Stop the´Shop Part II: Virtual Bodies

Continuing with my Stop the´Shop posts, I wanted to look at the latest conflict to debut in this ongoing issue with Photoshopped images. Now, instead of changing the real life model with Photoshop why not just make the model completely computer-generated? Well, one clothing manufacturer decided to do just that.

H&M, a Swedish, clothing manufacturer, created a new line of models straight from the computer. While the models’ faces are real faces, their bodies are completely computer generated. From viewing the two photos ,the bodies are identical even in the angle and protrusion of the hip bone. This is just another problem that adds to the body image disaster.

Little girls and little boys are constantly told through advertisings that they are not good enough according to “society’s” standards. This particular H&M image and its inherent message is furthering that feeling of inadequacy. Proponents of this marketing tool may say that this allows girls/boys to realize that these aren’t the models real bodies, but in order for that to work the photo would require a label stating that the shown bodies are computer generated. But how often are manufacturers going to label their advertisings as containing fake images thus leading to a degeneration of consumer trust? Unless regulation is enacted, my bet is that no manufacturer will admit its advertisings are fake

When I first looked at these two models, I did not look at them critically until I took another look and saw a familiar face. One of the faces belongs to a former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Fo. Fo is now the new headliner in H&M’s sportswear while her head is completing a fake body. I watched ANTM and saw Fo in swimsuits for a shoot and if I didn’t read the following article I never would have known that the body on display wasn’t actually hers.

I even asked my boyfriend if he saw any problems with the images and he only saw some light airbrushing and he remarked “They are really thin.” Usually, he beats me at spotting the fake images, but even he couldn’t tell that the models’ bodies were virtually created and not natural. While technology brings many great benefits and helps our society overcome many challenges and issues but it also creates a multitude of its own.

Photoshop allows artists to express themselves in a new medium. Computers and computer-generated images give us tool to create such wonders as fully CGI movies like Wall-E and Toy Story each movie with an important moral message. So, why does this technology have to be used for advertisings and manufacturers which only seek to promote the never ending struggle and business of body image?

By creating bodies and giving them worth as the quintessential image of beauty, we are setting ourselves and our future to high standards that no human being (no HEALTHY human being) can ever hope to attain. Only a computer and a pair of hands can create such an image but no one will know the masterminds behind these bodies. Average readers and consumers of H&M clothing will automatically assume the bodies are real and attainable (through crash dieting, eating disorders and obsessive exercise). However, could this technology take away jobs from the stick-thin models that girls all over the world seek to emulate? Could this computer-generated phenomenon actually put an end to the modeling industry in favor of computer models? I don’t think so.

Models will still be in high demand until the technology and software has created a human face that does not fall into the uncanny valley. The uncanny valley is basically the idea that there is a point where computer-generated images that are realistic and seem almost lifelike can actually turn consumers away from the image. The Polar Express movie with Tom Hanks failed miserably due to the uncanny valley. Moviegoers were “creeped” out by the realistic CGI and thus the movie failed to attract a huge audience (for more about the uncanny valley and the Polar Express: ).

I feel the same can be said of this ad. There is still a semblance of humanity in these images due to the fact that the model’s face is still in the image and thus this is not a completely computer-generated image which allows the advertisers and manufacturers to avoid the uncanny valley. Models will still have work in the industry as well as influence over how we view ourselves and our self worth until technology is able to create human faces and we as consumers are comfortable with computer-generated beings.

But, should the technology get to that point or for that matter should we as consumers accept these images?

Simply… No.

What needs to happen, as I stated in my earlier post, is that these types of technologies should not be used in a manner which detracts from an already low society self-esteem and we as consumers should not be buying into these messages and paying advertisers/manufacturers to make us feel bad. Yes, obesity is a huge problem in the United States and things need to be done to fight that epidemic, but eating disorders are also on the rise according to Dr. Jonathan Rader of And, like obesity, these disorders often lead to life altering and life ending consequences in the pursuit for perfection.

Should this technology be used to create more computer-generated bodies and soon enough even faces or should this be stopped? Have you or someone you loved fought to maintain a positive body image or are fighting an eating disorder or overcoming one? Share your story and thoughts below!

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