The Photoshop Issue

The above image is one the majority of us have probably seen before. It speaks volumes about just how much Photoshop can be used to manipulate an image so that it no longer resembles the original. This image is a really good example of using Photoshop in the fashion/modelling industry, but I’ve seen Photoshop go even further. In the past when I’ve looked into this issue I stumbled across a video on YouTube that shows how Photoshop can be used to manipulate a picture of a woman into a slice of pizza, and then back again. Another good video is the Dove ‘real beauty campaign’. This shows just how much makeup and hair styling go into preparing a model for a photoshoot, so that she looks like an entirely different person, and is then photoshopped as well – so the result is a completely unrealistic image. I have also found a male version of this video as well. It is not made by Dove, as their campaign stops at women, but by a guy called Colby Jarvis who wanted to show that the issue affects men as well. He explains all of this at the beginning of the video, and shows an example of how a male model is photoshopped to look completely different – in the same way Dove’s video does.

Unfortunately, there are no rules against using Photoshop in advertising. The majority of the time we don’t even notice, or register that the vast majority of the adverts we look at are not realistic representations of the models used. It has a negative impact on the young generations, as Jean Kilbourne explains in her TED talk. The use of models, or rather imagery that implies young, thin and beautiful people puts pressure on young people who feel this is how society expects them to look. Jean goes into more detail, explaining how teenage girls are taught quite early that they are not good enough and the effects this can have (depression, eating disorders etc.). Even now that I am coming out of my teens, I still feel the need to try to meet these standards. I am a member of what is probably the first generation to experience the Photoshop issue, and I think I will spend decades trying to meet these standards – whether I am aware I am doing so or not. Without thinking about it, I was unaware of how much the Photoshop issue influenced (and still does influence) my generation. I honestly can’t remember a time my friends and I haven’t had issues with our bodies, whatever they may be, and I honestly can’t envision a time when we will not.

When the Photoshop issue is raised, we all instantly think of women – how it objectifies and degrades them, showing them as submissive and ideally stick thin. However, we forget that the issue impacts men as well. Colby’s video is a good starting point when looking into the male Photoshop issue, but it’s quite tame compared to what is actually out there in the world – selling everything from aftershave to boxers and jeans to razors. The Try Guys on YouTube posted a video last year that follows them as they try to recreate photos of men whose bodies they strive to have. This involved a photoshoot and then Photoshop. I apologise as it does contain quite a lot of bad language, but I actually found it quite poignant in that in some way or another all of the men realised they wouldn’t be happy if they did achieve the bodies of their idols.

The same will apply to women, but neither gender is likely to realise this as the advertising industry churns out more and more unrealistic images of what the ‘ideal’ body is. The major problem being that what society deems as the ‘ideal’ body is constantly changing, so we’ll never be able to keep up.

Image belongs to Models.com V-Magazine

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