Sunday, 13 May 2012

Going off on a tangent: H&M do a h&mmy job of photoshopping

You may have noticed the H&M bikini adverts popping up on bus shelters around Sheffield,
(the worst offender, and the subject of this blog, available here, I recommend you look at the full screen version to get the full effect. I would have inserted the actual picture here but that would require me to download it to my computer first, and I don't think my graphics card is good enough.) and, presumably, the rest of the country. They’re easy to spot because you may have mistaken them for a heavily waxed David Dickinson, and they're accompanied by a realisation that we're already in a dystopian future. Airbrushed images are nothing new. We see them everywhere. But what’s exceptional about this series of ads is how hilariously bad they are.

For starters, it’s a really tacky, over the top photoshop job. The poor woman’s face is a different colour from the rest of her body. Maybe she left a facepack on in the tanning salon. The combination of her outrageously bronzed, almost varnished mahogany skin, and her wafer thin arms and neck give her the look of a cocktail sausage with a couple of extra sticks in. Her plastic-looking hair hangs limp and rigid as a nun’s wimple. She doesn’t have breasts. Instead, Patrick Stewart and Mohammed Al Fayed, wearing pink face masks like a tsars outbreak at gay pride, lurk round her chest. Not a single crease, wrinkle or fold is visible in her skin giving her the appearance of a waxwork made of Botox, and even her ribcage has been eerily removed. Maybe she’s in to auto-cunnilingus, or maybe they let George Lucas do the retouching. Her left hand fails to make an impact on her leg. Bizarrely, for a woman apparently seated in water, she shows no signs of being wet, neither on her swimwear or body. Her eerily white nose looks like one of Michael Jackson’s cast-offs. Even her belly button is reduced to a smooth dent, the unnatural white ring around it looking like she laid down on a frosted doughnut she didn't know what to do with. And she really shouldn’t have let someone slap her side with sun lotion on their hand.

I’m not against people looking nice, and obviously clothing shops aren’t going to hang their child-made rags on trolls, but is it really aspirational to look like you’ve been grown in a Petri dish? The Frankenstinian lovechild of Dale Winton, some silicone and a culture of E coli. It must be a depressing state of affairs for the model in question, if indeed there ever was such a person, or if they just took a photo of Andy Serkis in a blue onesie and built the picture around it. A model’s only job is to look nice, and if you fail in this so resoundingly that the photographer has to use state-of-the-art software to make you unrecognisable just so your visage is tolerable, it’s a pretty dismal state of affairs. And if this picture is an improvement on what she actually looks like, she must have looked fucking horrible in the first place. The only thing that poster is any good for is a public information warning about skin cancer. And they didn't even remember to remove the camel toe.

In a rare "I told you so" moment, I am pleased to announce that H&M have apologised for this advert as it's been criticized for promoting skin cancer. They said of the model: "she is Brazilian, which means that she has a darker skin tone than most Europeans", which still begs the question as to why they decided to artificially slide her down six spaces on the Dulux colour chart from "soft pine" to "leather Wotsit". They haven't apologised for promoting anorexia, but we can count our blessings.