Dear Target, Your Airbrushing Is Out of Control (Again)

Overly airbrushed photos of models are nothing new, but retailer Target shocked the Internet recently by running a shot of an super slimmed-down model sporting a bikini on the teen section of its website.

The photo was first spotted on Monday by blogger Blogilates and quickly circulated online. On Tuesday, after the ad was mocked for being “disastrously wrong” and “freakish,” Target emailed Buzzfeed the following statement: “This was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize. We have removed the image from our website.” You can still view the photo but it's been cropped to reveal only the top, the only part of the bikini now being sold. 

Where to begin? At first, the ad for Xhilaration Junior’s Midkini 2-piece Swimsuit in Leopard Print looks normal enough. But upon closer inspection, there’s a big chunk missing from the model’s crotch area, resembling “thigh gap,” whereby a woman’s thighs are so thin, that they don’t touch when she stands. The model’s left leg was also slimmed to be dwarfed by her right one. There are also random pieces of flesh jutting from her armpit and left hip, and her left arm has been whittled so much that her hand appears floppy and oversized. 

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As Jezebel notes, another photo on Target’s website shows the same model wearing an Xhilaration Junior’s Midkini 2-piece swimsuit in bird print with another suspicious chunk removed from her thigh and backside.

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The model, identified by Internet commenters as R'el Dade is represented by the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas, Texas. A rep from the agency refused to comment when Yahoo Shine reached out to Dade. 

What’s most disturbing is that this is an image being marketed to teenagers.  And it seems particularly out of touch in a climate where fashion companies are starting to showcase real women instead of unreastic ideals. Free People are experimenting with using customer's photos in lieu of traditional models and American Eagle's Aerie Real lingerie line (for ages 15-25) only features unretouched photos of models to show "what girls their age really look like."

This isn't the first time Target has made a misstep. In May, the retailer called the color of a plus-size dress sold on its website, “Manatee gray” (the same shade was called “dark heather gray” in regular sections) and apologized to various outlets after public protest. And in January, it showcased a pregnant model wearing a plus-size dress (the company apologized again).

Please Target, if you must airbrush models for your teen line, go easy!

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