Advertising Inaccuracies

Okay, so I almost hate to say something about this after my amazing Ann Taylor Loft spy/employee friend Shelley snagged some trouser jeans for me for seven bucks last night ( I know! I'm still reeling at the deal), but I can't keep my trap shut about a recent debacle Ann Taylor is having.

I saw this news story late last night that spurred some thoughts in my brain about body image and advertising on yahoo and then I visited the initial blog where it was exposed (

Ann Taylor has quite the PR crisis of her hands, as this is not the first time the company has been called out
for retouching images in their ads.  This crisis is all the more delicate and tricky, as an apology and promise to do better has also been previously issued...and clearly not heeded

Okay so let's get down to the nitty gritty here.  Which of these images do you prefer?

Not that I ever will be or ever want to be in this realm of skinny, but I have to go with the image on the left.  The product is accurately represented by the tops gentle creasing naturally against the "curves" of the model, while on the right she has been vectored, liquified and generally over-doctored in Photoshop to have her unnaturally thin figure.  Her waist might be a grand total of ten inches, if she was a real life person.  And the top isn't even shaped like it seems in the left photo.

So first off, can you guys tell me who the hell looks like this doctored image in your waking life?  I literally maybe know one or two people and it's because they are extremely tall and thin naturally.  You can tell the damn difference between natural skinniness and an image that makes you want to tackle a graphic designer.  Do these companies think the general public is completely inept? Perhaps they are right... but not this girl.

I have to wonder how the marketing team at AT has been misled to think this product representation is the best channel to selling clothing.  According to a March 2009 LA Times article, the average American woman weighs 162.9 pounds and wears a size 14.  And with the way America eats, you know that size and poundage has only increased over time.  So why then, are size 14 women, the supposed average size American woman, treated as freaks in these retailers' ads and windows?  Houston, we have a problem.

This "high fashion" concept of boniness/European chic/starving model/sallow sourness bullshit has been bleeding into the marketing teams of American designers who make career and casual wear for audiences of slightly below average to above average income American women, like you or me.  I don't know about you, but some things in high fashion makes me want to barf or just laugh my ass off.  No one in small town USA can pull off some of the shit you see during fashion week.  So why do we get marketed to like we can?

If you wore this to a cocktail party, would your friends giggle and possibly talk about you behind your back?
That's all I felt like saying really.  As a former student of public relations, I don't understand the strategic choices in aligning products with unattainable lifestyles of the market.  Let's just remember as unattainable skinniness continues to be shoved down our throats, that most of us look more like this... (Thanks Dove).


  1. girlfiend, I hear ya. While the over-doctored models are pretty much exclusive to the Ann Taylor division and not LOFT, there are still skinny ass models and manequins all over the store that I have to look at. Everything looks great on a size 2 (which, btw is the standard size of our manequins... the "big" manequin is a 4) and its frustrating to women when they see something cute that doesn't translate well onto a more average sized body. I will say, LOFT has taken some pretty neat steps to be more responsive to the average woman. They've received a lot of attention for responding on facebook to women's requests for clothes to be modeled on "real women." Check out this link about it:

  2. I've heard about a lot of places doing this lately too. Did you hear about the controversy where American Idol aired a Victoria Secret's commercial, but then pulled out last minute at airing a Lane Bryant lingerie commercial?? It's all just disgusting when it comes down to it. Makes it harder to feel confident & good about yourself. This is why people have such a skewed image about what bodies should look like and then it just hurts. Regardless of my weight, I would have a slightly bigger body just because that's my body type. And I should be penalized for this--the body I was born with?? It really just makes me sick to my stomach sometimes.