Interview Proves Victoria's Secret Photoshops More Than You Think

July 21st 2016

Almie Rose

Most savvy consumers are probably aware that Victoria's Secret Photoshops its models.

However, an anonymous professional retoucher, who went by "Sarah" in a recent interview with Refinery 29, spoke about some surprising techniques she was asked to use. Perhaps the most shocking revelation is that many models aren't Photoshopped to be skinnier, but to be more curvy.

"Models are thinner than you actually think they are, and we retouch them to look rounder. We have to curve them out."

It seems baffling, right? If clothing brands are Photoshopping models to appear curvier, why don't they just hire models with natural curves?

The answer is discouraging.

"One time, during a swim season, they had these two girls come in that had abs and thick thighs and busts. They were really toned and their skin was amazing. They were still obviously models. But they were a different look. But, they didn’t sell anything and so they stopped using those girls."

In short, curvy women don't sell for Victoria's Secret.

But that's not the case for every brand.

As Sarah points out in the interview, consumers vote on this issue with their wallet. 

For example, customers reacted with enthusiasm when American Eagle vowed to ban the use of Photoshop for its ads. Two years after the Photoshop ban, American Eagle's Aerie line saw a 20 percent sales bump in 2015.


A photo posted by aerie (@aerie) on


A photo posted by aerie (@aerie) on

"Why retouch beauty? The real you is sexy," Aerie's Instagram page declares. It's clear that many customers agree. In the above photo, which depicts stretch marks on a model, one Instagram user commented:

Aerie Instagram

"I know what I'm doing is wrong and that’s a huge part of why I'm not doing it full time anymore," Sarah confessed of her profession. But she brings an important message:

"As a society, we're the ones who choose this."

Which means we can choose something else.

Read the article in full on Refinery 29.

Related: What Men Look Like When They're Photoshopped the Way Women Are