It seems like every time a new ad comes out for what ever reason, there’s always something on there that has been manipulated. While I do think digital manipulation can be a good thing, I do believe our society has taken it too far in many areas.
When I look at pictures of other girls on Instagram and magazines and even guys, I tend to get upset for a couple of reasons. The obvious one is that most of the time their picture has been manipulated so much that you wouldn’t be able to recognize them in real life if you saw them. The use of Photoshop has been taken to an extreme.
Take the Ralph Lauren model that was recently brought into light. The picture on the left is the picture that was Photoshopped. It’s obvious that she is disproportional and looks sick. The picture on the left is the same woman that has been Photoshopped somewhat less. She still doesn’t look super healthy but she doesn’t look as sick as the first picture.
I don’t understand why they think this is necessary. What does it prove or benefit? Evidently it sells a lot or they wouldn’t have done it. That brings me to another question, how long has this been going on? Where did it start?
When most of the well known magazines came out, their models were dressed classy and modest. Rarely would you see any magazine model in skimpy clothes or posing in a sexually suggestive way. They were seen as beautiful then but if you saw someone modeling a 50’s style outfit on Vogue now, the magazine would be ridiculed. And, to top it off, if the models looked real and not distorted in Photoshop, they would be ridiculed for that as well.
At the time that some of the first magazines were coming out, Photoshop did not exist so there was no way for them to manipulate, or even distort, the images of the models. However, they did have ways to ‘”touch up” the images so they didn’t look as raw. Air Brushing was one of the big techniques that was used to make the photo appear smoother and more visually appealing.
Touch up’s don’t bother me. Image distortions do. If you’re keeping the integrity of the person but making their skin appear smoother or taking away some blemishes, that’s fine. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is when you change an image so much that it looks nothing like the real person.
What kind of message are we giving young women and even men about their bodies? They are being shown standards that are almost unattainable. If they do reach that body shape, they’re so unhealthy that they can’t function or even die.
Because of these things, I would go as far as to say that distorting model’s images have caused things like bullying or even suicide. How could a simple change to a picture cause those things? Simple, they are creating a standard that is unattainable. However, if someone has attained that status and they look like the magazine models, they would be in a position to be tempted to bully others. One article I read went into detail about how these things can come about: “According to social comparison theory, individuals tend to compare themselves to others, and when the individual feels superior, the comparison triggers a positive emotional state. When the comparison leaves the individual feeling inferior, however, anger and decreased self-esteem are the result.”
Over all, I don’t have a problem with Photoshop or retouching images. I do have a problem with making those images untrue to the person and showing a standard to people that simply can not be reached.