Photoshopped Ralph Lauren Model Reveals That She Was Fired For Being “Too Fat”

I’ve been accused of being a cynic because I’m not more excited about the appearance of a sprinkling of plus-sized models in fashion magazines lately.  Well, over the past few days, I’ve been reminded why it’s hard to be very optimistic.  Last weekend, a firestorm of protest arose when a photo of Filippa Hamilton, a Ralph Lauren model, appeared online.  Or rather, it was a photo of Hamilton’s face and an extremely elongated version of her body – to the point where, as the blog Photoshop Disasters pointed out, her head was bigger than her pelvis. 

For people who hoped that this was a cruel joke, Ralph Lauren’s subsequent apology was shockingly pathetic: “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.”

Except, it wasn’t even really an apology.  There was no mention of the fact that they routinely photoshop women’s bodies – they simply regretted that the “poor imaging and retouching” that made the “caliber” of the “artwork” suffer.  Essentially, they were apologizing for crossing the line between unrealistic perfection and horrifying distortion.  But the really disturbing part is that the people who let this image through clearly didn’t realize that a line had been crossed.

As if this weren’t bad enough, Filippa Hamilton appeared on the “Today Show” this morning and made the shocking revelation that she was quietly fired from Ralph Lauren last April for being too fat.  “They fired me because they said I was overweight and I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore,” she said. 

Overweight.  Right.  Except Hamilton is 5’10″, and weighs 120 pounds.

Ralph Lauren claims that there is no connection between Hamilton’s firing and the photoshopped ad.  But Hamilton says that she was shocked to see the ad when it appeared, saying, “I was shocked to see that super skinny girl with my face,” she told the Daily News. “It’s very sad, I think, that Ralph Lauren could do something like that.”

The firing, and the photoshopping, are also sadly common, and rarely discussed.  What’s exciting about this is that Hamilton is willing to talk about her experiences publicly.  However, as Jenna over at Jezebel points out, there’s a difference between talking about an issue, or even identifying a problem, and taking responsibility for it.  This is not to say that Hamilton was responsible for her firing, but it’s disappointing that we’re only hearing about it now, six months later, in the wake of the photoshopping incident. 

And even more disappointing were the remarks of Cosmopolitan editor Kate White, who appeared on the “Today Show” with Hamilton.  White admits that there’s a “cycle” of models getting thinner and thinner, but gives no reason for this cycle beginning except to say that “the clothes got smaller” (but how did that happen? Magic?), and gives no indication about how this cycle can be broken – or even that it should be.  She then suggested that if women wanted heavier people on the covers of their magazines, they should complain, and back up their complaints with their money.  Because it’s really the public’s fault that the fashion industry demands proscriptive beauty standards of its models.

The whole situation is disturbing, and I hope that it’s given the proper coverage that it deserves.  Hamilton says she doesn’t think she’ll sue Ralph Lauren, and my question is why?  This event could turn into a great forum on body image, models, and the fashion industry, but I don’t want Ralph Lauren to get away with half-heartedly covering two massive injustices.  And hopefully, with our help, they won’t.

Photo courtesy of


Mac C.
mac C3 years ago

What a sad picture, poor girl. Her body doesn't look real or looks it doesn't belongs to her head, so that's the reason why she should sue RL. Although, if it were me, I wouldn't sue, but would walk away and leave that chapter with Ralph Lauren behind. Thanks for posting. Good wishes to Filippa!

Arnold B.
arnold B3 years ago


Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago

Her head was larger than her hips... Was she meant to be a Barbie doll????

Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago

Is Ralph Lauren so skinny himself?

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance3 years ago

I remember my stepmother telling me that I should weigh 95 pounds like her daughter who was 5 feet tall, or at most 105 pounds. I knew that was not going to happen, not to mention it wasn't healthy. I am 5 feet 6 inches tall, an average height for North American women and my ideal weight was 135 - 140 pounds.

This reminds me of Miss Representation that looks at how women are portrayed in the media . . . smaller is better; immaculately coiffed and dressed; at 40 the career is over especially if it involves camera work ie news anchors.

It is time to remind the likes of Ralph Lauren that women are real people, not stick figures. Coming generations depend on us.

Amy L.
Amy L3 years ago

Hamilton is 5’10″, and weighs 120 pounds - this poor child is underweight! When is the world going to appreciate women for being human beings rather that objects?

Chris C.
Chris C3 years ago

I buy ALL my clothes on HSN now - and some on QVC. They have the latest fashions in EVERY size - from XXsmall to 3X - and they usually have 3 lengths in pants - especially fashion jeans - petite, reg and talls. I NEVER shop at stores's just not necessary and the prices and amazingly low. I believe average size for American women is 14. That's reality!

Shannon M.
Shannon M3 years ago

How far have women really come? We can get better jobs than before but we are still paid less. And now, moreso than ever in history our bodies are being criticized and judged. It's no longer about jumping through hoops men don't have to (i.e. annoying leg shaving, unsafe high heeled walking, uncomfortable bras, time consuming/expensive makeup routines,) but now we are are expected to morph into shapes that are literally impossible to achieve. It cannot be done no matter how psychotically committed to pleasing men you are!

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller3 years ago

I agree with Angela-- let's keep it real! Real women and real pics and no apologies needed.

Nancy Hatcher
Nancy Hatcher3 years ago

I don't see Ralph Lauren sporting his "fashionable" skinny size.

I agree with Karen H. - never bought his clothes, never will........especially now!