Photoshop: Modifying and Editing Reality


Though photoshopping—or technologically altering photos to look “appealing to all”—may not be considered art to some, I see it as an art form that American society is sickeningly addicted to.  This idea has been going on for far too long in all cultures, but most noticeably in American ones.

Beauty magazines are the main instigators of this addiction, though nearly all professional photographers participate.  It can be innocent enough in the sense of using it to smooth a wrinkle out of clothes are hide an unsightly background item.  However, magazines use it to make models appear thinner and have “perfect” skin.  Everyone who has ever even passed a magazine on a shelf in the store is aware of the sneaky tricks these photographers do in order to ensure perfection for the already gorgeous women or men in the photos.  The detriments to society include believing that the looks on the front of glossy magazines are both easy and attainable, and sending young impressionable teens into either deep depression or lethal eating habits.

Some magazines have tried to right their wrongs in a sense by launching stories about girls with eating disorders in order to shed light on the negative side effects.  However, all too often, on the very same cover of the magazine, they say they have the best tips to losing weight.  This gives readers a confused impression of what to do and what the magazine is trying to convey.  Some magazines have gone as far as saying that they will no longer use image altering technology to change a model’s body shape.  What they are not saying is really the key in this case; they will still use the technology on the skin and hair of the model.  This is a step in the right direction, but only a baby sized one.

Both articles I chose explain and exploit the negative effects and how magazines are trying to retrace their steps and find where they went wrong.  They also utilize the fact that it is not only beauty magazines that use this technology but also advertisements for clothing.  The second one focuses more on fixing the problem than the first does, but they both have the same general tone and content.

Personally, I think that the use of photo editing material has gone way past what it was originally intended for.  It is fine in small, appropriate doses, but not for indirectly body-shaming all people who do not have the same look as the cover of a magazine.  I understand some things need to be touched up sometimes—like a wrinkle or the occasional stray hair—but not to the extent to which the fashion industry has taken it.  The best photographers should be able to take photos without thinking what could be fixed in the editing portion of the process; they should be able to take pictures and accept the “flaws” they have.

People may or may not include photo alteration in their definition of art, but when it has this large of an impact on the society we live in, how could it not be considered?

Side note: I also found this video with a similar yet slightly different perspective:


One comment

  1. elfinsbl21 · May 3, 2015

    I think your choice is really timely. We all know that magazines photoshop their images, but the extent that they now do it is kind of frightening. Nice job!


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