You might have seen today that ASOS made a bit of a blunder with their product photos, the one above in particular, though this has now apparently been removed from the site. We wanted to add a little bit of our own commentary to this issue since ASOS is a site we both use and would recommend to others too, and to be honest, we’re a little bit shocked that this has happened.
First, the issue isn’t that they’ve photoshopped only one breast of the model and not the other, it’s the fact that they’re photoshopping at all. We all know that the stereotypical model is be tall, relatively skinny, and more than likely smaller chested. There is no problem with this whatsoever – yes, the slimmer body type (and Caucasian, but that’s a story for another day) is entirely over represented in retail, fashion and modelling industry in the Western world, but it is still a body type and one that people shouldn’t be finding fault with, least of all one of the top fashion retailers in the country (/world?!).
There are numerous counts of photoshopping incidents that can be found around the internet, most of them seem to be the work of professionals on women to make them look smaller – shaving an inch or two off the waist here, a gap in between the thighs (ahem, Target), lengthening the legs and smoothing out lines. Whether or not these women “need” to have this done is not taken into the equation. It’s been said time and time again, but it can be said again, and once more for luck: every body is real and no body “needs” to be photoshopped.
The norm everywhere nowadays is to see women who have been airbrushed and photoshopped to so-called perfection – having a slim yet proportional figure is what we should all aspire to, according to the media, whether it’s attainable or not for us. And for most people it isn’t attainable – I’m never going to be the “proportional size” because of my breast size which is larger than it “should be” for my body, even it does adhere to one standard that the media sets, my waist is shorter than the average, and my hips are larger. But this post (hopefully!) isn’t going to be a big rant about how the media wants us to be size-wise in our weight; with this being a lingerie blog, we want to draw attention towards the fact that they feel the need to enhance the model’s breasts which seem to us to be pretty awesome as they are.
There’s always been, and probably will still be for a while yet, a bone of contention between the smaller and larger busted worlds, for both women and men. I frequent the Reddit board r/bigboobproblems as well as r/smallboobproblems and I see women complain daily about the issues they’re having living with either small or big boobs – these start at: “All my tops gape because they’re too big on my breasts” and “Nothing will fit over these giant things attached to my chest”. Harmless problems to talk about, they’re trying to find an answer to their issue or at least an understanding person to vent with. But I’ve also occasionally seen the darker side of these boards, starting with the offhand comments about the size, but becoming more sinister when the comparisons start: “I’m glad my boobs are small so that they won’t sag” or “I wish I was flat chested so men wouldn’t pay so much attention to me.” Sometimes you’ll hear these offhand comments from men too, poking fun at a woman for looking like a “little boy” or throwing around what they think are compliments by saying: “More than a handful is a waste.”
Yes, okay, these might not seem all that sinister outright, but imagine you’re feeling very down about your size or shape, and come across a comment like that. It’s really going to hurt. You may not even realise that there is this so-called “problem” with your breasts – many people don’t spend the time of day worrying about how their boobs look, both to themselves or to other people; they’re just there, they have a function (which incidentally is often forgotten, being the sexualised objects that they are now – and further to that comment, there is still nothing wrong with you wanting to sexualise them on yourself if you choose to) and that’s it, and that’s fine. Until suddenly you hear that they’re not good enough for somebody, and that’s when it becomes a problem.
And in reality, that’s what ASOS are doing, yet on a bigger scale: the model has a relatively small chest – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, she feels comfortable enough with it to have a modelling career where it is put on show to the world everyday, but ASOS feels that chest isn’t good enough to sell its products as it is. The chest that should be selling its products is rounded, with definition, fills up the cup to “just the right amount”. And indeed, there are chests like that out there that we should be catering for, but we should also be catering for those with very little breast tissue, those with big boobs, those that are pendulous, those that are conical – I can’t go on and list every shape and size, and of course, we can’t expect ASOS to show its bikinis on every single shape out there. And even putting together that list is difficult because there are so many negative words out there used to describe people’s chests which have have now taken on offensive and derogatory undertones because of the way they’re used in modern media such as “flat chested”, “saggy” and even now to a certain extent “curvy”.
But having photoshop work done on a woman’s shape only serves to tell the public that her natural shape is “wrong”, and that’s not okay. No shape is wrong; no size is wrong. We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if we have an uncommon size or a shape that doesn’t look “quite right” in the perceptions of those that think it matters.
So, while it is quite funny to see these photoshop-gone-wrong pictures, it’s really just adding to a bigger picture that really has got a sinister undertone – a picture in which what we see dictates what is “right” and “wrong” about our bodies. How are we ever supposed feel good about our bodies if even the models’ bodies are supposedly not good enough? The “perfect body” has gone beyond attainable and into the realms of fantasy with an airbrush. You can read it time and time again, that every body is real, and there’s nothing wrong with your body as it is, but the media and retailers make it harder and harder to believe as they continue to push the boundaries of the “perfect body” and we continue to struggle against it.