Justin Bieber won rave reviews earlier this week after he was revealed as the new face of Calvin Klein. But while fans, fashion editors and the Internet went crazy over the shirtless underwear and jeans shots and videos of the singer with model Lara Stone, allegations of Photoshopping soon entered the picture.
On Thursday, website Breathe Heavy posted an allegedly un-retouched photo of Bieber as a GIF and fixed image, seemingly showing the Canadian with less muscle and far smaller bulge than seen in the official Calvin Klein underwear print ad shot.
By late Friday, TMZ reported Bieber’s legal team punched out a cease and desist letter to Breathe Heavy and threatened to sue them in a defamation lawsuit. Camp Bieber claimed the photoshopped “unretouched” images posted at the website hurt the singer’s brand and demanded that the site remove the pics and issue a retraction.
Accordingly, the image and GIF were removed from the website and their Instagram. They also apologized to Bieber and his fans and retracted their claims with this statement.
“Team Bieber sent BreatheHeavy a cease and desist letter because of the alleged un-retouched Calvin Klein photo we posted, asking we remove the picture in question as well as provide a retraction.”
“Because BreatheHeavy is not about making anyone feel bad or intentionally stirring the pot (and are definitely not here for lawsuits), we shall retract the story per request. Bieber denies the photo is real, and I respect that and will believe him.”
“We sincerely apologize to Bieber for the hit to his ego and to the millions of tweens on social media we upset: Swag swag swag, on you. Chillin’ by the fire while we eatin’ fondue.”
Because the so-called “unretouched” pic was photoshopped, it led people to think Bieber’s bulge was padded for the Calvin Klein shoot. By way of apology, Breathe Heavy linked to a statement given to Access Hollywood by the Biebs’ fitness trainer, Patrick Nilsson, who basically said the singer had quite the package.
“I can definitely confirm that he is a well-endowed guy,” adding,”I sound weird saying that, but yes.”
Lastly, after making up a claim that an alleged source revealed Bieber acted up on set and kept hitting on Stone, Breathe Heavy linked to an Us Weekly report, which ran statements from Melisa Goldie, Chief Marketing Office at Calvin Klein, praising the singer’s conduct at the CK shoot.
Justin showed up early every day with amazing energy. He completely trusted us and gave it his all… He came alive when it was time to perform, especially when the drum kit came out — it was really impressive.”
Breathe Heavy’s allegations were clearly baseless, as the website obeyed the cease and desist letter within hours of receiving it. But many fans disliked the seemingly snarky tone in which the site framed its retraction, given how far the photoshopped pic and false claim of bad behavior traveled. After the site posted the pics, it crashed from increased traffic on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Thomas Seal, editor of web magazine Yoppul Online, noted the following.
Interesting how gleefully Calvin Klein story was reported by all the usually anti-body-shaming outlets. Doubt Bieber demanded Photoshop.
— thomas seal (@politiccautious) January 9, 2015
As a result of the Photoshopping claims, numerous media outlets ridiculed Bieber in body-shaming reports, and it can’t be denied that the controversy eroded some of the euphoria many fans expressed when the the Calvin Klein ads were first unveiled on January 6.
For their part, Calvin Klein have maintained a classy presence, expressing its position by tweeting relevant articles such the Us Weekly and Access Hollywood articles.
The brand also posted a picture of a shirtless and ripped Bieber from his Fashion Rocks turn last September to their Instagram and Twitter accounts on Friday night alongside the caption, “Can’t touch this.”
So, fans and non-fans: You can fall back in j’adore with the Calvin Klein campaign. Are the pictures airbrushed? Of course. All fashion, music, and other photoshoots airbrush product results. But airbrushing is totally different to Photoshopping.
Go ahead people. Enjoy the pretty pictures and ponder on Bieber’s bulge. It’s all real.
[Images via Calvin Klein / Breathe Heavy]