Former Victoria's Secret photo editor reveals secrets, process of perfecting models

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Former Victoria's Secret photo editor reveals secrets, process of perfecting models

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Dimitrios Kambouris
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Model and Victoria's Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel from South Africa walks the runway during the 2015 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Lexington Avenue Armory on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)

A woman claiming to be a former photo editor for Victoria’s Secret confirmed what many people already suspected: The models gracing the advertisements don't necessarily look the way they appear in printed materials. 

In an interview with Refinery 29, the unnamed woman revealed secrets of how designers working for brands like Victoria's Secret use editing software to erase hairs and blemishes and to make thin bodies look curvier. She also said models use extensions to make their hair look fuller and employ other methods to make them look bustier.

"The first thing they do is they put in (hair) extensions. I don't think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair," the source said. "(Plus), they come to these photo shoots and ... they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have ... hairy armpits -- all the normal stuff (that nonmodels have)."

The insider said different tools make models look more voluptuous, including shaping pads and bras used underneath swimsuits.

"If you hold up the bathing suit in your own hand, it's so heavy because they have all this (stuff) sewed into it," she said. "(Sometimes), they put a push-up bra under the bathing suit, and we retouch out the bra ... They even did it with strapless stuff. When you're wearing a strapless bikini, in no way, shape or form (can) you have cleavage. It's physically impossible with the way gravity works."

And even with the built-ins, the anonymous source said, editors still make the models' chests look fuller and rounder. 

And contrary to the belief that most models are Photoshopped to look thinner, the source said some models have weight added to their images in order to hide ribcages and plump up posteriors. 

 "Models are thinner than you actually think they are, and we retouch them to look rounder," she said.  

But the woman admitted that the practice is damaging to women's self-esteem.

"I know what I'm doing is wrong, and that’s a huge part of why I'm not doing it full-time anymore," she said.

Even still, consumers are the ones who choose retailers that promote false and edited images.

"As a society, we're the ones who choose this," the source said. "If someone saw a picture of (imperfections), they probably wouldn’t buy the thing. They'd be like, 'This is like a really weird picture. Why would I buy this?'"

Victoria's Secret declined to comment to Refinery 29.

Read more at Refinery 29.

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