Photoshop Surgery – digitally manipulating in more ways than one.

I’ve always liked Jessica Mauboy. Not that I have kept close tabs on her career, but she appears to be a good role model for girls. She’s bright, bubbly, polite and a hard-worker; why wouldn’t you point her out to younger children?

So when I saw the headline “White Out, ‘We just don’t do it’; Women’s Weekly denies photoshopping Mauboy pictures.” in the Sydney Morning Herald, I freaked out. I immediately clicked the link. When the page loaded, I saw it wasn’t Photoshopped at all.

Well, not in the way they had implied.

Jessica's Mauboy's picture from The Australian Women's Weekly.

Photograph as supplied to Sydney Morning Herald

Someone claimed that Women’s Weekly had lightened Mauboy’s skin for the purpose of making her appear caucasian. If they had actually done that I’d have been very upset, but they hadn’t, thankfully. It’s not something a good role model needs and most certainly not what young boys and girls need either.

Now I am not saying photographer Alana Landsberry didn’t adjust the colours or the contrast to enhance the image, but she has done such a good job during the photo-shoot that I doubt she has had to manipulate her model much, if at all. I actually give her a big pat on the back, it’s a really good photo!

But in other cases, why are models even Photoshopped at all?

I am totally for small touch-ups, don’t get me wrong: erasing pimples, red-eyes from a flash, fly-away hairs, contrast, ambiance and so on. Those little things are okay. But why are we giving people virtual cosmetic surgery?

If you don’t think it is as bad as people make out, check out this blog entry by Messy Nessy Chic. They have put together a great article demonstrating how far a simple photograph can be taken. We aren’t putting Vaseline on the lens anymore; we are actually changing the shape of people. Whilst Messy Nessy only covers women, I can assure you that male celebrities and models would go through the same process.

The thing is though; would you buy a magazine with a non-air-brushed model on the cover, lacking that majestic Hollywood glow? Do we have to purposefully place more “plus size” models in front of the camera to reverse the damage, despite the world having naturally slim people?

Even though magazines relied on achieving ‘perfection’ through make-up and darkroom processes in the past, going further and changing peoples bodies digitally to reach this is too much pressure for people. No-one can reach perfection. Whilst Photoshop is an amazing tool, we need to stop using it for evil and be responsible for what we are doing. If an eating disorder can get its claws into the person on the magazine cover, what hope do the people looking at the cover have?

In my opinion, I have no problem with keeping the professional makeup and styled hair, and enhancing the photograph as a whole. I also support the industry being much more inclusive in their range of models. But the digital surgery? Forget it.

Do you like the look achieved by digital manipulation or do you want to see less of it? Do you even want to see less makeup and styling on our magazine covers than professional hair and makeup? Share your thoughts!


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Filed under Buttons & Screens, Mind, Body and Soul, Ruby Views

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