Another day, another New Zealand’s Next Top Model drama. This time around, it’s over a couple of shoddy nip/tuck photoshop jobs dished out to Amelia and Lara – two contestants who judges and guest photographers have repeatedly labelled ‘bigger girls’. In the photos, disjointed lines around the models’ upper thigh areas clearly show where the reshaping took place. According to the Herald on Sunday, which broke the story, “The new individual photos were taken by photographer Russ Flatt after haircut makeovers, which aired on TV3 on Friday night, but he did not digitally enhance the pictures. Top Model producer Anna Lynch said there had been no intention to deceive anyone about the girls’ actual proportions, which were clearly visible on TV screens.” If that is the case, why hasn’t TV3 released the untouched photographs to back up their statement?
Like I said in the HOS article, photoshopping models is standard practice in the fashion industry. The whole point of models is to sell an aspirational, generally unattainable ideal of health, beauty and perfection. However, very few people actually are the ideal of health and beauty without a little enhancement. So photoshopping is common practice. If photoshop is used to remove blemishes, fine lines and perhaps the odd wobbly bit (ie. to smooth out the body), then I don’t personally have a problem with it – but I can understand why people would. But when it is used to cut whole sizes off a model then the company responsible is providing women with unhealthy examples of what they should be looking up to. It should always be done subtly and never be used as a plastic surgery scalpal.
The problem here is that whoever photoshopped the images did so in the most shonky way imaginable. It’s almost laughable – without even zooming into the photographs on the TV3 website anybody with half-good eyesight can see that the lines don’t connect. According to Media Design School course leader Joanne Lush, “It looks like they have purposefully tried to slim them down… With both pictures it is quite obvious they have done work on their legs. The calf muscle on [Amelia’s] back leg looks a little thin in comparison to the front leg, especially seeing as this is the leg holding her weight. If you zoom in [on Lara’s legs] you can see that the pixilation is different above and below the join area. It looks like they might have actually lengthened her legs a little.”
In TV3’s defense, I must point out that the girls haven’t been photoshopped to the point of emaciation, nor do they appear to be promoting unhealthy weight standards. In my eyes this is more an example of bad photoshopping than excessive photoshopping. But in the interests of public relations, TV3 should release the original images and make a statement to the girls of New Zealand, covering their mishaps thus far – 16 year old nudity and photoshopping-gone-wrong. And they should seriously think twice about who they hire to retouch their photographs. According to the show’s producer, “What we’ve tried to do is make the photos look as good as they can.” I’m going to come right out and state the obvious – perhaps they should have tried a little harder.