Photo slop: Photo shopping the already skinny sparks eclectic debate

03/20/14 by Krystin Olinski

Have you ever watched an enthralling, captivating ad for a fast food restaurant and wondered why the double cheeseburger or chicken sandwich you're staring at on television looks nothing like what you're getting in person?
Chances are, you have.
Do those French fries, milk shake or side dishes as part of that online photo ad look way more appealing than what you just were handed through the drive through window?

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Chances are, they are.
Welcome to the wonderful world of staging, advertising and photo shopping at its finest.
Food certainly is one thing, but what about when the pursuit of perfection within the marketing community turns its attention from sandwiches and salads to something a little more tangible and a lot more personal: body image.
More specifically, Target took more than just a little heat for how a recent ad appeared on the web site. Target took a little too much off the middle, more specifically widening the gap between a model's thighs so that her legs were especially thin. Did we also mention that even with the adjustments to her body that she was already thin to begin with?
Another picture of this same female, modeling a bathing suit, also shows her left arm being much thinner than the right one.
Aside from just how silly this ad looked to the general public, it also speaks well beyond what's actually printed.
The "thigh gap" has been christened as the end all, be all of determining just how skinny you are. The larger the gap between your upper thighs apparently is directly related to how thin you are. That's quite the alarming litmus test when it comes to body image and self esteem for younger women particularly.
Target apologized for the error and promptly removed the picture from its web site, but the retailer is hardly the only clothing company that is perpetuating an image that isn't realistic.
They just happened to publicly get caught.
You could argue that maybe this Target employee was just having bad day. Some conspiracy theorists believe that this employee wanted to make a statement that making thin models look even thinner is inherently wrong and decided to nip and tuck ridiculously to make a point.
While you may not totally agree with letting your emotions get the better of you and thus sacrificing your job and sabotaging your work, it's hard not to rally behind that sentiment if that's truly what happened with this Target employee.
Whether you're talking about a delectable piece of food or a male or female model flaunting a chiseled, athletic physique, the longing for impeccability fuels our culture, buying habits and how perceive what perfection should be.
Don't solely blame Target, other retailers or even restaurateurs for trying to make their products, food or models look enviable, enticing and appealing. They're just keeping up with the status quo when it comes to garnering sales with a totally straight face.
As long as, of course, that face is thin.

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