I’m too old to read fashion magazines, or even often women’s magazines for that matter, but when you’re stuck in a doctor’s office, they’re fun to look through and see what horrors will trickle down the pike into stores when you try to clothes shop. (Currently, it’s been amusing to watch the 1980’s be regurgitated, to my daughter’s dismay.) When I did so this time, however, I was struck by a perfume ad that featured a picture of French actress Audrey Tautou standing, arms lifted, in what might have been a train car, wearing an evening gown, from the side. Now, Tautou is a small, waifish woman, a lot like Audrey Hepburn, with very skinny legs, but this picture had clearly been altered (or Tautou is seriously ill). From the top part of the torso up to the head and arms, it looked like Tautou, but below that, it looked like a strange, stick-like alien who had put on a dress and attempted to disguise itself as a human being but hadn’t quite managed it. 12-year-old girls don’t have a waist like Tautou was given, and her butt had been reproportioned out of sync with the pose they’d put her in.
Alterations to actresses and models in these shots is nothing new, nor the attempt to make models look as young and pedophilic as possible, including using baby models. But it’s gotten so bad and has been accompanied by so much anorexia in the real world models (and problems for teens,) that there’s a PSA guerilla campaign that hired an ad firm to essentially harass the fashion magazines over their distortions of body size with various stunts. It’s gotten so bad that they don’t even bother to do it well anymore, like when they cut off Emma Watson’s leg in a recent coat ad. It’s gotten so bad that they make Audrey Tautou, who is supposed to be selling romance and Old World European charm so that you want that sophisticated perfume, into a scary stick-alien, and they think that’s attractive to either gender. Which starts to make you wonder what sort of mental state the photo editors or those who order them around have ended up in. When the models in pictures look like concentration camp victims or mutated freaks, it might be startling art — and startling art can sell by attention getting — but it doesn’t seem to match the actual campaigns they are trying to do to get men and women interested in buying perfume, clothing or jewelry. You kind of wonder if the photographers are trying to pull a giant prank on the fashion industry. Or if the fashion industry is trying to pull a giant prank on the populace by seeing just how much weirdness we’ll tolerate. (Next up — lizard scales!)
In any case, the Tautou ad did not make me want to buy the expensive perfume and made me feel sorry for the actress. And muse that SF really is taking over all the culture.