This blog started as a weight loss journal, really, so tackling the topic of body image and the media isn’t too far off topic (although it might fairly be considered to be too massive of an undertaking). Enter Filippa Hamilton, recently fired Ralph Lauren model, and the photoshopped image of her that has been spreading virally all over the internet, leading to lawsuits against innocent bloggers and a massive public relations disaster for Ralph Lauren. At first I just followed this story and gaped, in shock, at the sickeningly unrealistic image it featured. Take a look at this:

lauren340_01.jpgI’m not even sure where to begin with this. Her body is so unbelievably distorted that she looks like a Bratz doll:

WildWestgrp5.jpgNote the similarities: unnaturally long and skinny limbs, distorted
torso,
and a “lollipop head” – likely because it hasn’t been photoshopped,
where the body has been stretched like a gumby doll.

What I want to know is, when did we start letting toy manufacturers dictate the standards of female beauty? My GAWD, I can’t believe I used to complain about Barbie dolls and their impact on female body image way back in the 80s. This babe looks positively normal by comparison:

Barbie.jpgSo anyway. Fashion dolls provide us with an unrealistic ideal of feminine beauty and body image. That’s not news. Girls have been subjected to unrealistic beauty myths for generations (the first Barbie doll was released in 1959, after all). But at least when we were growing up, the impossible ideal was relegated to dolls, which most of us understood (at least intellectually) to be part of the world of fantasy. Models were skinny, yes, but they were real. Fashion photography in the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s may have been airbrushed, but that was just to smooth out the wrinkles and take away the blemishes. Look at this ideal of female beauty from my childhood:

Lynda-Carter---Wonder-Woman-Photograph-C10101726.jpg

Yes, Lynda Carter was thin. But she wasn’t unrealistically thin. Interestingly, she’s in basically the same pose as Filippa Hamilton in the Ralph Lauren ad that has created all this internet furore. Let’s put them side-by-side and have a little comparison, shall we?

comparebodies.jpg

Frightening, isn’t it? Apparently there has been another Ralph Lauren stick insect sighting (this one in Sydney, Australia). Although to be fair this one may be a hoax.

But this is what technology can do. It’s truly a double-edged sword. Look at this video, for instance:

I have to admit, when I first watched this video, my thought was, “how can I get that in real life?”

And how sad is that, really?

  • trish_rodrigues

    Mega scared here – I have an active 10 year old girl who is just fine body shape wise. She plays hockey, basketball, volleyball and soccer – she is by no means overweight but because she does not fit the ideal that is being put out there .. she is insecure about her looks. She wants to be perfect. I have her reading a book “To Die For” about a young girl who overdiets and I re-enforce the fact that she is beautiful and not to have unrealistic ideals as to what she should look like. Like many moms out there know though I am not her only influence and I can only hope that keeping the lines of communication open in regards to her body image as well as her life that I can keep her on the right track.

  • Kath

    Anne, unfortunately I don’t think RL would have sued the bloggers who originally posted the image if they were just trying to start conversation. Nope: this one’s sick but true.

  • Naomi Jesson

    It’s so disturbing how much we know but are still totally sucked into it. I so worry just about my language and what will it be like in the future for my daughter. I was stick thin but still got tormented about lack of boobs and how thin I was, even though I was naturally that way. It hard to keep it all in check.

  • http://www.MississaugaKids.com Mississauga Kids

    I wonder… do you think maybe they used this image to start a conversation.
    One can only hope I suppose.

  • Jen

    Wow. The Ralph Lauren thing is absolutely frightening! What is going on with this world?? Wonder Woman was so thin but it was really her.
    I am ashamed of myself after watching the video though. Because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t help thinking, “she looks really good now”. Ugh. I’ve got some work to do before I can help my daughter get perspective!
    Great post, Kath!

  • Ali

    it’s so scary…the model/photoshop world. I am so scared for my two daughters who see these images and think that this is NORMAL and ideal.

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