Missguided Stretch Marks Photoshop Controversy Deepens & The Internet Is Torn

Ad failed to load

Last week, the women of the world rejoiced when fashion brand Missguided uploaded imagery to their website in which models' stretch marks were on full display. A promising step in the right direction, I thought. But now, in a twisted turn of events, a photographer is claiming that Missguided Photoshopped stretch marks onto their models' bodies, and my hope that the brand was setting the standard in regard to body inclusivity has been crushed.

Over the weekend, photographer Chloe Sheppard accused the brand of digitally altering their photos to actually add stretch marks onto models' bodies. Having previously worked with Missguided on their prom 2017 look book, and shot for respected publications with the likes of Dazed & Confused, i-D and Nylon, Sheppard knows a thing or two about how to spot Photoshopped pictures.

On Saturday, Sheppard uploaded an image of herself in which she proudly shows off her own stretch marks to Instagram, accompanied by an understandably scathing caption. "I suppose this is somewhat a response to *a certain company's* recent tasteless move editing stretch marks on a model, which was clearly a marketing tactic to make their brand seem 'representative' and 'not conforming to normal conventional beauty standards' but actually it's just bullshit," she began.

Ad failed to load

Sheppard went on to explain that stretch marks are not a trend, and shouldn't be used as such to sell products. Indeed, millions of women, including myself, have to deal with insecurities related to their stretch marks, so if a brand creates fake ones as a marketing strategy, it's pretty insulting. Plus, as Sheppard points out, there are plenty of incredibly beautiful models who actually have stretch marks that Missguided could have used.

Ad failed to load

"It's quite honestly insulting and does the opposite of what they probably intended. It reiterates the idea that stretch marks/eating junk/thick thighs whatever are OK but only when applied to a skinny girl. I'm just bored of all these companies acting like they give a shit and want to represent everybody when they really don't," she wrote.

After the post went live, The Debrief asked Sheppard to explain how she knew the images had been altered. After all, when the news first broke last week that Missguided had stopped editing their images, I checked out their website right away and was convinced that the pictures were real. While Sheppard does reveal that one of the models in question actually does have stretch marks (her friend showed her a clip of the model doing a swimwear video for Missguided), she remains confident in her conclusion that the photos were altered to make them more apparent.

Ad failed to load

"Go to their original Instagram post and zoom in on where the stretch marks are, you can see little bumps and white shadowing from where something has been done to that area on Photoshop," she told The Debrief. "The stretch marks are also completely different patterns in the two photos which made me think they were doctored on."

If this is truly the case, it's a huge shame. I can’t tell you how important it is, both on a societal and personal level, for stretch marks and other "imperfections" to truly be celebrated in the media, and not just used as a marketing ploy.

Ad failed to load

I grew up dancing six days a week and was always super thin until I tore my ACL and had to quit the sport I loved. That was during my senior year of high school, and by the time I finished my first semester of college I had gained 15 pounds (ironically NOT due to alcohol) and found myself marked with squiggles of bright purple stretch marks across my hips and butt. I was horrified. I refused to wear a swimsuit, was embarrassed to tell my friends, and tried every remedy I could Google to get rid of them.

I thought I was one of few girls my age with stretch marks because I never saw them on anyone else. Eventually, they faded into silvery little stripes that I’ve now come to accept even love! but I still can’t get over how upset and embarrassed I had been about something that nearly all women have. And yes, that includes models. (Remember when the world seemed to let out a collective gasp last year when Victoria’s Secret released a photo of Jasmine Tookes that showed her stretch marks?)

In response to Sheppard's accusations, Missguided released a statement.

Ad failed to load
All accusations that we have Photoshopped on stretch marks are entirely untrue. Our aim is to inspire body positivity, so our policy is to not photoshop out what are generally perceived as 'flaws'. Photoshopping them on would negate our message, which is all about celebrating who you are and not striving for unrealistic perfection."

I can only hope this is true. No one's insecurities should be turned against them as a means of getting them to buy things. Rather, they should be normalized (because stretch marks ARE normal) so that girls can grow up loving themselves completely and without exception. As Kendrick Lamar puts it in HUMBLE, "Show me somethin' natural, like a** with some stretch marks."

The internet overwhelmingly agrees that brands should stop editing their photos, but can't seem to decide whether they should praise Missguided for showing stretch marks on their site, or question the brand for the photos' authenticity:

Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load

Thankfully, there are other companies out there that definitively aren't airbrushing their models. Earlier this year, it was revealed that ASOS had stopped photoshopping their imagery, while the recently launched Rheya Swim emphasized they won't doctor stretch marks out of photos. These are amazing steps, but in light of this whole debacle involving Missguided, I can't help to wonder if it isn't time we stop praising brands for showing people as they naturally are? That shouldn't earn them the title of being revolutionary or "woke" or inclusive. It should just be reflective of women IRL.

Stretch marks are a part of growing and maturing and developing into yourself; they should be a source of pride rather than shame.

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

3 Important Red Flags To Watch Out For When You're Dating Someone Older Than You

My first serious relationship was with someone almost ten years my senior. We got together during my first semester of college (after meeting through mutual friends) and I'd be lying if I said our breakup didn't have anything to do with our significa…
By Sydnee Lyons

These "Millennial Cruises" Will Make Your Next Friend Group Vacation So Lit

If you're a millennial right now, consider yourself lucky. If you're a millennial with the travel bug, consider yourself luckier. I know, you might be thinking, "But... money!" Trust me, I get it. Plane tickets and hotels can get expensive as you cou…
By Amanda Fama

5 Trends From The '90s Are Making A Serious Comeback, So Somebody Page Cher Horowitz

I was born in the '90s and my childhood was one Caboodles train case packed with scrunchies and butterfly clips after another. If you could believe it, early '90s fashion is already considered vintage (I officially feel old AF) and according to sprin…
By Stephanie Montes

5 Social Things You Can Do To Feel Less Lonely If You’re Single

Being single and being lonely don’t have to go hand-in-hand. Just because you don’t have a significant other, doesn’t mean you aren’t surrounded by wonderful people who love and care about you. But once in a while (especially if you’ve been single fo…
By Veronica Lopez

6 Subtle Red Flags That Could Mean You’re Sleeping Way Too Much

Have you ever woken up after an unusually long night of sleep and felt, well, kind of awful? Whether you roll out of bed feeling super dehydrated, nursing a throbbing a headache, or you simply feel stiff as a board, there are reasons why your body mi…
By Annakeara Stinson

These 6 Workouts Can Be Done Right On Your Couch, & Yes, They Do Count As Exercise

Ever have that feeling when you're watching the Olympics like you should be working out, or at least stretching, but in reality you're just laying around eating chips? Yeah, me neither. But if you do ever feel that pull to work out when you're just l…
By Annakeara Stinson

10 Things You Should Say To Your Partner Every Day To Keep The Love Alive

When it coms to love, falling into it is a lot easier than maintaining it. There’s a reason, after all, that it's called "falling" in love, because it's mostly out of your control — the heart just takes over. Because those emotions come so easily and…
By Rachel Shatto

Science Says These 8 Foods Can Help You Live Longer, So Eat Up

If you're looking to live forever, or at least for an appropriately long amount of time, then the best way to get started on your journey toward immortality is to think about what you're putting into your body for fuel. Think of your diet as the batt…
By Caroline Burke

I Live In London & When Guys Find Out I'm American, They Only See Me As A Fling

I first entered the world of dating apps during a semester abroad in London, and I had zero idea what I was getting myself into. I was 21, had only ever dated boys I'd met through work, school, or mutual friends, and my appreciation for romantic come…
By Genevieve Wheeler

Here's Exactly How You'll Fall In Love, Based On Your Astrological Sign

One of my favorite things about learning about my zodiac sign and others' is learning patterns about my behavior that I can acknowledge and use to my advantage. As a Scorpio sun sign, I know I'm typically described as mysterious, drawn to loyal peopl…
By Elana Rubin

These 8 Red Flags Might Mean You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard In Your Workouts

If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," or you frequently exclaim that your HIIT circuits "hurt so good," you're probably the type of person who challenges yourself to the max during your workouts. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, i…
By Georgina Berbari

These "Awkward" Proposal Stories Show There's No One Perfect Way To Get Engaged

There are a few adjectives people use to describe proposal stories that tend to be a bit more common than the rest. You know what I mean. How many times have you heard someone describe their marriage proposal as "magical" or "romantic" or — my person…
By Candice Jalili

This $20 Toy Simulates Pimple Popping, So You Can Save Your Face (But Still Lose Your Dignity)

As a self-proclaimed popaholic, I am not ashamed to admit that I love watching pimple popping and blackhead extraction videos. Call me gross, but I find it immensely therapeutic and satisfying. To all of my fellow weirdos, we’ve been blessed with a n…
By Ariana Marsh

Meghan Markle Uses This $13 Natural Wonder To Grow Her Eyebrows Back & You Can Too

Meghan Markle is the world's new go-to celebrity for all things fashion and beauty — she's marrying a prince after all, so she must have some tricks up her sleeve. Meghan Markle's beauty routine is just as intricate as mine, because that's how real s…
By Alison Turka

7 Foolproof Things To Do Every Day If You're Tired Of Being Lazy AF

Being lazy can be oh-so-lovely. Until you start letting life pass you by, and not living to your full potential, then suddenly, it's not so good anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends when I can stay snuggled up in bed just a bit longer. Hit…
By Marisa Casciano

This Is How Long Most People Wait To Say "I Love You," Science Says

If I had to choose one word to describe saying "I love you" to your partner for the first time, I'd have to go with... hmm, exciting? Nope. Thrilling? Hardly. Terrifying? YES. Exactly. Saying "I love you" for the first time is terrifying. What makes …
By Candice Jalili

6 Reasons To Travel Abroad With Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend In Your 20s

Traveling can be many things: hectic, expensive, and definitely stressful. But with the right people or person beside you, all those troubles kind of just melt away. That's why there are some solid reasons to travel abroad with your boyfriend or girl…
By Alani Vargas