Supermodel's Photoshop Horror

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Supermodel's Photoshop Horror

A former Sports Illustrated cover model is suing an Estee Lauder company for allegedly damaging her career with a fake promo using a Photoshopped picture of her. The suit is the latest wrinkle in the global phenomenon of photo retouching. From Demi Moore's missing hip on the cover of W Magazine to a slimmed-down Katie Couric, see some of the most egregious Photoshop disasters of the past decade. Plus: See how the retouchers did it.

The ad claims to "noticeably" reduce wrinkle length and depth, to "lift sagging contours" and revive youthful "bounce." It features a closeup of a woman's face, split down the middle. On the left, there are visible fine lines—the kind of image normally hidden from public view. At right is the newly-refreshed version of the model, flawless and toned, after four weeks of Origins’ special facial serum, Plantscription. The catch? The model featured never used the product, nor did she authorize use of the makeup-free photo. She's 35, and the ad is aimed at women who are 45 to 60. Both sides of her face, we can assume, have been digitally retouched.

Gallery: Photoshop Horrors

For anybody who knows anything about advertising, the fact that this ad is a farce should be no surprise. Nor should the use of photo retouching to create a digitally-altered before and after. But for a 30-something model once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, to be shown without makeup in an anti-aging ad aimed at women two decades older is nothing short of career suicide. The woman is now suing the company, which is owned by Estee Lauder, for $2 million—alleging that her career has been "irreparably" damaged by the fake promo.

Estee Lauder says it does not comment on pending lawsuits, and declined to answer a question about whether Photoshopping ads is a common practice. But for those who haven't been keeping up with the media swarm over photo retouching during the past few years, it's safe to say the practice has become ubiquitous. In France and the U.K., lawmakers have even gone as far as to propose mandatory health warnings on images that have been retouched, to protect women, as they put it, from "false" images of female beauty. Even in the depths of middle America, kids as young as 6 are having their school photos digitally doctored.

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