The Evolving Controversy of Photo-Manipulation

by the Dustin H

Photo-manipulation has been around as long as photographers have been taking pictures. Over the years, it has evolved from switching heads and putting people in landscapes to creating whole new worlds and hilarious animal merges. The future of photo-manipulation is here and now, and it’s still expanding to new horizons bringing new ideas to life. Photo-manipulation has achieved a lot of good things, but unfortunately, it has brought controversy. I’m going to concentrate on the controversy of photo-manipulation and think about how it affects us now and in the future.

The biggest controversy as of late has been how we view the human body. Over the last 50 years, simple touch ups have mutated into extreme full body makeovers. This evolution has shaped and distorted society’s view of beauty. I remember when I was younger and began to take an interest in girls; I used media’s portrayal of human beauty as my measuring stick. I would look around at all these people and not see the same attractiveness as I saw in movie stars and actresses. Without even realizing it, I let media warp my view of beauty and it still taints me to this day. An article by Beauty Redefined called Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds shows just how much people are changed purely for the purpose of “looking their natural best.” 1_kelly-clarkson-compareThe example was Kelly Clarkson and her cover on Self Magazine, where Clarkson was heavily slimmed down. In the magazine, she told Self that her weight always changes and she’s okay with it. “Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more. I’ll be different sizes all the time. When people talk about my weight, I’m like, ‘You seem to have a problem with it; I don’t. I’m fine!’ I’ve never felt uncomfortable on the red carpet or anything.” Yet once the modifications were obviously shown on the cover, editor Lucy Danziger of Self defended the cover stating, “Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best…But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand.” Danziger went directly against what Kelly Clarkson said in her interview with Self. She is comfortable with herself and doesn’t need others to change her, which is exactly what Self did.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 8.34.13 PMThankfully, there are companies that are taking steps forward against this ridiculous view of beauty, such as Dove. Melissa Rayworth of Takepart wrote an article in 2014 going over Dove’s 10th anniversary for the Campaign For Real Beauty and how it has influenced not only other companies, but also celebrities and artists. After Dove’s “Evolution” video released in 2006, Hungarian artist Boggie took a new, fresh take on the video in 2013 by releasing a music video featuring herself being photoshopped, while singing her song Nouveau Parfum. Rayworth follows up on the video stating, “As the song unfolds, pieces of her disappear and are overwritten: Boggie’s eyes, like everyone else’s, aren’t exactly symmetrical. So one is deleted, then replaced by an exact copy of the other. Not a single square inch of her face or hair is left untouched.”

Amidst all the controversy and movements against the bending of beauty, photo-manipulation is still a wonderful gift that brings new and exciting ideas to life. Used correctly, it can better the human experience in entertainment, music, and education. I’ve had the opportunities to work on school projects that allow me to think outside the box and create a whole new world with different humanoid species. I’ve also been able to work with bands creating exciting cover art of landscapes and various subjects. The future holds new opportunities and we can hope that the knowledge of what’s right and wrong may stand true that distorting our perception of reality is wrong, but creating a reality for future thinking and ideas is the way of our future.

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