Chasing the Impossible Image

If you walk around in any major city, what is the one thing that you see the most? You see posters, billboards, and advertisements of these absolutely beautiful models. All of whom don’t have an ounce of fat on their bodies. Men and women both have these insane expectations by what is shown in the media. Women especially are so idealized in the media, that it is creating serious body image issues. When we see these pictures,  the first thing to pop into our head is, “Wow, I wish I looked like that.” or “I wish I was that thin.” But, in reality, that just has us chasing a goal that is completely impossible to reach.

As with last weeks topic, there is a fine line between technology helping us, and hurting us. Photoshop is a really cool program that expands the limits to what we can do with art. It makes average pictures seem breathtakingly extraordinary. It takes photography to the next level. It can make an iPhone photo look like it was taken with a professional camera. It has amazing upsides, but it can also be taken too far. You can’t get by with a photography job nowadays if you are not an expert at photoshop, too. But, Photoshop is actually spoiling America’s body image. These already beautiful models are being manipulated to the point where it is just on the verge of looking unnatural. Say goodbye to wrinkles, blemishes, and imperfections of any kind. Every model that you see on a poster has been manipulated in one way or another.

Claudia Lynx before and after Photoshop

And this isn’t just happening to actors and models. Nothing goes unedited these days. All of the major photographers’ Instagram accounts are riddled with pictures edited to grab the attention of the viewers. All of your favorite songs you hear on the radio are edited for hours and hours to get to a final product that they think the public will enjoy. Vimeo has some really neat videos that make me say “Wow, how in the world did they get that shot?” They are nothing short of amazing, but that is because they are EDITED to impress us as viewers! In all types of media, there is major editing going on. These programs like Photoshop, Pro Tools, Lightroom, and After Effects are all incredible inventions meant to take our passions to the next level. BUT, we need to make sure we don’t take that too far to where the final product isn’t even recognizable compared to the original.

Body image issues are REAL, people. These photoshopped pictures are causing serious problems in our society that must be addressed. Problems like eating disorders, depression, and various emotional issues are occurring more and more in our society today. Women are constantly comparing themselves to the unrealistic photos. Don’t believe me? In an article written by author and ad critic Jean Kilbourne, she states that 50% of 3-6 year old girls worry about their weight. 3-6 YEAR OLDS! That is absolutely horrifying. The only thing they should be worried about is what toy to play with next, not their weight issues. It is disgusting to me that our culture and society values physical appearance so much that it is that evident to children so young. But there are some people that recognize the problem at hand.

Source: W Magazine

But luckily there are some people that recognize the problem at hand. The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes the problem and has taken a stand against manipulation in advertising. Actors Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet also are anti-digital manipulation. Brad Pitt even requested that there be no manipulation on his W magazine cover, and selected Chuck Close as his photographer, who is known for making beauty out of imperfections.

The reality of it is, we need to be celebrating our imperfections and not trying to hide them. There is beauty in an unaltered picture, but unfortunately, we don’t see too many of those on large billboards. Though it may sound like it, I am not saying Photoshop is the enemy here. It is simply a tool which has been taken too far. There is a fine line between small touch-ups on a photo, and making it a different photo entirely.