PhotoThe Target corporation has had multiple problems lately, what with hackers wreaking all sorts of havoc, but its latest bit of bad publicity is entirely its own fault — no hacker malfeasance to blame, but actual Target employees (or subcontractors) doing their actual jobs.

This week, blogger Rebecca Rose from Jezebel discovered a photo on Target's website (which has since been taken down, although it's archived on Jezebel and countless other places across the Internet) showing a young girl modeling a two-piece swimsuit the company sells. Yet an unknown somebody in Target's graphics department used Photoshop to alter the appearance of the girl's body and swimsuit — specifically, changing the size and shape of her thighs and crotch, and slimming her waist and hips — so that the girl in the photo not only appears noticeably thinner than she actually is, she is thinner (and of different shapes and proportions) than is biologically possible.

She's also missing a triangle-shaped chunk of flesh from her hips, and it's safe to presume her image was altered in other ways which aren't as obvious because the Photoshopper at least remembered to stay within normal human biological guidelines.

As Rose said in Jezebel:

The worst, most horrible part of this (aside from the horrible Photoshopping skills of whatever poor graphic design intern got assigned to do this) is that this product is for their junior's line. This is what is being marketed and pushed on young girls—this absurd image of a crotch that absolutely does not and cannot happen naturally. This what young girls have to look at and try to reconcile with their own, normally shaped bodies.... I really don't know what the hell the purpose of this is, even from a purely superficial, swimsuit marketing standpoint. What was the issue with this model's original appearance that offended them so much that they thought this would be better?

Not unique

In all fairness to Target, it is in no way unique in its tendency to alter the appearance of the female body in ways that completely contradict the laws of biology, physics and common sense. “Photoshop Fail” in advertising is common enough to have entire blogs dedicated to it (and at least one magazine attempting to stamp it out).

Just last week, the Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood urged the Girl Scouts to end its Barbie-themed partnership with Mattel, partially due to the unseemliness of using the Scouts to advertise toys to children, but mainly because of the unrealistic (and arguably unhealthy) self-image Barbie can create in young girls advertising to a basically because Barbie offers: an actual human being with Barbie-sized proportions would be unable to survive. For example, the neck-to-head circumference ratio would leave a Barbie-sized neck too narrow to support a Barbie-sized head.

Nor could Barbie stand, let alone walk, given ther proportions: her calves and ankles are too thin to support her body weight, even if her too-small feet were actually capable of holding her balance.

Point is, if you are a woman or girl of any age, and you're unhappy with your appearance because “I don't look as good as that model in this ad I see here,” don't take it personally. Even the model in the ad doesn't look like the model in the ad, at least not without heavy Photoshopping, airbrushing, and outright CGI fantasy invention.

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