Australian model Meaghan Kausman says her "jaw literally dropped" when she saw that an underwater photo of herself used by a swimwear company had been photoshopped to make her look thinner, while her father, whom she credits with helping her maintain a positive body image, has also weighed in on the scandal.
Following a major online backlash to the altered photo, which the 23-year-old and the photographer, Pip Summerville, shared on Instagram along with the unedited shots, the firm, Australia-based Fella Swim, issued an apology.
"Thankfully, growing up with my dad as who he is, I have always had a positive body image," Meaghan told E! News in a recent interview. "I wasn't offended or upset that they didn't like my body in particular, I was upset for all the women out there that society has been telling are not good enough if they are not extremely thin."
Her father, Dr. Rick Kausman, advocates "healthy weight management" and is the author of the book If Not Dieting, Then What?.
"What a week it's been for my youngest daughter Meaghan," he wrote on Facebook on Friday. "If you have been following the story, you will know how incredibly brave she has been in openly discussing with the media how one of her photographs, taken by the wonderful Pip Summerville, (was without permission), photoshopped to completely change her natural body shape to some sort of supposed 'cultural ideal.'"
Meaghan had slammed Fella Swim earlier this week over the altered photos. She said on Instagram that she "is a size 8, not a size 4" (the equivalent of a size 4 and a size 0 in the United States) and that it is "NOT OKAY to alter a woman's body to make it look thinner. EVER!"
"When I first saw the photo, it took me a couple of seconds to notice that it was different," Meaghan told E! News. "But once I did, my jaw literally dropped. I was completely shocked that the swimwear brand thought it was okay to take mine and Pip's creative property and alter it. The photo shoot was a collaboration, so there was no payment or contract involved. The photo was not the swimwear company's to take."
"When contacted regarding the image, Fella sent an immediate apology to Meaghan Kausman and Pip Summerville and notified them that the photo would be removed out of respect," a Fella Swim rep told Today.com, adding that the company "does not believe in glamorizing skinny models, nor do they support an unhealthy body ideal."
Fella has not commented about the issue of compensation or rights over the picture. Meaghan told E! News she emailed the company two weeks ago and has not yet received a response.
"I said to the swimwear company how disappointed I was that they felt the need to alter the images," she said. "And that this was a very important issue to me and my family."
Meanwhile, she and the photographer have thanked the scores of people who have expressed their support.
"We think it is incredible that the world sees this as an important issue," Summerville wrote on her Instagram page, regarding the issue of body image.
"The response has been truly incredible, I am so very grateful," Meaghan said. "People have been saying thank you. That's pretty much all I could ask for."
—Reporting by Lindsay Caldwell