Oh Kate Upton, what have you done?
While magazines have airbrushed pounds off models and celebs for years, to the consternation of many, the latest trend in the editorial and advertising world is digitally altering subjects to appear larger and curvier.
“I have to airbrush clients’ to make them appear bigger and more womanly before I submit photographs,” one leading talent manager told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Skinny doesn’t sell.”
Pick up the latest edition of Vogue featuring Lady Gaga on the cover and notice how tall and curvaceous she appears with a cinched waist and prominent bust and hips, a noticeable difference from the behind-the-scenes photo shoot video which appears on the fashion magazine’s website.
The mag did not respond to a request for comment.
Yes bountiful busts and backsides are back, even if they don't come naturally.
“The bootylicious-ness of the Beyonce, the J-Lo, and the Kim Kardashian effect is contagious, and Hollywood runs things more than models nowadays. It is definitely not about make-me-look skinny, it is make me look sexy and curvy. And we’re also seeing a trend in cleavage,” explained top celebrity stylist, Phillip Bloch. “(Airbrushing) is happening in several other parts of the body too. They want toned arms, and fuller faces.”
Leading model manager and publicist Nadja Atwal is very familiar with the growing practice of body plumping prior to print
“These poor girls (models) have been forced to lose the very curves that the general public wants in order to find a woman attractive," she said. "So when you do a sexier shoot with a skinnier girl, you have got to basically add volume via retouching where there is no volume in reality.”
Called “reverse retouching,” this practice first came under scrutiny in 2010 when Jane Druker, the editor of Healthy magazine in England, admitted that the cover girl arrived at the shoot looking “really thin and unwell.” But rather than being sent home and another model hired, the publication instead chose to retouch the model to look larger, in keeping with the publication’s dedication to “healthy” faces and figures.
The art director for health and fitness-orientated magazine SELF also confessed that models are retouched to look bigger and healthier, essentially faking fitness. In addition, former Cosmopolitan editor Leah Hardy admitted that during her reign at the magazine, bulk was added to models during post-production, and even the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, revealed that she often has had to ask photographers to specifically make models not look so skinny.
And magazines aren’t the only offenders. Movie marketers do it too. Itty bitty actress Keira Knightley dared speak out in disgust over the posters for her film “King Arthur” after it was obvious that her bust has been digitally enhanced in a pretty “big” way.
“Publications will do whatever they think will make something sell. If curvier models are in, models will be airbrushed to appear curvy,” noted body image expert Sarah Maria. “The fashion and entertainment industry is interested in what sells, plain and simple.”
However, is adding weight with the click of a button, as opposed to subtracting it, really a step in the right direction in terms of promoting healthy body image?
According to Jena la Flamme, founder of Pleasurable Weight Loss and a staunch champion of healthy body image, this form of digital dishonesty is just as detrimental as selectively slimming.
“The practice of airbrushing models, whether to make them look bigger and bustier or smaller and thinner, reflects poorly on the fashion industry. These techniques are all about creating an illusion and distorting reality,” she explained. “It sets a bad example for women watching these celebrities because now they are vulnerable to comparing themselves to highly manipulated photo art, not a real photo of a real person. Though the photos aren’t real, they have a real and tangible negative effect on women who, bombarded by these images, are led to feel they aren’t meeting up to the standards of beauty.”
One fashion industry insider said the airbrushing controversy was being overblown, and that women in magazines have fuller figures because photo editors are leaving their computer tools alone. “(Magazines) generally are not airbrushing as much. That is their natural figure,” the source said.
So real or digitized, skinny is out, and curvy is in.
“It is helpful they are airbrushing images to look healthier, but why not just use healthier women and save yourself the hassle? Society is ready for change,” said former model turned filmmaker Nicole Clark. “I’m sure actresses and models would love to start eating healthier and feel more energetic.”
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.