Now Being Bikini-Body Ready Means Photoshopping Away Women’s Waists

Is Ann Taylor engaging in more body-shaming tactics, or is a seemingly hacked stomach an honest mistake?

(Photo: Ann Taylor LOFT)

May 22, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

After weeks of noshing at holiday parties and slurping of eggnog, New Year’s Day marks the official start of America’s diet season. That means it’s also time for endless media stories giving women tips on how to get that banging bikini body back. Well, it seems that Ann Taylor LOFT has stumbled on an instant way to whittle women’s waists to an acceptable two-piece size: Photoshop.

Except nowadays, it seems that bikini-ready waists come with a slice of skin and bone chopped off.

The above image of a model wearing a blue two-piece in the swimwear section of the LOFT website stirred the body-shaming pot after eagle-eyed consumers noticed that the top half of the model’s abdomen is significantly smaller than the bottom half. It looks like a photo editor may have hacked away at the already thin woman’s rib cage and stomach.

This isn’t the first time Ann Taylor’s been to the Photoshop-fail rodeo. It previously came under fire for elongating models’ bodies and altering thumbs and limbs. However, this time around the retailer claims it’s all just a matter of awkward angles.

“The photo in question was actually only minimally retouched to remove a tattoo,” the company said in a statement. But since the “photo could be perceived as significantly retouched, we have replaced the shot on our website.”

Demand from the public for images that aren’t slimmed and slicked into Barbie proportions is growing. Even women who are seeing themselves digitally altered are speaking out against the practice. In response to heavily Photoshopped pictures of her from a GQ magazine shoot, on Wednesday, Pretty Little Liars actor Troian Bellisario, who has been outspoken about the need for more realistic images of women’s bodies, Instagrammed pictures of what she really looked like on the day of the shoot. “As long as we acknowledge how it was achieved so we know it’s not real,” she said.

Ann Taylor may have been caught off guard by the backlash—why put the image on the LOFT website in the first place if the angles made the woman look a little less than human? The company said in the statement that it is “a brand that is about making women feel more confident and stylish.” If that’s really the case, perhaps next time it won’t use a photo that makes a woman look like she’s missing a good chunk of herself.