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Unretouched Photos of Madonna Show How D&G Insults Its Customers

Unretouched photos of Madonna leaked from the new Dolce & Gabbana campaign show that the 52-year-old entertainer does not, unsurprisingly, have the milky smooth skin and buoyant breasts that appear in her ads. The difference between Madonna in real life (yes, she has muscles; no she doesn't look like she's still in her 20s) and the ads is so startling it says more about the insulting way the fashion industry regards women than it says about D&G's clothes.

It also provides yet more fuel for those who want laws passed to either ban or require disclosure of the use of Photoshop and other image retouching software on ads. Many consumers are so fed up with the lies advertisers tell about models that PhotoShop bans and disclosure laws have been proposed in France, Australia, and the U.K. (both this year and last). Even some Americans would support a ban in the U.S.


Such laws have no chance of passing here due to the First Amendment's free speech guarantee. In other countries, however, free speech is more of a tradition than an absolute right and governments often use a heavy hand in the regulation of commercial speech. It's not completely impossible to imagine a PhotoShop ban in France or Scandinavia, for example.

That would create headaches for international advertisers who want their campaigns to go global. Some companies would, in theory, be forced to disclose the use of PhotoShop in all their ads in order to reduce the expense of producing separate ads for each country. Ralph Lauren, for instance, clearly has the same staff producing improbable images of women for many different countries.

But back to Madonna. D&G is not-so-subtly telling her, we want your name in our advertising but we don't like your skin, chest, arms, legs or face. Even in D&G's video, Madonna is so over-lit and under-focused that she appears as a shimmering white blob. In its edits, D&G is suggesting that even when a woman is in her 50s she ought to still have the physique of someone three decades younger. That's biologically impossible, as these images of Madonna -- a professional dancer with a personal trainer and a private macrobiotic chef -- prove.

It's a shame because Madonna is a handsome woman as is, and for some reason no one at D&G can see that.


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