Victoria’s Secret photographer comes clean about RETOUCHING

Unless you've been living under a rock for the best part of a decade, you'll have been exposed to numerous debates on the prevalence of airbushing in the world of film and fashion.

And while very few amongst us genuinely believe Victoria's Secret models wake up looking as they appear on screen, the sheer number of re-touches a photograph will go through before making it to print is nothing short of astounding.

Giving the important – but now somewhat jaded – discussion the shot of adrenaline it needs, a former Victoria's Secret photographer, who chose to remain anonymous but was called Sarah for the purpose of the interview, spoke to Refinery29, and insisted that the images we see bear very little resemblance to the models who have posed for the images.

Trimming thighs and enlarging breasts is only a drop in the ocean in comparison to the number of re-touches a photographer will make to a model's face and body before it is presented to the public.

"The first thing they do is they put in hair extensions,” she explained. “I don’t think I ever was on a shoot with a model that had real hair."

And while the hair on their head may not be theirs, the body hair most certainly is, with Sarah saying: "No matter how closely you shave, you’ll have a shadow."

"They come to these photo shoots and, like, they have their arms up in the classic beach pose, and they have, like, hairy armpits. They all have stubbly pubes — all the normal stuff non-models have." she continued.

And while adding and removing hair sounds standard enough, it's nothing in comparison to the other switching-up they do, with Sarah revealing that requests which have included switching body parts between models.

 "Can you change these arms with a different girl's arms, because her arms are making it look like she's, like, picking her butt’ – or something," Sarah revealed.

And these nifty tricks go hand-in-hand with the stylist's ability to alter clothes in such a way that the average woman has no chance of ever recreating the look even if she were to spend thousands on the garment in question.

"If you hold up the bathing suit in your own hand, it’s so heavy because they have all this sh*t sewed into it," she explained. "They put a push-up bra under the bathing suit. And we retouch out the bra…a lot of staffers would complain because 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," she insisted.

Turning the notion that photographers are fixated on reducing a model's size completely on its head, Sarah said: "Models are thinner than you actually think they are, and we retouch them to look rounder. We have to curve them out.”

While Sarah no longer works for Victoria's Secret, she still works in the industry and adheres to personal principles when it comes to photographing models nowadays.

She refuses to trim waists, whiten teeth or enhance eyeball colour, saying: "I won't take in waists anymore. I refuse to do that. Nobody has really white eyes. I think it looks really crazy."

With a nod to the tremendous impact these processes can have on public psyche, Sarah admits she has fallen victim to her own industry's handywork on a number of occasions.

"I ordered a Victoria's Secret swimsuit this summer. And then I got it and, of course, it wasn’t as cute as in the photo," she admitted. "I'm the one retouching this stuff and I'm still not immune to marketing."

If the woman who produces these shots isn't immune to the effect, isn't it time we all cut ourselves some slack, acknowledge the images for what they are, and accept they are not representative of either the woman on the street OR the woman in the studio.