Real Female Models – are you in??

Spurred by the news that H&M use computer generated models local photographer Ian Hamilton ( decided to take some action. Local business women Joanne Dewberry, Heather Martyn and teen coach Lara Williams are lending a hand with 12 female models aged between 0-50 years all varying sizes and shapes. The idea is to photographer and promote real women models which are sorely lacking in the fashion industry.

Ian Hamilton, from Ferndown, shares he’s opinion “As a photographer it’s my job to make sure that my clients, whoever they are, look good in the photographs. Sometimes a client will ask me to “Photoshop” the images to make them look younger and these days it’s not just older clients asking for this – girls in their 20’s want to have perfect skin in their photographs and look as gorgeous as possible …. there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, but should we be altering and manipulating images to represent something that doesn’t actually exist?

Enhancing images has been around for years and in the time of film it was limited to soft-focus filters and a bit of work in the darkroom, but the commercial editing of images in Photoshop goes way beyond that, to the extent that bodyshapes are altered, necks elongated and even skin tones lightened. As I read somewhere once, “Photoshop raises the bar of beauty to levels of impossible perfection”.

There’s so much pressure on youngsters nowadays to look good, and manipulated images of celebrities and models in magazines only increases that pressure. Alesha Dixon did a programme for the BBC3 a couple of years ago where she looked at the effect that this pressure was having on children even as young as 10, and campaigned to have more realistic images in the media. But the truth is that we live in a world where women are judged by their appearance.

When clothes designers use slender, even size zero models for their catwalks are they really showing clothes in the way that the majority of women can wear them, or are they selling a dream? Now, H&M have admitted using computer-generated bodies – isn’t it time for more reality in the world of advertising, or is that a wish too far?

The media bombard girls with influential images on a daily basis through magazines, TV programmes, music videos and advertising campaigns. These images are damaging confidence and self esteem as they make girls feel inadequate. Girls are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves, desperately trying to achieve the perfect body image” Teen coach Lara Williams, from Broadstone, has first hand knowledge and experience of how this effects our teenage population.

Joanne Dewberry, from Three Legged Cross,said “I had my 3rd child in May and therefore don’t really conform to the stereotypical models body but actually look like the majority of the population having just had a child! It’s unrealistic for new mums to be subjected to these images especially in times of low self esteem and low moods which is all to common when a baby arrives. We see lots of pregnant models but none just after, when they have wobbly bits!”

My daughter is fast approaching her teenage years and I am very keen to ensure she embraces her body shape so I jumped at the chance to be involved not only as its a great cause but also to provide my daughter with the opportunity to meet strong, inspirational and real women who are happy in their own skin. Not these images that in some way make woman feel they are lacking.” said Heather Martyn, from Southbourne.

The shoot took place on Tuesday 20th December 2011, at the The Orchid Rooms Beauty Salon next door to The Norfolk Royale Hotel, Bournemouth. 

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  1. Kizzy
    January 5, 2012 / 9:50 am

    Fab post. Love the photo’s and I think it is disgusting brands using computer generated models. What example does that set.

  2. Liz Beavan
    January 5, 2012 / 10:50 am

    Lots of fantastic photos there and I agree in essence with what you’re talking about. The media and advertising take image manipulation to an extreme which is where the problems with realistic body image come into force.

    With Photo Fairy Designs I often get customers sending photos to me asking me to airbrush them or improve them slightly. It may be removing a blemish they had at the time the photo was taken, removing shadows under the eyes that were increased due to poor lighting, or removing the odd bulge that can be seen due to the position they are standing in. Personally I don’t have an issue with editing on this level, ultimately you are simply improving what is a poor photograph. Not everyone has the benefit of being able to receive such superb photographs as the ones Ian Hamilton takes.

    I think as with any kind of technology Photoshop is open to abuse and some people will use it to create body images that are simply unachievable. I’m not sure how or if this can be stopped or what guidelines would need to be put in place so that magazines etc are unable to use such highly edited photographs. It is also important to remember that the image manipulation doesn’t just occur digitally, some photographers use backgrounds, lighting, make-up, and pin clothing to ensure their clients get the best photograph possible. Some may argue that this in itself is creating an unrealistic image as if you were to take the same client and photograph them in a normal situation you wouldn’t get such dramatic results.

    We must also consider what other unrealistic images we have in society, the well known doll Barbie for example, that most parents don’t think twice about allowing their daughters to play with, in reality wouldn’t be able to stand up with the tiny waist and huge bust that she has. I’m not sure there are many, if any, Barbie style dolls on the market that fit the average image description of a 14-16 size woman that we have in the UK.

    It is a very interesting debate and one which I have thought about many times (and even blogged about!). Ultimately the body images are created because, as Ian says, that is what society believes is beautiful. So perhaps it is about much more than putting restrictions on what editing is allowed to take place. Maybe it is about educating people about what a beautiful body really looks like and through that perhaps eventually the images in the magazines will become more realistic.

  3. Elaine
    January 5, 2012 / 11:41 am

    Lovely photos… mind you I am a fan of the photographer at the school disco’s photoshopping of the stain out of my son’s shirt and his massive bruise on his forehead from the Christmas present photo!

  4. January 5, 2012 / 12:42 pm

    I certainly don’t have a perfect body and, after 4 children, I have pretty much gone to pot. Tummy muscles wasted and put on weight as soon as I see food now. Only thing I do like about myself are my boobs which have got bigger since I had kids, though maybe that is the weight gain …..

    Good on you for doing this, it’s about time real women were recognised

  5. January 5, 2012 / 4:23 pm

    Thought this might provoke some comments Joanne! 🙂