Donald Trump’s best people digitally altered the image of a multiracial model to instead look dark-skinned in what appears to be an effort to increase diversity among his campaign. Specifically, within his online shop.
On Thursday morning, Eric Ming, digital director for Congresswoman Donna Edwards’ (D-Md.) senate campaign, revealed on his Twitter account that the model used on Trump’s site was apparently the same model used in the JCG Apparel online catalog, but painted with a photo-editing program to be a flat brown, devoid of tone or shading.
The model, who asked to remain anonymous pending legal action, confirmed with the Daily Dot that she was used in the original photo and digital alterations. She expressed feeling angry and violated that her image was shaded and used to represent the Trump campaign. She said she finds Trump “terrifying” politically.
While Ming connected the model’s image to JCG Apparel, based on Trump’s online apparel catalog it appears that his campaign buys a majority of its T-shirts from American Apparel, while JGC Apparel carries multiple T-shirt brands and doesn’t carry many of the items featured in Trump’s shop.
The changes don’t stop there. That same model is altered on the catalog page of Trump’s online store, but the photo is changed in a completely different manner. On the left is a photo of the model from American Apparel’s website, and on the right is a photo of the model wearing the item for sale.
While the model’s torso is the same between the original and digitally altered image as seen by her right hip bone and folds on the shirt sleeves, her limbs, chest, neck, and hair have been replaced with those of another model’s, possibly from the same clothing category on American Apparel’s website. In the attempt to change the model’s skin color, the border around her arms looks blocky and pixelated against the white background.
Even between the old catalog image and the new item description image, the similarities are disparaging. Below, the photo on the left is the original image, the model’s arms revealing palms that turn slightly outward. On the right is the updated photo, the arms pulled down and cropped out of the photo to hide the detail.
On Thursday night, Trump’s campaign changed the item description image from the photo on the left to the right, even apparently re-cropping the catalog image to hide the sloppy editing. The original catalog and item description pages can be seen below.
It’s unclear how long Trump’s people have let this go on. According to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, a website archive that takes “snapshots” of webpages as they appeared at certain moments in time, the model appeared tan on the website Aug. 9, 2015.
Nearly a month later, on Sept. 6, a darker image of the model appears.
Trump does have a few people of color modeling apparel featuring cropped-on campaign logos, but the photos are otherwise unaltered.
The Photoshopping uproar comes amid his campaign allegedly ejecting black students out of his rally without reason at Valdosta State University in Georgia on Monday, and his supporters pushing and shoving a young black woman as she was ejected from his Super Tuesday rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
Twitter users responded to Ming’s tweet by pointing out how shoddy the editing job looked, some questioning why Trump’s campaign didn’t just take a photo of a model of color themselves. Others reasoned that the campaign altered the image to save money—after all, Trump is paying all of these expenses out of his own pocket, sort of.
Now it’s just the mystery of which one of Trump’s staff is responsible. Could it be the one who accidentally used a photo of Nazi reenactors for Trump’s tweet of the American flag? Or perhaps it was the intern who accidentally retweeted a message mocking Iowans?
Ming, American Apparel, and Trump’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman