Ralph Lauren | Nordstrom Photoshop Waist Controversy

Thanks to Tavi’s tip at Jezebel, the world is buzzing over yet another Ralph Lauren photoshop disaster, this time involving Nordstrom’s polo shirt photos of Tao Okamoto. 

Nordstrom says “leave us out of the discussion”, offering up a before and after Photoshop photos of Tao Okamoto.  Beyond removing Tao’s breast nipple and a few wrinkles from the photo, Nordstrom says they didn’t slim the waist. Honestly, we don’t see that this is another Ralph Lauren Photoshop disaster.

Our thoughts:

1) Like Ralph Lauren’s model Ubah Hassan, Tao Okamoto is very thin. Her stats are listed as size 4, but this photo of her suggests that she’s thinner. If this body is a size 4 — fat by fashion industry standards — we’re out of words.

2) When we first saw Tao Okamoto’s photo, we thought she was a boy. For certain, the gamine look has a certain androgynous appeal to some people. Certain French women have worn the look well for decades, without causing controversy. 

3) We believe that Ralph Lauren, in particular, favors a particularly emaciated look in his models in 2010. Perhaps Ralph has joined First Lady Michelle Obama in wanting to slim down America. The facts aren’t good about America’s weight problem, and Ralph Lauren has always led the Ronald Reagan-inspired charge for a better, stronger America. 

4) Seeing this photo of Tao Okamoto, we believe Anne is correct when she writes that Ralph Lauren is trying to eliminate any ounce of visible sexuality and fertility from a constantly evolving, global beauty image of women. Ralph Lauren wants women to look as much like boys as possible, with a BMI to match. 

Anne wrote previously that American women must understand that the image of female beauty is evolving Eastward, into Asia and India. Global brands can’t make separate ads for each country.

Japanese women are starving themselves, to reach BMIs of 15-16 so that they are thin enough for Karl Lagerfeld and now Ralph Lauren, too.

We are convinced that short men designers in particular have this preference for very little women, and Japanese women are happy to comply. Japanese women are notoriously well behaved, living in a patriarchal culture that slaughters dolphins and keeps its women in line.

None of these facts are news, so let’s move beyond beyond waist size in the Photoshop debate.

Think bottom line revenue. From our perspective Ralph Lauren and Nordstrom are exercising their first-amendment rights to adopt any beauty standards that they wish for their customers. We aren’t obligated to embrace them as consumers.

As American women, it’s our decision to buy the polo shirts or not. We are big girls, not hamsters in the fashion industry cage, as Anne told Tinamarie, ModernMuse Examiner last month. It’s our decision whether or not to buy the Ralph Lauren brand’s vision of women. 

We’re deeply concerned about America’s obesity epidemic but equally concerned about women who look like Tao Okamoto, an aspirational beauty image of women that seems equally unhealthy. 

Bottom line, it’s each woman’s decision whether or not she supports a brand with her wallet.

This is about cash, ladies. If you don’t like the beauty imagery of the Ralph Lauren brand, don’t buy it. If you believe that Nordstrom should be more alert to using these photos to sell polo shirts to American women, don’t go in the store.

These choices are consumer choices, and they are ours to make. As a woman, support the brands you love and boycott the ones you don’t. It’s as simple as that. Let’s focus on getting healthy and stop worrying whether or not we fit the image these guys dish out for us.

Ralph Lauren’s Patriarchal Values

Clearly, the Ralph Lauren brand intends to support its own set of patriarchal brand values. A woman can’t be too rich or too thin in his brand book. It’s his Ayn Rand, Atlas-Shrugged American right to use whatever models he chooses.

When a woman is as emaciated as Tao, kicking butt probably isn’t in her skill set, which is exactly how the patriarchy wants the balance of power between the sexes. Do you really believe that a guy like Ralph Lauren wants to see the world’s women healthy, liberated and in charge of their bodies? It’s an unAmerican idea, one we’ve studied closeup and personal for the last 12 months.

Let’s just carry on with our lives and forget about Ralph Lauren as being irrelevant to the real issues that matter in our lives. Anne & Company