Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fighting the Photoshop Battle

I recently saw this post on Upworthy about a picture that Lorde found of one of her latest performances that was obviously edited to adjust the appearance of her skin. The singer then tweeted the photoshopped image alongside an un-edited picture from the same day to show what she really looked like on stage.

I'm a huge fan of photoshop as a creative medium; it's a fantastic way to put together digital designs or edit the lighting or focus of a photo. But so frequently the media abuses this awesome tool to alter the appearance of women to promote a physically unattainable standard. It's one thing to adjust the lighting or focus of a photograph, but quite another to completely change the appearance of the person in question. Though I love fashion magazines, they are often the culprit behind these nipped waists and smoothed skin-tones, and I find myself constantly upset by many of the images they publish. At what point did we begin to think it makes sense to make already beautiful people look more like this "beauty ideal"? Comedian and Girl Code contributor Jessimae Peluso put it well when she pointed out that these celebrities and models don't even look like the final image! Oftentimes, in the worst of photoshop errors, they fail to look even human in the final, edited photograph.

Lorde's tweet, though short and sweet, is something that I find to be really impressive, especially because so many obvious photoshop errors are made every day in magazines and across the web that go unmentioned (her small act of defiance even prompted the creation of an inspiring, accepting playlist). Body image among adolescent girls has become so insanely distorted in large part as a result of this false portrayal of the female body in the media. Even something as small as Lorde's recognition of editing done to her un-even skin tone can make the difference in how young women view their own bodies.

What we need now in order to counteract this effect of altering the portrayal of women's bodies in the media is this influence (no matter if it's through major statements or minor tweets) of people in this spotlight, the very women whose bodies are being changed before they are shown to the world. Women like Lorde and Adele, Lena Dunham and Zooey Deschanel are making such a difference by pointing out failures in the presentation of women in the media. With encouraging words and brave actions, women like these, the very victims of these crazy photoshop incidents, are helping to bring to light the effects of such digital alterations. We need to listen to these voices and encourage the contribution of others, because it's true, the girl in the magazine doesn't look like the girl in the magazine and what's more important is that you should look like you, not anyone else.

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