Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beauty, Thinness and the Photoshopped Model

The camera doesn't lie. That old adage stopped being true some time ago. Photoshop and other image editing programs make it increasingly difficult to tell where reality stops and artistry—or deception—begins.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the world of fashion. While you're highly unlikely to run into Photoshopped plumbing fixtures, Mustang parts, or kitchenware online, Photoshopped models are a dime a dozen, presuming the dime was actually a quarter that was Photoshopped down to a smaller size.

Perfect Isn’t Good Enough
Portrayals of the ideal woman as a tall, skinny size 0 have dominated popular media for years, resulting in untold numbers of eating disorders and body image issues. The average woman weighs approximately 23 percent more than the average female model. When the average dress size in American is a size 14, a constant stream of supermodels who meet the physical requirements for anorexia can’t help but have a negative effect.

And just when you think society's notions of beauty and thinness couldn't get any worse, along came Adobe Photoshop. Now let's be clear—photo editing, touch up and air-brushing have been standard parts of the photography trade for years. With Photoshop, however, suddenly even the thinnest model could be made to look even thinner. "Perfect" is no longer good enough.

You See, but You Do Not Observe
Sherlock Holmes leveled that criticism at Dr. Watson, and the same can be said of many of us. It's telling that many model pictures have been so obviously, and badly, Photoshopped. It's not unusual to see edited images of women who quite literally appear to have the same physical dimensions as Barbie, and we all know their backs would snap like a twig if it was real.

Yet people often overlook even the most outrageously Photoshopped images, even when a woman's waist is reduced to a narrower size than her head. As a culture, we're so accustomed to seeing Barbie measurements on dolls, cartoons, and in art that apparently we're willing to accept them as real on a fashion model.

And some Photoshopped images are, indeed, terribly done. Take for instance a widely-publicized picture of model Kate Moss and her daughter, where an overzealous airbrusher left Moss' daughter with only two fingers and a thumb. The photo makes it look like the daughter's hand is merging with her mother's back. And that was one of the more subtle mistakes you see in these images.

Photoshop is a valid editing tool, and has plenty of great applications. However, reducing models' waists to pencil-thin diameters shouldn’t be one of those applications. We don’t expect digitally-altered kitchenware or Photoshopped classic Mustang parts models. Why should we accept Photoshopped people?

Now that you know more about Photoshopped models, expand your horizons and consider learning more about Mustang parts. Post written by guest blogger Michael McGrath.

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