Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
It's nothing new for fashion bloggers to accept swag from brands in exchange for featuring certain products on their site. But blogger Maegan Tintari, who is the style editor for BlogHer and writes a blog called ... Love, Maegan, is seeing the sometimes-ugly side of those transactions.
Tintari writes that a handbag company called Brahmin, whom she had "worked with" in the past, offered her and several other style bloggers free bags in exchange for photos of them that they could potentially use in their next catalogue. Tintari accepted the bags, took some pictures of herself with them, and submitted them to Brahmin. They used one in their most recent catalogue. Sounds great, right? Not quite.
Tintari was excited to be included in the brand's catalogue and marketing materials, but when she saw the final photos she thought they'd been Photoshopped to, among other things, slim her nose:
My photo had indeed been altered... but at first I couldn't tell what on earth had been done to even get my face to look like that. Since I used to be a graphic designer, I thought the image had maybe been stretched to fit the print parameters. I emailed my contacts at Brahmin sort of laughingly and said I'm not sure what happened but this image has been photoshopped or stretched to fit and does not look like me at all. I included a link to a recent outfit post to show them what "I actually look like" and an "LOL" for good measure.
She then emailed Brahmin, who replied:
I agree that you look much different in your latest blog post but that is you with pulled back straight and darker hair. We did not photoshop or thin you out. We chose bloggers because we wanted you as you. We did crop photos and had to change yours to print quality as they were submitted in web quality too blurry for print. This however was not or would have resulted in your face changing. I am not sure why you think it looks different than what you sent us and we would be happy to send you original files for you to compare. Perhaps you are used to seeing online and not in print?
Is this much ado about nothing? Or is Tintari in the right? (Note: she admits that it was "dumb" to sign paperwork handing over the rights to her photos and not asking for approval of final images.) The problem is that it's pretty hard to go after a company you've accepted swag from in the past. Tintari has been given free products from the brand before, so her criticisms of them feel awkward.
If you'd like to compare notes, Tintari has posted her photos alongside the catalogue ones on her blog.
· Blogger Photoshopped for Catalogue Complains [GOMI]
· Photo Retouching Gone Too Far [... Love Maegan]