NY Times Photoshops Fashion Model - Says Readers Understand It's Fantasy

NY Times Photoshops Fashion Model - Says Readers Understand It's Fantasy

The New York Times is being forced to examine their policy in regards to retouching on their images. Of course, they stand by the fact that manipulation of their news images "strictly forbidden.” But recently, they received backlash when the cover of their [style] magazine T had what many readers felt was a fashion model that looked 'shockingly thin' and 'underage.'

In response to the complaints, EIC Deborah Needleman issued a response:
Julia Nobis, the model, is a 20-year-old undergraduate studying medicine. We chose her because of her strong looks and the personality she is able to project. She is rather thin for my taste, as most models are, and I considered adding some fat to her with Photoshop, but decided that as it is her body, I’d let it be. Fashion photography involves a bit of fantasy, and often some edge, and while the bathing suits are strappy and have buckles, that is a far cry from bondage — either showing it or advocating it. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is racier and more explicit than these images."

She added:
"I am always aware and trying to not pick super-skinny models. In fact, in the pictures of her [we first saw] she was heavier, and then we shot after fashion month and she was super-skinny. But models are really skinny. I think part of it is the Times readership — it’s not necessarily a fashion audience. In real people’s eyes, models are really, really skinny."

Firstly, models are real people. Secondly, some "real" people are also thin, and we get just as offended when people call us "too skinny" as an overweight person would when being called "to fat." The 'too thin' complaint is tired. Fashion sells clothes. Clothes look better on thinner bodies. Also, saying the model looks "underage" is a pretty stupid observation which probably says more about the personal philosophies of the person making the complaint than the images themselves.

But, the interesting observation here is that the NY Times is a news organization, yet they hold their fashion magazine to a different set of rules. They considered adding fat to a model. And this can go both ways. You can add it or you can take it away, but the point remains the same. They have no problem altering the appearance of an individual to sell copies. Personally, I see this as pretty reasonable. To compete in a marketplace that sells 'fantasy,' you can't expect a fashion magazine from a major corporation to not retouch their images.

There is a much greater observation under the surface of all of this, though, and no one is really talking about it. If we are to decrease the amount of retouching in these sorts of images, what kinds of demands are put on the models? Many people already complain that they are already 'too skinny,' so what do they think will happen, realistically?

View this issue here and see for yourself.

What do you think?

ny tmag

[Via Fashionista]

Chris Knight's picture

Residing in New York City, Chris is an internationally published photographer whose work has appeared in Vogue, People, MSNBC, ABC, Ocean Drive, GQ and others. He is an instructor of Photography and Imaging at Pratt Institute and the New York Film Academy.

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I see nothing wrong with this ... What is wrong with people and fashion photography lately?

she looks very normal?

Typical stick thin clothes horse....nothing to see here.

I don't see anything wrong with this photograph.

This is so a non-issue. People are way too over sensitive.

Lol. It's okay for us to "celebrate" overweight peoples' bodies and say things like "love your curves!" But naturally slender models can be ruthlessly villified. Makes total sense. Morons.

People seem to have too much time to waste to complain about such a thing, I think that the photo is perfect and there's nothing to complain about over here!

and if she was underage, would it be a problem?

Funny, this model doesn't look at all too skinny. She just looks like a healthy lean, something that we really should aim for in our own fitness and health regimes. Fat people trying so hard to make the fat=okay equation work are wrong. Not because of appearances, but because of health. If sending the message that being too skinny is attributed to causing health problems such as anorexia, sending the message that being fat is okay is certainly not better, with all of the obesity related health issues.

Marketing will never change though. It's goal is to get you to think you will be something you aren't if you buy this product.

Haha this is the weakest thing I heard/saw in some time... she looks totally normal. Skinny, yes, but she`s 19 right. Girls in this age are usually either very skinny or still have what we in germany call their "baby-bacon". The Japse girl is much thinner, by the way. And where, pray, is there some bondage?

I think part of it has to do with expectations and geography. When I was in Amsterdam, for example, everyone looks like the young lady in the photo that's being critiqued, but it's because a great deal of the people in Amsterdam are very active and bike everywhere. As an observer, at first it makes you self-conscious and then you deviate between admiring those people for staying so fit and despising them because you are not as fit as they are. Yet, Amsterdammers are known for eating lots of donut-like pastries and drinking lots of beer for breakfast and other meals; they just work it off, organically, with their active lifestyles.

I'm glad you enjoyed Amsterdam. And it's true, over here in The Netherlands (Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands) the portions of food we consume are much smaller in general than say in the US. And fastfood is less of a way of life. But really, as someone who lived his whole life in Amsterdam, we do not drink lots of beer for breakfast. What's wrong with you? Breakfast in general here is bread/sandwiches and juice or milk. But we do have a lot of bikes. :-)