entrants have been slammed as an 'appalling ' attempt to make the models appear thinner than they are.' />

Digitally altered photos of New Zealand's Next Top Model contestants have been slammed as an "appalling" attempt to make some of the models appear thinner than they are.

Publicity shots supplied to the Herald on Sunday, and shown to a number of image handling experts, show a number of the girls have been slimmed-down through photo enhancement.

Close-up shots of the images reveal contestants Amelia Gough and Lara Clare Kingsbeer's right thighs have been altered significantly, clearly showing where a portion of their legs have been shaved off. Nellie Rose Jenkins, one of the twins on the show, also appears to have had her left arm altered.

This comes just days after the TV3 reality show was criticised for posting photos on their website of some of the contestants, including a 16-year-old, with their breasts clearly visible.

The new individual photos were taken by photographer Russ Flatt after haircut makeovers, which aired on TV3 on Friday night, but he did not digitally enhance the pictures.

Top Model producer Anna Lynch said there had been no intention to deceive anyone about the girls' actual proportions, which were clearly visible on TV screens.

The photos were not used to judge the girls in the show, but were used to make up the "montage" shot of the girls that appears at the end of each episode, she said.

Re-touching usually removed things like pimples and stray hairs. The actual size of the girls is "no secret".

"We don't direct the re-touching process. The girls are judged on how they look, not on these photos," said Lynch.

"What we've tried to do is make the photos look as good as they can."

However, Media Design School course leader Joanne Lush said it was obvious the images had been re-touched to make certain areas of the girls' bodies appear thinner.

"It looks like they have purposefully tried to slim them down," said Lush, who has 10 years' experience in the graphic design industry.

"With both pictures it is quite obvious they have done work on their legs. The calf muscle on [Amelia's] back leg looks a little thin in comparison to the front leg, especially seeing as this is the leg holding her weight.

"If you zoom in [on Lara's legs] you can see that the pixilation is different above and below the join area.

"It looks like they might have actually lengthened her legs a little."

The alterations to the photographs have appalled Lynda Williams, co-ordinator of the Auckland Women's Health Council.

She said the re-touching made a statement to the models, and viewers, that the girls were "not good enough".

"It sends a totally impossible and unrealistic fantasy image of what women should look like," said Williams.

She believed New Zealand's fashion industry was becoming less subtle in their approach to what constituted "beauty".

"The fashion industry has always maintained that they're not as bad [as overseas] when things like this have been brought up."

Auckland fashion blogger Isaac Hindin Miller said retouching images was standard practice in the industry, but cutting 'bits' off the models - as appears in these images - was unacceptable.

"If Photoshop [or] airbrushing is used to remove blemishes, fine lines and perhaps the odd wobbly bit to smooth out the body, then I don't have a problem with it, but I can understand why people would," he said.

"But when it is used to cut whole sizes off a model then the company responsible is providing women with unhealthy examples of what they should be looking up to."

Hindin Miller said TV3 should be made to answer for their actions, given the show was popular among young women.