There are some out there who think it should be and is obvious to female consumers that models are not what most people look like, that everyone knows their look is all due to a combination of rare genes and the magic of photoshop. Those people are wrong.
The marketing research company One Poll looked into female body confidence for the online clothing line New Look by surveying 2,000 women ages 18 to 65 in the UK. 15% of 18 to 24 year olds said they thought that models in magazines actually looked like their photos when walking around every day, which is to say nothing of the people who subconsciously think that and don't even realize it.
- a third of women polled said they were "unconfident to extremely unconfident about their body," and 24% said they felt that way when going out with their female friends.
- 33% said that "the body they aspire towards is not possible for them to achieve."
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Those who argue that men and women are educated and aware of the limitations of the images they're seeing are missing the bigger issue: there's a huge difference between knowing something intellectually and understanding it emotionally. And even if you can look at a photo of Kate Moss and realize that yes, at 40 years old she looks good but she isn't magic, the underlying issue is still that there's an implication that every person is supposed to look that particular type of good too. It's an impossible battle.
Earlier this year, when Jennifer Lawrence's Dior ads came out, she was presented with the photos purportedly for the first time and said, "Oh my god, I haven't seen this. That doesn't look like me at all. I love Photoshop more than anything in the world. Of course it's Photoshop, people don't look like that." We know people don't look like that. But sometimes, when those pretend people are on every bus billboard, healthy and bronzed and sporting a bikini in Saint-Tropez while you're standing there in a huge parka sniffling from a cold, it's hard to feel that knowledge.
Image via Stuart C. Wilson/Getty