The Hot Topic of Photo Retouching

Magazines and advertisers who are retouching photos of their models to such a degree that they don’t look natural is a hot topic in the media right now and I’m really pleased to see that people are finally taking notice of the ridiculously unobtainable standards that these businesses are setting.

A year ago, several of the L’Oreal company’s brands had advertisements banned in the UK for retouching photos beyond an ‘acceptable level’.  Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts appear in two of these ads, and the question is why the Lancome and Maybelline executives found it necessary to photoshop these already beautiful women to create images that are completely unrealistic.  We are left to hope we can be this flawless if we purchase their products, which is quite impossible.

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Perhaps it is the blatant faults in photo enhancement, such as models missing fingers and heads and other rather obvious body parts that has really forced this topic to the forefront (just google photoshop mistakes and you’ll get over a million hits). Whatever the reason for its making headlines, I think it’s a good thing that it is continuously brought to the attention of the public – particularly for the women who are trying desperately to live up to these  ideals.

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This month, Eva Longoria appeared on the cover of Italian Amica magazine looking more like her Desperate Housewives co-star Terry Hatcher than herself!  You have to wonder what the editor was thinking letting this cover go to press with such an (apparently) well known face on the cover.  She’s far more beautiful in her actual photo (left), yet she didn’t escape the editing process.

I know a lot of women who have struggled for part of their lives – sometimes the better portion of their lives – with body image.  It’s not surprising when you consider the unrealistic images we are confronted with on a daily basis in magazines, online and in advertising.  Madonna is in her 50’s.  She’s supposed to have a few lines around her face. Don’t we expect that after the life she – of all people – has lived?!

How us women got to the point of trying to attain perfection, I’m not sure, but airbrushing and photo enhancement have been around since the late 1800’s – back in the day when women were forcing their bodies into corsets and girdles to create the perfect silhouette – and have almost certainly helped push us into trying to achieve these ideals.

 

Audrey Hepburn airbrushed

 

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Above is a promotional photograph of Audrey Hepburn for Breakfast at Tiffany’s from the 1960’s and it’s recently released marked version showing where the editor thought Audrey needed a little added beauty.  I’m amazed this editing was considered and put into action on a star who, in my mind, was quite gorgeous enough in the original photo!

But there has been some backlash and several celebrities, such as Cate Blanchett, have been making a point against all of this retouching.  Take a look at Cate’s untouched photo on the cover of Intelligent Life.  She is an undeniably beautiful women who has made a name for herself partly because of her beauty.  It’s so nice to see a representation of her at 42 years of age looking natural and, well, 42!

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A fourteen year old girl, Julia Bluhm, from Maine in the US recently caught the attention of the media as she organised a protest at the entrance to Seventeen Magazine in New York to state her objection to their use of photographs that are airbrushed.  Her protest was in support of the idea that these images may result in low-self esteem issues amongst her peers.  She’s on the right track, but we need more people – adults and teens – to make it known that we want to see true representations of models in the magazines we read and in the ads we are exposed to.

It would be great if more celebrities stood up and, like Cate Blanchett, insisted on photo shoots without heavy editing. But it is truly up to magazine editors and advertisers to change the way they think and the way they represent models and celebrities, which lead the general population towards aspirations of impossible beauty.

What do you think about the photoshopping controversy?

3 thoughts on “The Hot Topic of Photo Retouching

  1. I’m hoping more famous women will jump on Cate Blanchett’s bandwagon, sadly, the media truly is the catalyst for some serious low self-esteem in our culture by indoctrinating false ideas of beauty. Great post!

    • Thanks, very much! I’m really impressed with the reaction Julia Bluhm received from Seventeen Magazine recently. Sounds like they are promising to show a wide range of unedited body shapes in their magazine in future after her 80,000 signature petition prompted them for a response. It’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?

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