Enhancement vs. Modification

Since as long as humans have been around people have been trying to change the way they look. Whether this includes the clothing they wear, or for women, the make up they put on their face.  But, thanks to the great invention of modern technology, manipulating one’s appearance has become easier then ever.  From airbrush make-up, to surgery and liposuction, or the most effective and readily available form: Photoshop.

How far is too far when considering manipulating the way someone looks? How far would you go to make yourself into something that society calls “beautiful”. Unfortunately we see this most in the advertising industry when focusing on woman.  Thanks to how America describes beauty the advertising industry has thrown photoshop into their toolbox and use it more then  anything else at their disposal to change the way a woman looks. While I personally don’t see a problem with removing a pimple here and there, or enhancing someone’s eye color, I do have a problem with this tool being used to completely change a woman’s looks to match the “standard” that America has created for woman.  The video below shows the bizarre difference between what the model actually looks like, and the end product that shows up in the magazine.

All of the enhancements done before the photo was taken are expected before a photo shoot. Setting up the lighting, hair, make-up, but after the fact, she becomes a different woman.  From stretching out her neck and her legs, do changing the overall tone of her skin and hair, it is misleading and creates an overall view of beauty that is unattainable by anyone, including the model herself.  This is where I believe beauty modification has gone too far and creates unrealistic standards. Once you move beauty to a point that is beyond natural human control, you have gone too far.

While enhancing a person’s looks (or a photo) is not in part a problem, manipulating someone’s looks to a point of not being recognizable, should not be an acceptable way of portraying beauty.  Creating these beauty standards puts too much pressure on other woman, and especially young girls who look to the media for guidance in how they should look, causing all sorts of problems with body image.

Of course, this isn’t just happening in America either. Photography editors from all over the world follow a pattern and style that is a coveted beauty standard of their respected region.  Esther Honig, from Kansas City, Missouri, sent a photo of herself to over 40 editors in over 25 countries and asked them to photoshop her face in such a way that matched their culture’s ideas of beauty.  The photos she got back were completely diverse and very different from the original that she sent to each one of them.

Luckily, America’s ideas of beauty and how we view one another has started to make a change for the better. Multiple companies, including Dove,  American Eagle, and many others have created campaigns to focus on the real beauty of woman.  These companies make a point of letting the consumers know that they’re more concerned with real woman and who they really are. Even though I’m sure these were created as publicity stunts, good can come of it, and the ideas can lead to change.

My hope is that America is soon to change their ideas about real beauty is and how much is acceptable to correct and change in photoshop after a photo is taken.  There is a line between creative freedom and adding to much to a photo that makes the subject seems more perfect then real life.



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