It's no news that photo editing, which was originally for correcting the quality of a photo, is now used for adjusting basically everything there is to adjust on the human body. Time and time again, magazines and advertisements are called out for botched Photoshop jobs, but it's not just those accused of over-the-top Photoshopping who are using editing tools. Even things you've never noticed before have possibly (most likely) been Photoshopped.
Refinery29 spoke to someone who makes a living out of retouching photos for brands, most notably Victoria's Secret, about what really goes into making the finished product. Here are six secrets from the anonymous woman, who now sets boundaries with clients on what she will Photoshop because she says, "I know what I'm doing is wrong."
1. Before they even start taking pictures, the swimsuits are stuffed with pads and inserts.
The Photoshopper says, "If you hold up the bathing suit in your own hand, it's so heavy because they have all this shit sewed into it."
2. Models wear bras under swimsuit tops to get better cleavage during the photo shoots.
"We retouch out the bra...a lot of [staffers] would complain because they even did it with strapless stuff." Everyone knows strapless stuff is the literal worst, so that explains how the models' boobs float like magic in those bandeaus.
3. Brands then remove nipples and retouch boobs like crazy.
The article says the Photoshopper "was often asked to make breasts rounder, higher, perfectly symmetrical, and of course, larger," because all the models have A-cup breasts.
4. They also edit out natural body hair and stubble.
The woman says most of the models wouldn't even bother shaving probably because they knew it'd get taken care of later. "They come to these photo shoots and, like, 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 [non-models have]." This explains how the models get such a "close shave."
5. Surprisingly enough, they don't make the models skinnier in Photoshop.
They make them curvier. And they soften bony parts. So why don't they just hire curvier models? The Photoshopper says brands have tried that before and customers didn't respond well. Moral of the story is to support brands that feature the kinds of models you'd like to see more of, which you should be doing anyway.
6. They also switch bodies.
The woman says it's common for brands to request for a model's arms to be switched with someone else's, though most of the time this is done to fix a weird pose rather than untoned arms or something. I know I should feel horrible now knowing all of this, but I actually feel better. Turns out nothing and no one is real, and striving to look like Victoria's Secret models is a waste of everyone's time—because not even they look like that.