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Are fashion magazines now airbrushing models to make them look bigger?

Nadine Bells
Shine On
August 22, 2012

With all the controversy surrounding super-skinny Photoshopped models in ads and editorial spreads, some fashion magazines have responded to the public's request for curvier body types by airbrushing models to appear heavier.

"I have to airbrush clients to make them appear bigger and more womanly before I submit photographs," one leading talent manager tells FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "Skinny doesn't sell."

Perhaps it's the Kate Upton effect. The curvaceous model landed the coveted cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition over more waif-like models. And now those super-skinny girls need "reverse retouching" to match the appeal of Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian.

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This "reverse retouching" practice came under scrutiny in 2010 when the editor of England's Healthy magazine admitted that the cover girl looked "really thin and unwell" and needed retouching to make her look stronger and healthier. The art director for SELF magazine admitted to doing the same in an interview with the DailyMail.

In 2010, Robin Derrick, creative director of Vogue, confessed, "I spent the first ten years of my career making girls look thinner — and the last ten making them look larger."

Critics blasted the airbrushing, asking why magazines couldn't just hire healthier, curvier models in the first place.

"I'm sure actresses and models would love to start eating healthier and feel more energetic," says model-turned-filmmaker Nicole Clark.

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"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," weight-loss coach Jena la Flamme tells Fox News.

"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 claims that women have fuller figures in magazines because editors are leaving their natural figures alone. The stick-figure images were artificial, not the curvier ones.

While it's encouraging too see more realistic body types in the pages of fashion magazines, maybe it's time to just lay off the Photoshop altogether and let women be celebrated for their actual sizes.

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