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Perfect, imperfect, right, wrong, beautiful, ugly — these labels have always gotten all of us. Body positivity made waves and was on an all-time high last year. Now, all the terms that described the body and imposed society ideals on us AND made us uncomfortable in our own skin, were redefined. The so-called imperfections like stretch marks and freckles on the body stopped being considered as blemishes, they are now being celebrated. Models and brands alike are saying NO to unrealistic edits and we are ricocheting to a new frontier where everyone looks like you and YOU are the star. As a global platform, ASOS had stopped air brushing their models regardless of any present stretch marks a while back. And there seems to be a recent addition to the list of such brands. But the question is, what extent do you think a brand would go to, to be relatable?
Missguided, a UK-based brand, has announced that they won’t be photoshopping stretch marks on their models anymore. This rare decision only brings the world back to the right definition of normal. But how authentic is their claim?
Twitter was partly divided on that and there’s a very good reason for it.
While some spoke in praise of it, some could spot that stretch marks were rather added to the model’s image. And the rumour was strengthened when Chloe Sheppard, a prolific photographer who has worked with the brand in past, accused them of altering their pictures to add stretch marks.
I suppose this is somewhat a response to *a certain company's* recent tasteless move editing stretch marks on a model, which was clearly a marketing tactic to make their brand seem "representative" and "not conforming to normal conventional beauty standards" but actually it's just bullshit. Stretch marks are something that aren't a fucking trend and can be pasted on and off, or enhanced so your brand looks revolutionary, they are something that make me, and most likely millions of people insecure and to me reinforce the idea of how unattractive I am to everybody else in society and that my body isn't normal and is something to be ashamed of. Fair enough if you want your brand to be authentic and inclusive, but instead of BLATANTLY photoshopping the pictures, use models that already have such stretch marks, I am sure there are plenty of them. It's quite honestly insulting and does the opposite of what they probably intended. It reiterates the idea that stretch marks/eating junk/thick thighs whatever are OK but only when applied to a skinny girl. I'm just bored of all these companies acting like they give a shit and want to represent everybody when they really don't. I would never have posted a picture of myself like this in a million years before but I have honestly given up/realised my body's only purpose it to get me from a to b and want to use it to send a message. PS. Sorry to my family who will no doubt be confused as to why I've uploaded this lol and also a thank you to Ashley Armitage and Sophie Mayanne - 2 photographers whose work has considerably changed the way I turn a camera onto myself. PPS this is the first roll of b&w I've developed myself in like 3 years
Sheppard posted a black and white image of herself next to the accusation (in the caption,) which has gained about 3,890 likes.
When asked why she was so sure about the image being altered, the photographer told The Debrief: “My friend showed me a video of the same model doing a swimwear video for them and you can actually see that she does have stretch marks on her bum, so they haven't photoshopped them in as I'd originally thought. However, the images definitely have been digitally altered, because if you go to their original Instagram post and zoom in on where the stretch marks are, you can see little bumps and white shadowing from where something has been done to that area on photoshop. The stretch marks are also completely different patterns in the 2 photos which made me think they were doctored on.”
Fake or real, both ways, in the times, when a celeb like American singer Kelly Rowland is proudly flaunting her stretch marks, more encouragement towards such issues are needed to raise awareness but genuine ones are preferred.
Addressing women’s body or skin as ‘not good enough’ in advertisements and campaigns is something fashion and beauty industry has been repeatedly accused of. But a brand’s decision to throw photoshopping out of their post-production process is a step in the right direction. But it is surprising that, marks which were considered so hideous that they were taken off from the picture using the magic of technology, thinking they would hinder the sale of products, is now being used as a strategy to stand out.
Whether caused by a teenage growth spurt, weight gain, weight loss or a baby bump, almost all of us will at some point see them on our bodies, it is ridiculous to think of them as a defect.
Stretch marks have been a part of my skin since I was 14 and they do not make me feel uncomfortable until pointed out as a flaw. They are dear to me, much like my skin.
Imagine, if every advertising platform in the world vowed to encourage #NoPhotoshopForMyBody, we won’t have a Barbie defining ‘perfect’ skin or body type for us anymore.