Three things are certain in this world: death, taxes, and the photoshopping of print ads. Guidelines on just how far companies are allowed to go with their airbrushing are slowly setting in, but what can be said for publishing images with ACTUAL fake bodies in combination with real human heads? Discount fashion retailers H&M are taking some heat for using “virtual mannequin” bodies which match the skin tone of whatever model’s heads they stick on top. AdWeek‘s article criticizes this practice, stating that it sends a message that everyone’s bodies should be the same “unrealistic” proportions.
So, is this REALLY worse than using a regular mannequin?
Initial reactions – Yes, with a capital and boldface Y. Not only is this creating a completely fake and idealized version of the female form rather than photographic a real one, but its combining it with a real human head, making this an even more bizarre case of fake and downright creepy version of the perfect woman (half woman, half robot.. like something out of Metropolis)
After further consideration – We may be overreacting, but only slightly. Here’s why: I went on H&M’s website to see if these modelquins were still in effect, and they are. However, they are part of a virtual Dressing Room feature, where you can choose garments to mix and match into possible outfits from H&M. Its kind of like dressing a virtual paper doll – for anyone that’s ever worked in web programming, you can understand how it would be much easier to make this feature of the website come to life with one set template, aka body.
Therefore, despite the super skinny leggy Barbie-like simulations’ physique, I don’t think the whole fake body practice is any sort of serious ethical issue. However, I do feel as though perhaps it would be best if there were some sort of disclaimer stating that they were digitally built, so that viewers are not mislead into thinking that they are real.