A former retoucher has confessed not only the tips and tricks of fashion shoots but just WHY models get so touched up.
Speaking with Refinery29, a nameless retoucher (who worked for many big named brands, not just Victoria's Secret) has dished all on what retouchers do and why. Here are the best bits:
1. Editing starts on set -
Hair Extensions: “The first thing they do is they put in [hair] extensions, I don’t think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair.”
Chicken Cutlets and Shaping Pads: “If you hold up the bathing suit in your own hand, it’s so heavy because they have all this sh*t sewed into it.”
Hidden Push-Up Bras: “They put a push-up bra under the bathing suit. And we retouch out the bra... a lot of [staffers] would complain because they even did it with strapless stuff.
When you're wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape, or form [can] you have cleavage. It’s physically impossible with the way gravity works.” Retouchers then edit out the straps and any signs of nipples.
2. The Photoshopping -
Colour Correction: Most of the time, model's hands, feet and armpits come up more blue or shadowy, so the retouchers correct it. Some models don't even shave because they know they will be photoshopped - "They come to these photo shoots and, like, they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have, like, hairy armpits. They all have stubbly pubes — all the normal stuff [non-models have].”
Every body type gets altered: Slimmer women get their breasts plumped up and curvier women get wrists and ankles taken in - "Anything to make [them] look delicate. They make the neck more narrow because that is a very female, delicate thing to have.”
Everyone has acne, cellulite and stretch marks: “You don’t get 6 feet tall during puberty without having stretch marks.”
3. Why is there so much alteration?
Surprise surprise, it's what sells: “The reason people retouch bodies is because they're just trying to sell you something... if someone saw a picture of stubbly pubes, they probably wouldn’t buy the thing. They'd be like, ‘This is like a really weird picture. Why would I buy this?’”
4. So what do people do if they want to stop it?
If you hear of brands that are stopping such extreme alterations, support them: "When you see things like that pop up, you should vote your money towards it, because then they see it as a money-making thing and they’ll continue to do it.
Then, hopefully, other companies will say, ‘Aerie is doing really well. Maybe we'll start doing that, too. Maybe people will want to buy more stuff from us.’"
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