Debenhams Reveals What Goes Into Image Retouching of a Swimsuit Model

Debenhams Swimsuit campaign showing photos of a model before and after retouching

Photos: Debenhams

Similar to what Britney did in her Candie’s ads exposing her unretouched image alongside the touched up version, Debenhams, a UK department store selling swimwear, has chosen to show an unedited photograph of a model next to the retouched photograph with a sign written “We’ve not messed with natural beauty, this image is unairbrushed. What do you think?”

Debenhams retouching notes on a swimsuit model showing what goes into a "perfect" photo

Photos: Debenhams

Debenham creative director Mark Woods through this campaign shows us what goes on in the editing process, in the creation of a perfect beauty as we see on every cover photos and advertisements. From the image above, about 11 touch ups have been clearly indicated, ranging from skimming of the legs, waist, arms and shoulders to smoothing of the face.

Notes on the retouched photograph:

  • skintones made warmer
  • face smoothed, blemish removed on lip, skin under eyes smoothed
  • outline of hair smoothed
  • underarm cleaned up
  • hair removed
  • shoulder skimmed
  • shadow on cleavage enhanched
  • arm skimmed
  • removed fold of skin
  • waist skimmed
  • leg skimmed (both sides)

Through this campaign, the company hopes to raise awareness of the negative impact that a digitally enhanced beauty can do to both men and women. Besides creating an unrealistic perception of female beauty, it also diminishes the self-esteem of women who obsessively make comparisons of themselves to models and celebrities, most of whose images have undergone the same processes in the editing room.

Will we see more natural beauty in future ad campaigns? Will more retailers follow suit in being more honest about digital manipulation?

Being humans, we are naturally attracted to objects of beauty, be they people or things and ad campaigns for years has been using images good-looking women and men to sell products and capture people’s attention. Until our perception of what constitutes perfect beauty — unusually smooth skin, no loose skin or fat in sight, very tiny waists, large breasts, etc — change, digital enhancements will still have an important role to play in the advertising industry.

Britney Spears Unretouched Photos from Candies Shoot

Today’s topic is American pop singer Britney Spears, most famous in the late 90s and early 2000s with hits such as Baby One More Time and Oops!… I Did It Again. Her last studio album was Circus, released in 2008.

You may have seen these — Britney’s unretouched images from her Candies for Kohl photo shoot — circulating on the internet recently. London’s Daily Mail reported that the singer wasn’t afraid to show the before-and-after Candie’s pics because she “is proud of her body — imperfections and all.”‘

Britney Spears in a pink cutout swimsuit, unretouched photos from the Candies campaign

In the pink cotton candy themed shoot, Brit’s wearing nothing but a cutout bathing suit and open toe slip on heels. Her pre-airbrushed photos shows a more muscular, fuller woman with some marks around her legs, a heavier bottom and some cellulite on the skin under her thighs. Her face seems relatively untouched in comparison.

These images are from the Mail online and comes with the notes: “smaller waist”, “slimmer thighs”, “bruises removed”, “tattoo removed”, “smaller bottom” and “cellulite removed”.

Britney Spears in a pink cutout swimsuit showing her buttocks to the camera, unretouched photos from the Candies campaign

Here’s a cutout we created by removing the background of the above two images. We lay the retouched cropped out photo on top of the unPhotoshopped one by aligning her eyes. The blue silhouette shows the pre-Photoshopped outline of her real body.

Before/After outline of Britney Spear from Candies photoshoot

Apart from the noted changes, the photo editor has also made her feet narrower. Notice that Britney’s left feet is wider in the unedited picture. The muscle definition in her legs has also been smoothed away along with the bruises, probably to achieve a more softer, feminine looking legs.

Muscular Britney Spears is retouched to appear slimmer through the use of photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop

Just by looking at the second released picture, of her with her back facing you, we can’t quite put our finger how they managed to make her legs look so much longer and slimmer while her height seems shorter (see the top of her outstretched hand and head). The answer is clear when we compare the proportionately scaled images side by side — Apart from editing her calves and thighs by reducing the appearance of muscles and slimming them down horizontally, her legs were also stretched longer.

Britney Spears legs were edited using a photo retouching software (such as Adobe Photoshop) so that they appear slimmer and longer