Adobe’s Photoshop is used by graphics editors to manipulate images for commercial use and to put silly antlers on the cat for the family Christmas card. (Seriously, I googled “Photoshop cat Christmas card” and found that image. Oh internet! You never disappoint!) But fashion editors, celebrities and magazine editors have all been subject to criticism these past few years for publishing altered images of models and celebrities while absolutely standing by their firm assertions that those images are reality.
You may have witnessed the Demi Moore “W” magazine debacle, the Ralph Lauren disaster, and the stoking of the already hot debate on what sort of message these images send to us, society at large, we who can see perfectly well these impossible waists, and we who already have endless internal dialogues about the size of our ankles and prominence of our cheekbones.
If you want to see a mesmerizing example of how Photoshop works, watch this video, brought to you by Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign few years ago.
(Ironically, in a fascinating article in the New Yorker about “the premier retoucher of fashion photographs,” Pascal Dangin admitted to working on that very Dove campaign in print media, “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.” You can’t make this up.)
The Internet is full of examples of “celebrities-before-and-after” retouching, and entertaining Photoshop disasters abound. But there is a not-so-subtle message here and it says, “your regular self isn’t good enough, NO ONE’S REGULAR SELF IS GOOD ENOUGH. That’s why everybody, even size-zero models, get ‘shopped.’” Then next thing you know, men and woman are subconsciously comparing themselves to fictional, digital beauty (and in some cases, disconcerting freakishness) and yearning for a standard of beauty that is completely unattainable, in that it is entirely imaginary.
I don’t believe that there is a sekrit WE WILL MAKE YOU HATE YOUR BODY AND LONG FOR PERFECTION YOU CANNOT ACHIEVE cabal, but like the whole overeating thing from last week, those are some of the unintended consequences of overuse of photo manipulation. So now here’s another thing I have to consciously watch for, the dysmorphing (I made up that word!) of my body image (like it isn’t completely screwed up already.) Why are “they” making me work so hard just to be not less crazy? WHY?
So in the the interest of manip-style honesty, I am including images of myself before and after Photoshop.
Link me your favorite little Photoshops of horror from the internets, and let’s have laughs at the expense of poor Photoshop skills! Maybe you’ll tweak (in the RIGHT direction) our images of what’s real and healthy and worth striving for in the process of sharing the lulz.