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The bodies of most of the models H&M features on its website are computer-generated and “completely virtual,” the company has admitted. H&M designs a body that can better display clothes made for humans than humans can, then “dresses” it by drawing on its clothes, and digitally pastes on the heads of real women in post-production. For now — in the future, even models’ faces won’t be considered perfect enough for online fast fashion, and we’ll buy all of our clothing from cyborgs. (This news sort of explains this.) (For more, visit Jezebel.)
When pressed, H&M said their decision to emphasize cyborgs over humans had everything to do with showing off their product–not showing us the perfect body. However, if real bodies can’t adequately display clothing made for humans, then the problem seems to be with the product, no? To be sure, the problem also lies with H&M. Their recent display of lifeless (and impossible) cyborgs provides only half of the story: stiff “flesh” trumps boundless human possibility. The other half lies in what’s not being said–that which undergirds the absence of humanity in H&M’s campaign.
I won’t pretend to know their line of thinking. However, I imagine this literal act of erasure has something to do with women’s bodies, whatever the size, color or shape, being constantly imagined on the underside of normal–as a work in progress or almost perfect delight. Whatever the case, women and girls are too often conceptualized in the land of “to be” and “not yet.” Obviously, the contradictions here, between our real-lived status and the popular imagination, are unsettling. Worse, for some this variance denotes crisis–on women’s part. Well, typically when there is a “crisis” the aim is to get rid of it. It seems that’s exactly what H&M did.
I guess we should resend the memo stating that women’s bodies do not signify crisis, but are instead beautifully and wonderfully made. Period. To my mind, the crisis at hand is the production, reproduction and circulation of impossible products for women.