In this day and age, we are all pretty well aware that the images around us are being retouched and refined. You may even do sneaky Facetune on your selfies before you upload them. One brand whose name has become synonymous with photoshop is Victoria’s Secret, and their ex photo editor has spilled on all the tricks of the trade.
Refinery 29 spoke to the ex- employee, who chose to remain anonymous but was referred to as “Sarah”, and she dropped some huge truth bombs on the nature of the retouching that took place within the company.
Sarah left her full time position with the brand because she started to see how destructive retouching can be, and it was no longer something she could stomach. “I know what I’m doing is wrong and that’s a huge part of why I’m not doing it full time any more,” she said.
But according to Sarah, the “body fixing” starts long before an image gets sent to the retoucher. “If you hold up the bathing suit in your own hand, it’s so heavy because they have all this s**t sewed into it,” she said, “they put a push-up bra under the bathing suit, and we retouch out the bra.”
If you’ve ever wondered how Victoria’s Secret angels appear to have gravity defying cleavage, even when wearing a strapless, this is the reason why. “A lot of staffers would complain because they even put push up bras underneath strapless stuff. When you’re wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape, or form can you have cleavage,” Sarah said, “it’s physically impossible with the way gravity works.”
Next comes the retouching. According to Sarah, the models you see in Victoria’s Secret campaigns are actually a lot skinnier than you may think. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of her work included adding a little extra meat on their bones.
“Models are thinner than you actually think they are and we retouch them to look rounder,” she says “they all have size A’s”. She goes on to say that this is because ribcages and skeletal limbs often attract criticism of the image, which Victoria’s Secret would always like to avoid.
According to Sarah, we aren’t the only ones who forget to shave. “They come to these photo shoots and they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have, like, hairy armpits. They all have stubbly pubes –all the normal stuff.”
Considering VS has come under fire for promoting unhealthy bodies in it’s campaigns, why wouldn’t they just use bigger models? “Because they don’t sell,” Sarah said, “they tried different models and different body types all the time.”
“One time, during a swim season, they had these two girls come in that had abs and thick thigh and busts. They were really toned and their skin was amazing. But, they didn’t sell anything and so they stopped using those girls.”
Sarah says that these practices will only start to change when brands sales suffer because of it; “As a society, we’re the ones who choose this.” So vote with your dollar next time, and purchase from campaigns that feature unretouched bodies.