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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Caroline Forsling Sues Over Altered Photo

Swedish Model and former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Caroline Forsling is suing Estee Lauder for $2 Million. Forsling has filed a lawsuit alleging that Origins and its parent company Estée Lauder used her image without permission for an ad promoting an anti-aging skincare line aimed at women aged 45 to 60.

Forsling, 35, took a few test shots while wearing little to no makeup for a Lauder hair care product last year and claims she didn't know that one of the pictures would be used as the "Before" half of the advertisement, much less (allegedly) Photoshopped to make her look older. She has alleged:

"Defendants did not disclose in the Plantscription ad . . . that Forsling never used Plantscription, that Forsling is not aged 45-60 or that the so-called 'dramatization' of the product did not result from the use of the product by Forsling, but rather reflected [their] manipulation of a photograph," the suit notes. The suit seeks a court order "barring defendants from any unauthorized use of Forsling's image or likeness," and money damages for the company's "false advertising and deceptive acts."

Estée Lauder has yet to file an answer but for anybody who knows anything about modeling and advertising, the fact that this ad is a farce should be no surprise. Nor should the use of photo retouching to create a digitally altered before and after. But for a 30-something model once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, to be shown without makeup in an anti-aging ad aimed at women two decades older is nothing short of career suicide as well as constituting false advertising and deceptive acts.

Forsling is best-known for her commercial work with Clairol, Michael Kors, Tod's and J.Crew, walking the runway for Chanel and Ralph Lauren and posing for the 1998 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Now she is worried that this campaign has seriously harmed her career and is seeking not only monetary damages but also prevent “defendants from any unauthorized use of Forsling’s image or likeness” in the future.

Forsling says she did not give her consent to use the test shot, and was taken aback when she saw that it had later been used in a dramatization showing the serum’s results.

Forsling ad photo

Citing a clinical study on women aged 45 to 60, the ad (above) shows one half of Forsling’s face to be dark and with visible wrinkles, while the “after” half appears smoother and younger looking.

Forsling has a good case that her image and likeness was appropriated without her consent by Estée Lauder. This is certainly an interesting case in an industry where retouching of photos is common, but begs the question, how much is too much?

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