8 ways Victoria’s Secret photoshops their models
Even though we all objectively realize that every image we see of a woman in print or online is probably photoshopped, it’s always kind of mind-blowing whenever somebody points out just how much work goes into retouching an image.
Recently, a retoucher who’s worked for Victoria’s Secret for years went rogue and outlined for Refinery 29 the different ways the brand photoshops their models.
As somebody’s who’s spent a good amount of time starving myself to try and look like a Victoria’s Secret model, this news is especially disheartening and makes me feel kind of stupid.
1. Punching up the color
Okay, so not EVERY photoshopping trick needs to take a hit at our self-esteem.
As any casual Instagram photographer knows, sometimes a shirt that looks really vivid in person looks like a piece of shit on a screen.
Part of what a retoucher does is to make sure the actual color of the product matches what the consumer sees in a photo.
“That is really what retouching is essentially about, and should be about,” the anonymous retoucher says, although obviously, it’s just a small part of the job.
2. Adding things to the background to make the picture look more interesting
Again, this one is relatively harmless.
We pointed out in this story about Sports Illustrated model Brooklyn Decker in which, for some reason, a house was photoshopped onto the background of her 2010 cover.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not just Sports Illustrated who does this. The retoucher confirmed VS does it, too.
3. Making all the models wear hair extensions
“The first thing they do is put in [hair] extensions,” says the anonymous retoucher who the article calls Sarah for some reason. “I don’t think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair.”
4. Stuffing chicken cutlets into their bras
“If you hold up the bathing suit in your own hand, it’s so heavy because they have all this shit sewed into it,” like “chicken cutlets” and other shaping pads, the retoucher said.
5. Adding push-up bras under bathing suits
“They put a push-up bra under the bathing suit. And we retouch the bra…a lot of [staffers] would complain because they even did it with strapless stuff. When you’re wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape, or form [can] you have cleavage. It’s physically impossible with the way gravity works.”
So VS has the models wear bras under their bathing suits, then photoshops the bras out so that the cleavage looks natural.
You mean there’s a logical explanation for why my boobs never look this good in a strapless bikini?
6. Breast retouching
After they take out the bra straps, they make all the breasts look rounder, higher, larger and perfectly symmetrical.
According to Sarah, “they all have [size A’s],” but you’d never guess that from looking at the photos, right?
7. Making stubble magically disappear
No, models don’t have some secret trick for appearing hairless IRL. It’s all done in post-production.
“They come to these photo shoots and, like, they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have, like, hairy armpits,” she said. “They all have stubbly pubes — all the normal stuff.”
8. Adding meat to their bones
“Models are thinner than you actually think they are, and we retouch them to look rounder,” which includes plumping up butts, hiding protruding hipbones, and making it look like you can’t see each and every bone in their ribcages.
If you’re asking yourself, if Victoria’s Secret has to do so much work to make these skinny girls look curvy, why not just hire curvier models?
Sadly, “they tried” and it didn’t work.
“One time, during a swim season, they had these two girls come in that had abs and thick thighs and butts. They were really toned and their skin was amazing. They were still obviously models. But they were a different look. But, they didn’t sell anything and so they stopped using those girls.”
So basically, this is all also the consumers’ fault.
As if spending a month of my life trying to actually look like these girls IRL didn’t make me feel bad enough.