Shame on you, H&M.

Via Hannah Siegle
on Dec 6, 2011
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The Digital Body.

It has happened. The apocalypse. A retailer has finally owned up to using computer generated bodies in their advertising and online website.

Yesterday, H&M came out saying that they use a digitally-created body in their ads because they have created:

“a body that can display clothes made for humans better than humans can”.

Come again? Last time I checked clothes were supposed to be worn on humans? Why would we want to look at a picture of clothing on a flesh colored robot? I suspected a rat when I wrote a post a couple months ago about the H&M ads, specifically referring to one on TV where I thought the model looked like a robot. Turns out I was right!  It allows for a sigh of relief that such a large retailer is speaking-up, but I still wish that these ads came with disclaimers. Otherwise we still run the risk of too many people thinking that what they see is real.

Photoshopping has been in the news a lot more lately. There is an increasing call for retailers, photographers and magazines to be honest about how much work goes into their work behind the scenes. I would love to someday see a major magazine where no airbrushing or body alternations were used.  Hello Shape, Glamour, Vogue?

This discussion runs into a discussion last week about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and my point-of -view that the company was promoting an unrealistic ideal that is harmful to the self-esteem of many women out there. This post generated some discussion about what the fashion industry is responsible for in what they depict to society. I wasn’t condemning the bodies of these models, as they may be naturally that skinny, but rather the promotion of this as the norm. Whether they signed up for it or not the responsible thing for Victoria’s Secret and other companies is to deal with this reality and move away from promoting clothing moving down a runway or in print ads. Of course many of them shirk this responsibly, something that in my mind is unethical and a violation of the yama, Satya, or truthfulness.

This is the reality of the world we live in. Everything is connected and it is irresponsible to live in a false and isolated microcosm. The fashion industry, celebrities, and the media are looked up to and are used as a guide for many on how to live life, a guide that is being used more and more and we further disconnect ourselves from our own realities and instead rely on what is external. For many years I fell into this trap and everyday I still hear it all around me.  The discussions I hear among the children that I tutor break my heart at times; the belief that a 120-pound woman is too heavy or the idea that fat is actually a bad word.

What can be done to help this epidemic? What responsibility do you believe the industry has to us?

Some food for thought….

Photo Credits:,,,



About Hannah Siegle

Hannah Siegle began to do yoga four years ago initially for the physical practice, however she quickly discovered that the yoga began to do her in ways she never anticipated. The mind, body and spiritual connection that yoga cultivates has helped Hannah through the ups and downs of life, both large and small. She regularly blogs at Balancing on Two Feet on topics such as yoga, mindfulness, eating disorder recovery and all those things people don't like to talk about. She was trained at the RYT 200 through Laurel Hodory and is currently working towards becoming a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She teaches yoga throughout Central Ohio with GoYoga ,yogaServe, and also works as an Assistant Editor for the elephant journal!


25 Responses to “Shame on you, H&M.”

  1. Lindsey B. says:

    Wow. Digitally created bodies. That's low. Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

  2. Tingl;es says:

    What is wrong with giving people something to strive for? one shouldn't blame the companies for trying to sell more of their products by showing a model in which clothes fit optimally, that's the entire purpose in running a business, to sell your product. People themselves are the ones who make themselves depressed by demanding they look exactly as the models, the problem is with the people.

  3. Valerie Carruthers says:

    Once upon a time the Duchess of Windsor uttered the immortal statement that one can "never be too thin or too rich" for which society is still paying the price generations later. Will we have to Occupy Seventh Avenue before the fashion industry wakes up?

    Interestingly it was the great fashion designer Coco Chanel who said, "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud."

  4. Jowita says:

    The model in H&M tv commercial is not a robot 😉 Her name is Malgosia Bela and she's a Polish model and actress (;
    But I agree that the body image in media is completely disconnected from ANY reality.

  5. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Hi Tingl;es. Do you think these companies influence how people perceive themselves? If so, do you feel they should have any responsibility for the problems that people have and develop?

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thank you, Hannah for sharing this! In my opinion, we ultimately are responsible for ourselves, but society pushes to take that responsibility away on many levels. It also blatantly proves that it does have a strong influence on how we perceive ourselves and the tools we develop for doing so.

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  7. Perfect quotes Valerie. As always great insight!!

  8. I didn't mean that she was a robot, but I do think she was altered quite a bit to get that robotic apperance. A precursor to what is now the reality.

  9. pootiechang says:

    For those academic (i.e. nerdy-types),

    This here is an example of hyperrealism.

  10. Janet says:

    Yes, for shame!

  11. krishnabrodhi says:

    Ummmmmm…. how is this in anyway new. Those big plastic people in front of stores aren't real… soooooooooooo

  12. Margaret Bartley says:

    Complaining about people being influenced in a wrong way by fashion magazines is like complaining that drug dealers should issue full disclosure with their glassine envelopes.

    The fashion industry is totally mind-control vapidness. How can you then complain that, once having ensnared these weak-willed fools, the fashion industry then is irresponsible in how it uses them?

    Anyone who lets the crap sold in the supermarket decide what their role in life should be deserves what they get, INHO.

    Which is not to say you can't go on spending your time complaining, nor me spending my time venting.

  13. jay says:


    Find your own center. Outlawing "skinny fashion stuff" or "happy drug stuff," doesn't get to the root of the problem. It just makes the craving greater and the item more expensive.

  14. catnipkiss says:

    Not only are these images dangerous to women, but they also shape men's ideals of what women should look like. How is a man with wrinkles and, perhaps acne-scarred skin perceived (think of Ray Liotta)? They are alowed to be "flawed" and sexy. Would a woman get away with wrinkles and scars on her face? NO way. Not sexy. The same goes for body types – women are supposed to be very skinny with big boobs. Most women cannot accomplish that naturally (big boobs on a skinny frame are usually plastic). Like the daughter of the commenter above, I grew up thinking that I could look like "that", and when I didn't, I was devastated. I loved the Dove campaign that showed women of all sizes, and I hope to see more of this! – Alexa M.

  15. Ember says:

    Great article. I quoted you for my final exam paper in my Women's and Ethnics studies class. I knew I wanted to write on body image and the unrealistic expectations already set for little girls due to the media, but this really sealed the deal for me. I also made an art project of the silhouette of a small girl and pictures from various advertisements and magazines covering her from head to toe. The pictures were of enhanced, skinny white women, which is the expectation for beauty across the globe now. Thank you for writing this.

  16. Ember says:

    Good observation Alexa! I know of many published psychological studies that show the detrimental effects that pornography has on men's expectations of women.

  17. Dace says:

    I believe everyone should take a total responsibility about how one feels. True self esteem cannot be harmed by any ads. The problem is that a rare woman and a rare man takes time and courage to learn that none out there can hurt your self perception. Liberate yourself from any ideals or illusions what is normal in "society" and you will be beautiful because true beauty comes from within. and because I believe I am beautiful, I am.

    The industry today are just reflecting who the most people truly are- afraid, false, full of illusions, arrogant, selfish and above all- lost about what really matters in life. When each one of us will improve spiritually and as a person for the community, the industry will have no chance but to change. There are no enemies out there…

  18. […] couple of weeks ago H&M publicly owned up to Photoshopping models heads onto a digitally created body because they […]

  19. […] I have to wonder…how is this better? We’re always crying “oh poor us, society has this unrealistic standard that we just can’t meet!” Then, we turn around and do it to each other all over […]

  20. Sky Abbelar says:

    Can you imagine a health-giving diet that allows you to eat what you crave, and as much of it as you want, while bringing you to, and maintaining your perfect weight?…

    …Sounds like something that only exists in Heaven right?…


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    This article reveals a true self esteem diet that gets you the body you were meant to have — which isn't overweight or malnourished.. .

  21. […] if you’re my friend or student you probably know by now that I have strong opinions about how the media portrays women. Sometimes I like to get on my high horse and ride him around town about those […]

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