Diary of a Success Story
By Sherry Amatenstein
Originally posted on 3/31/03 at
Denise grew up in an Italian family, surrounded by plenty of food and feasting. But when she joined Weight Watchers, she learned to eat healthy and reward herself with things beside food. She was so inspiring, we at Weight Watchers wanted to tell her story. Not only did she let us do that, she let us tag along to her photo shoot and told us all about what it was like to be a WeightWatchers.com Success Story. Let's watch...
It's the start of her adventure, but... "I'm a nervous wreck," Denise, a 5' 5" redhead, confides. "Last night I dreamt that none of the clothes fit, that I didn't like any of the choices and that I was a bad model."
Her first two concerns are allayed quickly as she and Billie, the wardrobe stylist, pore over the variety of appealing clothes splayed throughout the second floor of a chic Manhattan loft. Downstairs is the "set." Denise tries on a floral dress that looks smashing but doesn't feel comfortable. She climbs into and out of several more outfits and nearly decides to go with black pants and a red-accented sleeveless top. It's flattering, but she finds that the eighth ensemble — an aqua and chocolate top with flared sleeves and tight sand-blasted jeans — really looks the best. Billie fastens a silver necklace around Denise's throat. Staring in shocked appreciation at her reflection in the full-length mirror Denise says, "Okay, my bottom is a little shapely, but it works for J. Lo."
Next is her most-anticipated part of the day – hair and makeup. "I'm such a girl," Denise laughs. She blushes as Steven, the makeup artist, praises her "classic face." He coos, "She has high cheekbones, beautiful almond eyes, a delicate nose, full lips and high cheekbones." Denise adds, "Six months ago I didn't have cheekbones." She loves what Steven does with a blow dryer and teasing comb. "Big hair makes me look skinnier."
When she's deemed camera-ready, Denise's smile lights up the room. "This whole thing is so unreal. I love it."
It's time for the actual shoot. Denise stands barefoot in front of the white backdrop. Billie hands her the shoes they've selected. Denise, a self-proclaimed "flats girl" was afraid she'd stumble if she had to walk in the 2 ½-inch heels. Lively dance music permeates the room as Luciana, the photographer, says, "Let's rock it out!"
Luciana shouts encouragement as she snaps away: "You look hot!" "When you jut your hip out, it's sexy." "Gorgeous." "Yes, turn your head to the side." "Gimme a big smile."
Four rolls of film later, it's over.
"Wow, that really was 15 minutes," Denise says, laughing. She studies a test Polaroid of herself. "I look skinny."
The one thing that doesn't make Denise happy about the shoot is that it's over. "I almost want to gain weight, then lose it again so I can be another Success Story."
By RICHARD GRAY HEALTH CORRESPONDENT
Originally posted on 3/12/06 at: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman. com/health.cfm?id=372082006
ANYONE planning to go under the knife to improve their looks should heed a warning from the nation's leading plastic surgeons: the camera does lie.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) claims rogue practitioners are cleverly manipulating "before and after" photographs to make their work appear far more effective than it is.
The organisation has now issued strict guidelines to its members on the dos and don'ts of "before and after" photography.
A conference organised by BAAPS last week heard details of some of the tricks which are used to manipulate surgical results.
Genuine patients are frequently photographed in the least flattering way before and the most flattering afterwards, wildly distorting the true effect of the procedure.
Attended by more than 300 plastic surgeons on Friday at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, the conference was shown how even simple changes in the lighting of a photograph can dramatically mislead patients about what to expect.
Among the tricks highlighted at the conference were:
• Taking the "before" photo of nose surgery slightly from one side and then the "after" head on to give an impression the nose has been reduced;
• Shifting a patient from a sitting position to a lying position to allow gravity to flatten stomachs and change breast shape;
• Lighting a subject from the sides to reduce wrinkles in "after" shots, while lighting from above and below to increase the signs of ageing in "before" shots;
• Taking pictures from a distance to give the impression that blemishes have been "smoothed", simply because the camera will pick up less detail;
• Using soft focus photographs to help hide unsightly scars.
Charles Nduka, a plastic surgeon at St Mary's Hospital, London, said digital picture manipulation software had made it easier than ever for surgeons to boost business by altering photographs.
But he demonstrated that simply by changing the model's position and lighting he was able to produce a surgery-free "face lift".
"One could rightly claim that these images are not re-touched," said Nduka. "But changes in lighting and positioning of the subject can produce impressive results.
There is widespread use of manipulated images in the media and also on the internet.
"Undoubtedly photography is a vital tool for the plastic surgeon, but with the advent of digital photography and desktop publishing software it is very easy, even for the novice, to manipulate images.
"This is important both in marketing material from commercial companies and in research publications describing novel techniques where the issue of research misconduct has been an important topic recently.
"In the absence of specific guidance on its appropriate uses and potential for abuse, patient trust may be harmed."
Norman Waterhouse, a consultant plastic surgeon with a practice in London's Harley Street, said: "Magazines seem to be full of before and after pictures showing the apparent benefits of cosmetic treatments.
"Surprisingly, there is currently no code of conduct in the use of photographs by plastic surgeons during pre-operative counselling and marketing."
Plastic surgery has surged in popularity in recent years, with 16,367 operations being carried out by BAAPS members in their private practices in 2004. In 2005 they experienced a 34% rise.
Surgeons claim the rise in the number of people going under the knife has been fuelled by the growing acceptance of cosmetic surgery and the increasing number of celebrities openly admitting they have had a nip and tuck.
But they also fear that overuse of manipulated images in magazines and in marketing material will lure patients into having surgery with unrealistic expectations of what cosmetic surgery can do for them.
In one infamous example, the British actress Kate Winslett was heavily airbrushed for an appearance in the men's magazine GQ. She was furious that the magazine had retouched her pictures to make her look slimmer. "I do not look like that and more importantly I don't desire to look like that," she said afterwards.
BAAPS has produced a series of guidelines on best practice when taking photos, which it expects it members to adhere to.
They set out standardised procedures for lighting a subject and how to position a model for an accurate image. They also state the correct method of handling digital images and set out what photographs should be used for.
Adam Searle, president of the association, said photographs were a valuable tool for documenting new cosmetic procedures, aiding patient consultations and for marketing.
He said: "We promote the highest ethical standards in aesthetic practice, including the use of modern photography techniques. They can be a powerful tool for documentation and research purposes, and must be used responsibly."
A spokeswoman for patient counselling website Cosmetic Support said: "We are often contacted by people who have seen photographs in adverts in the back of magazines or are shown them by a surgeon, but when they have the surgery themselves are disappointed with the results.
"The problem is that people trust photographs and forget that images of a patient after surgery may have been touched up, focused and aligned."
Patients need to take a step back and ask a surgeon realistically what they can do for them. They have to remember that advertisers don't use photos from a realistic angle, but the best angle."