Saturday, 19 March 2016

Assignment 5, Beauty is in the eye of Photoshop

By the time they’re 17, girls have seen 250,000 TV commercials telling them they should be aspire to be a sex object or have a body size they can never achieve. (Day, 2014)

The use of photoshop on people in advertising and print needs to change.

The link to the petition can be found here.

In the description of this assignment, it was suggested to keep the issue local and personal.  I rattled my brain trying to come up with something that I thought qualified.  But of course, it went blank.  On a more international level, I've been following the issues of body positivity, the controversies around photoshop and what feels like the never ending debate over weight and which body type has the right to wear what.  As a female who has always been tall and will never classify as 'small' I've had a hard time dealing with images in magazines, ads of celebrities that constantly assault my line of sight.

A good friend of mine once began a career in modeling.  She had invitations to work in Toronto, Los Angeles and to travel to Japan.  After one summer, she dropped the career path in favor of school.  She said the months of poor working conditions, and photographers treating her like an object instead of a person, constantly telling her everything that was wrong with her body was too much.

Recently there's been people fighting for changes.  'Plus size' models such as Ashley Graham are making waves and bringing change.  Organizations like Modcloth and Aerie are now focusing on untouched models for the campaigns, and the results are far more powerful than anything photoshop could deliver.

“Some girls wear makeup. Some girls don’t. Some girls wear pushup bras & some just won’t. Lots of girls live in heels & others in flats. Long hair, blue hair or maybe none of that. No matter your choices, let’s be clear, You won’t find retouching on any girl here. Simply stated, we made a deal. Trends may come and go but We Will Always Be Aerie Real.” - Aerie

The facts surrounding body images and young girls is alarming.  We're raised in a world of unrealistic expectations toward our bodies from the time we are children. released an article in February 2015 with the following facts:

  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day
An article titled "Why Photoshop is More Deadly Than You Thought" presented a list of even more disturbing facts:

42% of girls in grades 1-3 want to be thinner. No 7-year-old should be self-conscious about their body.78% of 17-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. And no, that wasn’t a typo. 30% of high-school girls and 16% of high-school boys have an eating disorder. Teenage girls are reportedly “more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents, or nuclear war.” 
There are so many fantastic campaigns fighting against this, such as Dove Natural Beauty, #ImNoAngel, #LessIsMore and #LoveYourBody.  You can read about some of them here.  But a few fighting back is not enough.  While some companies recognize the harm of bombarding society with unrealistic, false images of what the perfect person is, many are non-responsive.  Projecting the image of a perfect person has become more important that protecting the health of not only our youth, but adults too.  It does not stop with women either.  These issues impact men as well.  It's not about promoting any one type of body to be better than the other.  It's about accepting that we are all different, and that differences are beautiful.  Tall or short, thin or not, it doesn't matter.  No one should be criticized or altered from the way they look if they feel healthy and comfortable in their own skin.  It's about protecting our physical and mental health.

Photoshop started to be used in 1988, with the original intent of showing gray-scale images on a monochrome display.  Then it was used for cropping shape and changing colour effects.   28 years later it is used to completely alter the way a person looks, and then project this image as reality onto society.  We think we are aware of the use of photoshop, but one study showed that 15% of 18-24 year old people believed that images of models in magazines accurately depicted what they really looked like, and at the same time expressed issues with their own bodies (Safronova, 2015).

In 2011 the American Medical Association announced that it would adopting a new policy to discourage the use of photoshop because of the connection between the use of the tool in advertising, and the development of health issues (Day, 2014).

Companies such as Aerie and American Eagle reported increases in their sales once they stopped photoshopping their images.  Should that not tell us something?

Photoshop is a wonderful tool.  It's great for getting rid of that random fly hair, making the background of an image more clear, or maybe making the sky more blue, but it shouldn't be used to completely alter people.


ABC News. (2013). Time Lapse Video Shows Model's Photoshop Transformation. YouTube. Retrieved from

Day, L. (2014).  Why Photoshopping is a Matter of Life and Death for Many Girls. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Dollin, J. (2016). 8 Images That Prove Ladies Aren’t the Only Victims of PhotoshopTakePart. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from

Fischer, E. (2015). 9 Body Positive Social Media Campaigns That Are Changing How We Perceive Beauty Both In and Outside The Fashion World. Retrieved from

Masaryk, H. (2014). When This Lingerie Brand Stopped Photoshopping Models, Sales Shot Up 9%. AdWeek. Retrieved from

Oliver, A. (2015). 4 Companies That Refuse to Photoshop—And Why That Matters For All Genders. Groundswell. Retrieved from

Safronova, N. (2015). To what extent does Photoshop affect society? Statesman. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from

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