Maybe she’s born with it? Yeah right! Has it ever crossed your mind- why the people covering the pages of glossy magazines or why those on the big screen look much leaner, longer and lavish than us average folk? Do you wonder why their cheekbones are much more defined? Why their hair is much sleeker and shinier? Or how they have fewer than four wrinkles? There is one simple answer to these questions, the art of Photo-shopping; The master of manipulative technology!
Magazines can be heavily criticised as realistically they “Fail to reflect our lives” and “Fail to reflect what we actually look like”. Models are beautiful in their own natural right, so why should we alter them? Why should we make them look a few pounds lighter? Why should we elongate their legs and frame?
Today in our present society magazines are presenting and advertising a certain type of body image which is far from natural. Don’t get me wrong, the final shots printed in a magazine mostly always appear flawless, but they are not portraying what was really in front of that camera lens. The finished article from a photo shoot is technically art; It is the editor’s perception of beauty, the editor’s view of the perfect appearance. Although in the public we are well aware that photo shopping does occur everywhere, I am not convinced that we know just how far the process of photo shopping can actually go. Yes, models are made to look as light as a feather and yes they have perfect, blemish free skin but photo shopping can go much further than that. This is perfectly illustrated in this video, showing the process of photo shopping, illustrating just how unrealistic our views on body image can be!
Photo shopping doesn’t just occur in fashion magazines, it’s on videos, the TV and even your favourite brands on-line site! This shot clearly shows the ‘digital slim-down’ Britney’s body underwent via CGI (computer generated imagery). This illustrates how the media is reinforcing and also normalising “a distorted idea of “average”. This introduces the idea of the photo shopped ‘thinspiration’, as the media is representing the average woman as much thinner than the vast majority of the population. However, the real truth of the matter is that “not everyone realises exactly how much these images are changed to fit some seriously un-human and unrealistic ideals that we view over and over”. In these before and after shots it is perfectly illustrated that the “feminine ideal is tanned, healthy slenderness, with no unsightly bumps, bulges or cellulite, and bodily and facial perfection that results from hours of labor: exercise, makeup and hair care” (Coward, 1985).
The idea of the ‘thinspiration’ is when members of the public drool and fixate over models or celebs. They long to have that slender frame with a flat toned stomach, those long defined pins or even the increasingly popular thigh gap. Although the problem arises when they spot there so called ‘thinspiration’ in the latest edition of Vogue or Elle, as the beauty they see and desire is achieved via photo shopping. Therefore, it is a highly unrealistic goal. As both women and men are digitally altered, consequently so are our perceptions of “normal, healthy, beautiful and attainable” .
People have recently caught on to the worrying idea that celebs might now be editing and photo shopping there own photos for their own social media sites. I’m not sure what is more concerning… The fact that celebrities such as Kim K (shown above) feels the need to edit her daily selfie? Or the idea that younger generations and fandoms who obsess over such celebs may be influenced by these misleading shots? In the photo above – the right photo is a photo posted online by Kim Kardashian, in this photo she appears to look thinner, more slight and also have a smaller waist in comparison to the photo on the left which shows her out and about that same day. Do these celebs ever think of the example they are setting for younger generations eager to follow there footsteps? Or is their biggest concern looking their best? Even if that does mean digitally shedding a few pounds.
The worrying thought is that it seems that the trend of editing your own selfies has rubbed off onto young teens, who also feel the need to photo shop as they do not meet the media’s representation of ‘average’. It is saddening to see that the pressure of looking good and achieving that ideal image leads to the photo shopping of day to day photos. But how can the younger generations be blamed for falling for the media’s manipulation and brainwashing when it even occurs in something as basic as Target’s (American retailing company) swimwear line? The changes the editors made such as the ‘thigh gap’ and removal of the so called ‘bingo wing’ stand out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, “this case study is pretty representative of thousands more that appear in magazines, on billboards, in advertisements, in stores and everywhere else you can think of every single day”.
This clip below shows four women taking part in a photo shoot experiment. They had their hair and make up professionally done to star in a professional photo shoot. The shots from the shoot were then retouched by an expert with the aim of making the women look like ‘Cover girls’. I feel that their comments speak volumes as they’re voicing the opinions that thousands of others shares- “It can be hard when you see models and celebrities and you just don’t look the same”. In their words, it is important to remember that “the ideal just doesn’t exist”.
To end on a happy note, lets all take a leaf out of Kara Zeschbach and Janet Sahm’s book, as Ashley Crouch tells us the founders of Verily magazine want us to remember that “the unique features of women, whether crows feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body, are aspects that contribute to women’s beauty and should be cleberated- not shamed, change or removed” (Crouch, Huffington Post, 2013). In my next post I will be looking at how people see perfection in their celebrity role models and how in some cases the idea of ‘copy cat’ fashion can be taken to the extreme. In the mean time, don’t forget to follow me on twitter @Jones94L Thanks for reading, until next time!