11 Photo-Editing Flubs: Ralph Lauren Ad Sparks Controversy

Ralph Lauren

An image of an impossibly thin Ralph Lauren model has stirred quite the brouhaha in the blogosphere.

A new ad shows the model Filippa Hamilton sporting the designer's latest ensemble, but, through photo-editing, her waist has been whittled down to appear smaller than her head.

In late September, the blog Photoshop Disasters posted the ad, as did the blog Boing Boing, adding the caption: "Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis."

Ralph Lauren didn't take too kindly to the online attention and, last week, sent out copyright infringement notifications in response to the critical blog posts.

In a letter dated Oct. 6, PRL USA Holdings, Inc. (Ralph Lauren) informed Boing Boing that the Web site did not have authorization to post the ad and asked that the site remove the image.

Google's Blogger, the blogging platform that hosts Photoshop Disasters, was also served with the notification and removed the image. But Boing Boing refused.

"Instead of responding to their legal threat by suppressing our criticism of their marketing images, we're gonna mock them," Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "So, to Ralph Lauren, GreenbergTraurig, and PRL Holdings, Inc: sue and be damned. Copyright law doesn't give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over stuff like this, we will:

a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;

b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and

c) Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models."

In a statement, Ralph Lauren acknowledged that the image had been doctored.

"For over 42 years we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman's body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately," according to the statement.

Ralph Lauren's digitally altered ad is just one of many manipulated photographs to court controversy. Here are 10 others.

1. Microsoft Ad Changes Man's Race

In August, the blogosphere went wild over an image in a Microsoft Corp. ad that had been edited to change a man's race from black to white.

In a photo featured on the company's U.S. Web site, three colleagues -- one white, one black and one Asian -- sit around a conference room table. But in the same photo on the company's Polish site, the face of the black man had been replaced with the face of a white man.

The gaffe sparked quite the discussion online, as bloggers and commenters wondered if the change was racially motivated, the result of poor judgement or both. Some people suspected that the computer technology giant changed the Polish image so that it matched the country's own racial composition.

It even inspired the popular tech blog TechCrunch to launch a contest to see who can manipulate the funniest head onto the Microsoft ad.

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