Has Photoshopping Gone Too Far?

May 24, 2015

Impossibly perfect images of the human form are ubiquitous in the American media. And it’s common knowledge that celebrities are armed with nutritionists, personal trainers–and yes, Photoshop specialists–to project those flawless magazine covers, flirtatious Instagram snapshots, and sizzling-hot billboards. As Photographer and Retoucher Tim Lynch explains in this diet.com video, “[Photoshop] literally changed my entire industry. Every picture that gets put through like a Meg Ryan or a Nicole Kidman, they have on staff, if you will, or a freelancer, and they pay them very well to retouch every image that is released of them…They don’t want to release anything that isn’t retouched.”

In our capitalist society, it’s clear that magazines, films, along with just about any product or service sells better when represented by these flawless, photo-doctored images. Indeed, the public can’t seem to get enough, and basically throws its hard-earned dollars in response to these celebrity facades. But many believe the world is looking a lot less real with these “softened” images, that they make the celebrity harder to relate to, as well as heap increasing and harmful pressure especially on girls and women to appear a certain way.

As a result, here are some bold and brave actors who have at least called out some of their adjusted images as fakes, if not deliberately exposed some of their own flaws.

Kate Winslet has proven to be a role model for positive body image. Years ago, a retouched photo of her on GQ triggered a statement, “The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly, I don’t desire to look like that.” She continued, “I can tell you they’ve reduced the size of my legs by about a third.”

Keira Knightley’s chest was drastically altered, or should we say enhanced, while portraying Guinevere in a King Arthur poster. Knightley chimed in with a statement: Those things certainly weren’t mine. Although she okayed the use of the poster, she has since made clear to producers that she refuses to be altered to any degree for promotional advertisements.

Brad Pitt will not allow altered images of himself, and indeed chose to reveal his wrinkles and pores for the cover of W magazine. “You can’t be the fair-haired young boy forever. Maybe a photograph of him with his crow’s feet and furrowed brow is good for him,” said the photographer, Chuck Close, who is famous for emphasizing the humanity of his subjects.

Troian Bellisario and Ashley Benson from Pretty Little Liars took a stand against a poster advertising the show. Benson posted the ad on Instagram, saying, “Saw this floating around….hope it’s not the poster. Our faces in this were from 4 years ago….and we all look ridiculous. Way too much Photoshop. We all have flaws. No one looks like this. It’s not attractive.” Bellisario likewise posted the image to her Instagram account asserting, “Wow @itsashbenzo I couldn’t agree more. Very cool concept as always. But aren’t we attractive enough as we are? Why can’t we just look like us. Once.”

What are your thoughts about Photoshop? Knowing the ruthless social climate that can ensue when revealing your imperfections, just how willing are you to reveal yourself and defend the right to have flaws?