The other day, I wrote about the recent controversy over a horribly bad Photoshop job in a Ralph Lauren ad that made the model look impossibly skinny. Two websites reposted the image while dishing out harsh criticism over Ralph Lauren’s poor decision. This led to Ralph Lauren threatening to sue them for reprinting the image. But one site, Boing Boing, refused to be intimidated as they knew they had every right to repost the image in an article that criticizes it. And of course, this all only heightened the controversy and the outrage against Ralph Lauren, which led to an official company apology:
“For over 42 years we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”
How did they “address the problem?” They fired the model whose Photoshop image was the source of the controversy. The 23-year-old Filippa Hamilton who’d worked for the company for 8 years is in reality 5’10” and weighs 120 pounds with a body that bears no resemblance to the pencil-thin photoshopped image of her in the advertisement.
Though Hamilton has modeled for Ralph Lauren since she was 15, the company let her go “as a result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us.” But the story gets worse: Hamilton says she was let go because she’d become too fat to model for them. “They fired me because they said I was overweight and I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore,” she explained. “I was shocked to see that super skinny girl with my face…It’s very sad, I think, that Ralph Lauren could do something like that.”
Though a very reasonable 120 pounds, Hamilton claims dissatisfaction over her body led to her being fired six months ago. Thought that obviously didn’t stop Lauren from continuing to use her face attached to a body that is not her own:
However, the company continued to use her image, whittling down her arms, waist, thighs, and possibly several other body parts in the above ad. If they were so unhappy with how she looked, why not get another model for the campaign? Why use the photos and alter and distort them?
Today, Ralph Lauren himself is distancing himself from the ad, claiming, “The image in question was mistakenly released and used in a department store in Japan and was not the approved image which ran in the U.S.” So we’re confused. They say the photoshopping was an error, that Hamilton is “beautiful and healthy,” yet they allegedly fired her for her size? With all these apologies and statements it sounds like the brand still has yet to accept responsibility for their actions.
. . .
“I think they [Ralph Lauren] owe American women an apology, a big apology,” says Hamilton. “I’m very proud of what I look like, and I think a role model should look healthy.”