Model Meaghan Kausman Slams Swimwear Brand Who Photoshopped Her Body

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The fashion, beauty, and advertising industries sell fantasies to unsuspecting customers, and the majority of their images and messages are sold on the basis of a lie. What you see is NOT what you get. Excessive photoshop, airbrushing and digital enhancement of models bodies has sadly become a standard, but consumers are starting to take a stand against this practice in droves.

There is even a proposed bill here in the United States that seeks to regulate and monitor the use of these techniques, called the ‘Truth in Advertising Bill’ spearheaded by Seth Matlin from the Brave Girls Want coalition, and sponsored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Lois Capps (D-California).

But it is going to take more than just legislation for the industry to have a collective turning point. It takes everyday people speaking up and changing their small part of the world wherever possible. A girl who is certainly doing just that, is Australian fashion student and model Meaghan Kausman. She recently shot some beautiful underwater swim wear photos for brand Fella Swim with photographer Pip Summerville.

After the shots were sent to the swimwear label, Meaghan was saddened and shocked to see that they had altered her body quite a bit before posting them publicly online. She decided to post the before and after shots to her own personal account to call into question how ridiculous it was that they needed to photoshop her body.

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She wasn’t worried about pissing anyone off (the brand especially) as Meaghan felt it was far more important to send a powerful message to all the young girls who have no idea that a model on the page of a magazine doesn’t even look like how she is portrayed, in real life.

“I recently did a photoshoot wearing Fella Swim, with an extremely passionate and talented underwater photographer, Pip [Summerville]. Her photos are magical; they capture women in water and celebrate their beauty,” she wrote on the image above which was posted to her Instagram account @meagsk.

“They had drastically altered my body, thinning out my stomach and thighs in an attempt to box me in to the cultural idea of beauty. My body is a size 8, not a size 4. That’s my body! I refuse to stand by and allow ANY company or person to perpetuate the belief that ‘thinner is better.’ All women are beautiful, and we come in different shapes and sizes! This industry is crazy!!!! It is NOT OKAY to alter a woman’s body to make it look thinner. EVER!”

It got the attention of Fella Swim who took the photo down from their Instagram account, and offered somewhat of a bland apology, before basically saying that photoshop is part of the industry and it ain’t gonna change. With brainwashed attitudes it certainly won’t! Wouldn’t it be a neat idea if more and more brands decided to give a collective middle finger to the industry by boycotting image-enhancement, and in turn be responsible for a major trend? What a thought…

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Here is there apology:

“Meaghan is actually incredibly beautiful and we love the original image by @seagypsea_photography. We meant no disrespect for photoshopping the image and apologize that it has offended some people here. Unfortunately like most magazines, media and images you see on here, the girls have been retouched to look, taller, thinner and different to what they really (sic), and yes, all to see a product. Apologies to @meagsk you have made a point of us and we will remove the image. If we knew this would upset you, we would of never posted it.”

The fact that they are willingly going along with the idea that models need to look different is truly sad. Photographer Pip Summerville, who told the Australian ‘Today’ show she uses photoshop only for minor adjustments like color enhancement, not body image altering, was also shocked at the images posted by Fella Swim.

“It’s creating a false persona and it’s a completely unrealistic (body) image. Yes, they are a small brand, but if these guys are doing it to this level at such a small scale, I’d hate to think what the big brands are doing. For me as a professional in this industry it is really alarming.”

Meaghan’s dad is Dr. Rick Kausman who is a body image activist and a board member for The Butterfly Foundation, the biggest organization in Australia supporting those who struggle with eating disorders. So she has grown up with a more mature outlook on what a healthy body image is.

Dr. Kausman, who is famous in Australia for pioneering a “non-diet” and “person-centered approach to well being and health weight management” also told the ‘Today’ show this incident clearly demonstrates we have a long way to go.

“The key message that we’ve just got to keep at is to remind people that we’re more than just our bodies, that there’s so much more to us as people… and even though in our culture it’s hard to remember that when there’s so many messages about what is the supposedly ‘right body’. Bodies are all different and we need to do the best we can, individually and (as) a culture, to get to the point where we’re acknowledging that and even to celebrate … (that) we’re all different,” he said.

In an interview with Cosmo magazine Australia, Meaghan explained she wasn’t compensated for the shoot as it was a creative collaboration, which made the altering of her images even more offensive since Fella Swim were not given permission to do so. Before posting the image online she sent the company an email explaining her concerns, and she also discussed with her dad whether taking this issue public was a good idea as it could potentially affect future modeling opportunities.

“I was worried that other companies would be put off working with me, but then I talked about it with my dad and realised that the people who wouldn’t want to book me are the kind of people I wouldn’t want to work with anyway,” she explains.

“Because of who my dad is and the way I’ve been brought up, I’ve never felt any pressure to look a certain way. And if people can take one thing away from all of this it should be to love who you are, which I know can be hard, but it’s so important for people to feel comfortable in themselves and not to strive for something that doesn’t exist.”

Amen Meaghan! Thank you for stepping out boldly despite what others may think of you. The message you are sending is far more important than being compensated for work which is inauthentic and just perpetuates unrealistic ideals. Thank you for being a young woman willing to change the minds of your peers and community by questioning what is supposedly “normal”.

Take a look at photographer Pip Summerville, Megahan Kausman and her dad speaking about the whole incident on the ‘Today’ show:


 

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