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Monday, March 28, 2011

Talking Retouching II

My last blog about beauty and post-work, Let's Talk Retouching, turned out to be so popular I thought it was time for round two. 

It’s no secret that most of the images we see today in magazines, online, on tv and in brand advertisements are photoshopped. (ask anyone who knows me - I'm always spouting off about it! lol) Fashion magazines claim that readers are not being deceived by their photoshopped pages, because the public has been made aware of the use of image retouching via the media. But is that what's at the forefront of your mind as you page through magazines and walk past billboards? And what about our children? What is the new generation taking away from this media onslaught of digital perfection that they are being exposed to every day?
“I don’t think women and girls know the extent to which photos are retouched. I don’t. And even if they do know, I’m not sure it penetrates.
Nutritionist, Alexis Best
If you have 6 minutes to spare, I highly recommend you watch this next video! 
Every woman and young girl should see this.

 Check out this short but powerful video from the Dove Self Esteem campaign.

How many of you caught Madonna's ad campaign for Dolce and Gabbana in the spring of 2010? The photos were everywhere. (I saw them in Italian Vogue) They stirred up quite the controversy when unretouched images from the photoshoot were leaked. Take a look at a few before and afters:

Amazing what smooth and perfect skin a woman of 52 has, isn't it!? NOT. In fact,  it is quite impossible for a woman of 52 to ever look as good as these retouched photos show. She looks like she's in her 20s! There is not a plastic surgeon in the world who could turn back the hands of time like that. Lets take a look at a few more:

Here's another image from the final, edited and retouched ad campaign. Wow.

Found this shot of Madonna posing in her infamous bunny ears for an ad campaign for luxury brand Louis Vuitton. 
And to the right, the final retouched image they used in the ads.

I can't help but feel that here's a woman who could be a prominent representative for mature women and Real Beauty. But instead she is promoting an image for her age that is quite clearly extremely deceptive. Now, I'm no fan of Britney Spears, but I was thrilled when she helped raise awareness of this topic by releasing side-by-side photographs of her before and after retouching for a Candies ad campaign.

Let's take a minute to talk about Kelly Clerkson - who saw that September issue of Self magazine? 
The songbird graced the cover of Self's "total body confidence issue."

Now here's some candid photos of Kelly taken at one of her performances, during that same time period that she posed for the Self magazine cover:

Self magazine admits it did airbrush the singer, but they are also saying it was no more than they do for every other cover model. (uh-huh) The editor-in-chief argued, "Our picture shows her confidence and beauty." Some are saying that it seems like Self magazine doesn't have the confidence to show the singer's real body - booty and all. Many readers have expressed disappointment and outrage over the digitally slimmed Clarkson.One person who doesn't have a problem with her weight is Kelly Clarkson herself. She tells the magazine: "When people talk about my weight, I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem with it; I don't...I'm fine!' I'm never trying to lose weight – or gain it. I'm just being!" Good for you Kelly.

In September of 2009, Glamour Magazine released an unretouched photo of 20 year old plus-size model Lizzie Miller. (she's 5'11" and a size 12, btw) The photograph accompanied an article about body confidence. The image shows a beautiful, creamy-skinned, naked model . . . with a small roll of stomach fat.

It's a photo that measures all of three by three inches," said Cindi Leive, editor of US Glamour in a post on the magazine's blog, "but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit news stands." She says that the overwhelming reaction to the tiny photo, buried on page 194 "shows that the world is hungry to see pictures of normal women." The model herself says, "pretty much every picture in a magazine or ad is airbrushed . . . I don't think the public understands how much smoke and mirrors are involved in making women look like that."

The French are trying to make the public more aware.  French parliamentarians concerned by eating disorders and body image want a warning slapped on ads and fashion photos that are digitally enhanced to make models more appealing. Parliamentarian Valerie Boyer and some 50 other legislators, have proposed a law aimed at fighting touched up images that distort reality. "Such images can lead people to believe in a reality that often does not exist," Boyer said in an explanatory statement. The proposed legislation calls for photographs of people "whose body image has been digitally manipulated to be accompanied by a statement saying 'digitally enhanced to modify a person's body image.'" I personally really wish the United States would get on board with some of that kind of thinking.

Let's look at a few more examples:
Naomi Watts
Jennifer Aniston, who will be 42 this year.
Julia Stiles
Avril Lavigne

 Mena Suvari

 Real Housewives' Bethenny Frankel

Check out these images of super model Mischa Barton.
The first image was a candid taken before the shoot. The second, obviously, is after hair and make up.

And a couple other tidbits I found in my on-line travels . . . .  

And we women aren't the only ones who are getting digital touch up work done these days!

Do you feel your eyes have been opened yet? I hope so! I'm going to leave with you something really funny I found while surfing before and after photos for this blog. Speaking as someone who grew up playing with Barbie and her fashion-tastic glittering world, I was always criticizing myself in the mirror for not being more . . . well . .  Barbie-like. lol It wasn't until years later that I began to understand no human woman could ever come close to matching Barbie's perfect plastic physique. Barbie was launched on March 9th, 1959. If Barbie was a real person, and we consider that her birthday, then she would have just turned 52. Here's an image that someone photo-shopped to show how she might look today at age 52 after all her glamorous living. (and menopause) HA!


  1. This is a fantastic post. As a female makeup artist, I sometimes find myself not only questioning my own physical appearance whilst gazing at dramatically retouched images; But I find myself questioning my skills as an artist. Makeup can only do so much. It can't fix texture (like scars, cellulite, and wrinkles). But furthermore I am seeing more and more retouched images adding makeup (see Naomi Watts and Julia Styles above for clear examples).
    I really enjoy the results of retouching. But I feel like the general public really deserves to understand the extent it can be taken too. And I think magazines need to remember that 50 is still sexy, as is 40, and 30, crows feet slacking skin and all.

  2. Wow, amazing to see what we think beauty is and how those we look to for inspiration are just as flawed as we are. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. I love this article! Thanks Ivy, I am in the middle of reading the Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. I think every woman should read it!

  4. I am showing this to my 15 year old daughter right now! thank you!


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