After we noticed Ann Taylor's art department got trigger-happy with the vector tool, the airbrush tool, the liquify tool, and probably 84 other tools in the Photoshop toolbox, we hardly expected any response. But today, the company is apologizing.
These are the tweets from the company account:
We'd recommend the frank approach whenever companies get caught using egregious Photoshop — it's superior to its most common competitors, the angry-threatening-letter approach, and the quietly-fire-the-model approach.
The real question is, though, what's going to happen now? None of the images we linked to on Ann Taylor's website — and there are many, many more pictures there that bear only an incidental relationship to the human form they were apparently at one point intended to represent — has yet been taken down. And will Ann Taylor change its approach when photographing and retouching next season's stuff? What about hiring some models in a range of sizes? There are great ones out there.
We live in a world where virtually every single picture we consume in women's magazines, on the websites of fashion brands, and in store advertisements has undergone extensive post-production work. (That's in addition to all the heavily retouched movie posters, book covers, and occasional news photos.) Anyone who's ever seen an Avedon collage knows this is hardly a new phenomenon — the Adobe airbrush tool is named for the actual air brushes that photographers once used for retouching. (Ditto the dodge and burn tools, which mimic darkroom techniques photographers from decades past relied on extensively for image correction.) But digital photography has vastly increased the scope for and ease of image manipulation. And occasionally, to use Ann Taylor's word, an "overzealous" effort will result in some embarrassment. Photoshop isn't in and of itself a problem — but using it to create and disseminate ridiculously unrealistic images of women kind of is. We'll take this statement as a pledge from Ann Taylor to do work differently in future.
Earlier: Ann Taylor's Photoshop Insanity