ModCloth Heads To D.C. To Fight Photoshopping

Photo: Courtesy of Modcloth.
Rep. Lois Capps & Susan Gregg Koger.
Online retailer ModCloth has always been vocal about the topic of photoshopping in fashion. Back in 2014, it was the first (and, at the time, only) retailer to sign the Truth in Advertising pledge and promise not to alter any of the models on its site. Yesterday, Modcloth’s founder, Susan Gregg Koger, headed to D.C. to take that pledge a step or two further: The retailer hosted an event on Capitol Hill to raise awareness for the Truth in Advertising Act, which was reintroduced in February, joined by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Lois Capps, and Rep. Theodore E. Deutch.

The Act is asking the FTC to step in and regulate material image altering (a.k.a. any ad that’s changed peoples’ bodies — whether that's by elongating necks, whittling waists or disappearing wrinkles). “It’s really timely, and it’s a bigger global conversation right now,” Koger told Refinery29 before the event. “It’s my first time meeting anyone from Congress and I’m excited to show them that there are people in the fashion industry that think this is a good idea, too.”

There’s another actionable step ModCloth customers (and, well, anyone who’s fed up with egregious photoshopping situations) can take — the retailer rolled out a new letter-writing campaign today as well. “We’re partnering with I Am That Girl and The Representation Project to start a letter-writing campaign to encourage our communities to get out and do something,” Koger said. “We’ve gotten a tremendous outpouring of feedback already.” The campaign already has nearly 3,000 supporters out of the 10,000 needed in total — you can join in by writing your own letter.

“Young women and men are often trying to live up to an unattainable and unhealthy ‘ideal body’ instead of a healthy body,” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “All stakeholders should come together and find a solution that respects consumer health and wellbeing while permitting creativity and artistic expression.”
Photo: Courtesy of Modcloth.
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In the near future, Koger hopes to spread awareness about the Act; longer term, she expects change to be quite gradual, but has some ambitious goals. “I’d love to see more and more representation in media, of different versions of beauty — and I’d specifically like to see women portrayed more authentically in media,” Koger said. “Even though I know what goes on behind the scenes, it still doesn’t make me feel good to feel like I’m not enough — that gets frustrating,” Koger said, noting that airbrushed images “aren’t healthy for anyone to be looking at, but especially for young girls.”

"We must do all that we can to ensure that our nation’s consumers have the tools necessary to distinguish real life from fiction…[to each] form a healthy body image," Rep. Capps said in a statement.

As for other retailers that have taken a stand against manipulated ads, like American Eagle’s Aerie brand, Koger is all for it — the more companies advocating for realistic portrayals of bodies, the better. And for ModCloth, promoting body positivity has long been a priority: “The strategy that ModCloth has always employed is to help our customers feel like the best versions of themselves, instead of putting forward unrealistic, unattainable beauty ideals.”
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