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Not Cool: Ralph Lauren encounters backlash for photoshopped pics of model October 22, 2009

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At the end of September 2009, popular blog site boingboing.net posted a photograph from a Ralph Lauren advertisement showing a ridiculously photoshopped model, Filippa Hamilton. Hamilton, who is normally very skinny, appeared so emaciated in the photograph that her waist was smaller than her head. Boingboing.net faced threats of major legal action by Ralph Lauren, but the clothing company eventually apologized for its artwork. Nevertheless, the image eventually rekindled a debate within the media about the ethics of photoshopping, with many interested in passing legislation to ban such practices. Whether or not such legislation is ever passed, it is clear that several watchdogs are now looking for other infractions to share with a news media that is finally reporting on these kinds of stories regularly.

For more on this story, see the following segment from The Rachel Maddow Show:

Discussion Questions:

1. What is the social harm of so many photographs in advertisements being severely photoshopped?

2.  Why do companies dealing with fashion, despite the prevailing negative opinions about emaciated models, continue associating their products with extremely skinny women?

3.  If public outrage concerning these incidents is becoming more widespread, how should these companies react?  Was Ralph Lauren’s apology effective in handling the crisis?

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