airbrushinghidden propagandaimage manipulation

Victoria’s Secret: Serial Photoshop Offender

By March 25, 2011 13 Comments

THE ILLUSIONISTS is a feature-length documentary about the marketing of unattainable beauty around the world. To find out more about the film, click here.

Last week, I read a post on one of my favorite blogs – Photoshop Disasters – about the weird anatomy of a Victoria’ Secret model: she seemed the obvious victim of a botched Photoshop alteration.

Intrigued, I visited the Victoria’s Secret website, looking for other examples of Photoshop blunders. I found dozens of examples.

In most cases, models’ bodies were retouched to make them look even thinner. I was blown away by this: I mean, Victoria’s Secret is already using in its campaigns some of the most beautiful women in the world.

Their strategy seems to go as follows:

1) Pick only women who adhere to the One and Only Official Beauty Standard: young, beautiful, extremely thin BUT large breasted

2) Manipulate their photos in order to make their beauty even more impossible to achieve, with bodies that do not really exist in nature

Here are some examples of their offenses (body symmetry = optional):

In this photo, the model’s body doesn’t appear to be symmetrical. On the left hand side, it’s hard to distinguish where her arm ends and her hip begins. Also, the shadow on her inner left thigh is strange. It’s as if it has been cut and made thinner.

The same model as before. Surprise surprise! Her breasts are much larger than in the photo before. Photoshop magic? Also, there is something weird happening on her left side: it’s as if it has been slimmed down via digital retouching. Her hip seems to be thinner than on the opposite side of her body.

Her left arm (on the right side of the photo) is going on and on… where is her hand?!? It’s as if the two arms were different lengths.

What happened to the model’s hand?

Poor Candice Swanepoel is the victim of yet another botched Photoshop job – what’s going on with her arm? Ewww!

Yet another model with a strangely asymmetrical body: her right inner thigh appears to have been digitally slimmed down.

Oops! The digital artist made the left arm disappear.


One arm is a lot larger than the other… go figure!

The verdict: the Photoshop retoucher working for Victoria’s Secret may need to see an optometrist.

On the serious side, these blatant digital manipulations constitute a serious problem.

In her book Bodies, psychotherapist Susie Orbach wrote:

A good 2,000 to 5,000 times a week, we receive images of bodies enhanced by digital manipulation. These images convey an idea of a body which does not exist in the real world. […] Now we routinely judge our appearance through a hyper-critical lens, objectifying our faults.

Do you have other examples of flagrant Photoshop blunders? How do they make you feel?

THE ILLUSIONISTS is a feature-length documentary about the marketing of unattainable beauty ideals around the world.

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  • chocolateluvr

    WELL DUH candices boobs look bigger in the second picture. in the first she’s wearing a   bandeau top with minimal padding and in the next one, she’s wearing the miraculous push-up bikini top. 

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  • Guest

    Whoever made this page is an idiot. Photoshop didn’t have anything to do with any of these “blunders.” It was the POSES the models were using. Duh.

  • Rachello

    The first two with the breasts getting larger, one of them was wearing a top piece to make them look larger, that’s what the intent of the piece of clothing was.

  • Guest

    Whoever wrote this is a complete FOOL!!! They clearly know nothing about how different clothing makes a body look different and how different poses changes the appearance of the figure and it’s proportions!

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  • Alexandra

    I agree. Whoever wrote this has never posed in front of a mirror and seen how their body changes depending on how you put it. I think it’s damn obvious if you’re watching a leg from the front and another from the side that the sizes are not going to be equal. Leg size isn’t a 4×4 if you know what I mean, it’s a 4×6 or however you put it, but it’s never the same. Your side view is never the same as your front one.
    On to the next topic: whoever wrote this is not an expert on the boob deparment. What you wear changes how you look. You’ve just noticed that about the boob issue yet you’re so worried about trying to make VS look bad that you pick on every little thing when by what you noticed, shows that the product on display actually works.
    I could go on but I’ll choose not to. I’ve wasted time enough reading this ridiculous article plus writing this note.

  • Bobbi

    Try these poses in front of a mirror. They all make your body look just like the picture (plus a few pounds of course). If anything the asymmetrical legs and arms tell me of the LACK of photoshop used here. No employee in a huge company like VS would leave a missing arm and still have a job.

  • Lillia

    Don’t be so sure. Following their continuously overt overuse of Photoshop slimming techniques, Target recently posted THIS into their online store.

    Note the chunks missing from her left breast and crotch, the hyper-slimmed arm, and the bizarre notches of flesh jutting out from her armpit and left hip.

    The image has since been replaced with a better version, but this kind of thing is far more common than most people think. And I should know; I make a living editing photos and creating digital art for marketing campaigns.

    Victoria’s Secret isn’t the mammoth offender they’ve been portrayed as here, but rest assured they DO edit every single photo that they use, and small amounts of slimming, perfecting, and reshaping DO occur.

    Good thing for the angels that they’re all already so lovely and fit! The most common Vic’s Secret edits are actually simple changes to the exposure, contrast, and color saturation. 🙂