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H&M Receives Flak for Putting Real Model Heads on Fake Bodies

Posted on Dec 9, 2011 Plastic Surgery

It is a campaign women have been waging for years: the women used in advertising should have more realistic proportions to avoid creating unrealistic expectations, and driving the popularity of plastic surgery procedures like breast augmentation. Research has shown that women often experience decreased self-confidence and a poorer body image when they see models that are likely photoshopped to look unrealistically thin, with unrealistically large and perky breasts. Now, worldwide retail chain H&M seems to be taking the practice one step further. They use a completely fake computer-generated body to display clothes and then place real models’ heads on the computer-generated mannequins. Advertising watchdogs and feminist critics have taken aim at the company, for “creating unrealistic physical ideals.” H&M has defended itself, saying that “We do this to show off the clothes.” It says that the marketers take pictures of the clothes on mannequins, then create the human appearance artificially. A modeling agent speculates that the practice is done to speed up the process of getting products on the website. He says that H&M is known for its rapid turnover, and that by cutting modeling shoots out of the process, it can get the images up on its website much more quickly. In the past, feminist gossip site Jezebel has called out H&M for its unrealistic photoshopped images. The issue goes beyond body image, too, because there are real questions about what men & fashion & magazines are doing to women’s bodies. For example, Pakistani model Veena Malik has accused FHM India of digitally undressing her for their cover. This action has had real-world consequences for Malik, whose father has disowned her.  The digital undressing was part what she claims was a systematic attempt to take control of the images out of her hands. Although she was supposed to receive the images before publication, she claims she never received them. The magazine denies altering the image. If H&M simply wants to take pictures of its clothes on mannequins, that seems reasonable, but it should not try to make them look human. Such a move cannot help but create unrealistic body image expectations. And if it wants humans to model its swimwear, it should use real models. And FHM and other men’s magazines are already doing too much to damage women’s social standing, and should respect her right of refusal to be shown naked.