I remember being in a dark room, excited to make it through the various steps it took to watch the photos on my camera come to life. I’d taken so many photos using my first film camera. It was so different than the digital experience. There was a level of anticipation as the image revealed itself in the chemical-drenched water. It felt very artistic; very raw. But that doesn’t necessarily make digital photography any less impressive or beautiful—just different.
When I was introduced to Photoshop, there was another level of excitement. Distorting images is its own type of art. But many would argue that we’ve taken this to an unhealthy level. It’s become all too accessible to trick others into believing we, others, and things, look like something they simply aren’t, and should look like what we change them to.
In 2011, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced it was taking a stand against image manipulation in advertising. Body image expectations, eating disorders, and other emotional problems were discussed as potential risks for alterations made through processes like Photoshop.
Since then, many celebrities have taken a stand against being digitally altered, with some refusing to photograph for anything other than the real deal. Kate Winslet became a pioneer for such refusals, handing out empowerment to anyone and everyone about standing up for what you believe in.
“I can only ever speak for myself and I can only ever do things that are important to me,” Winslet said. “It’s a hope that other people might follow suit but it does feel important to me because I do think we have a responsibility to the younger generation of women.”
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar in 2009, Kate discussed aging, saying: “I have wrinkles here, which are very evident. And I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, ‘You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please can you change it back?’ I’d rather be the woman they’re saying ‘She’s looking older’ about than ‘She’s looking stoned.'”
And that was years ago. Now, in 2016, we can celebrate the many accomplishments companies and people have made to banish unrealistic standards of beauty. On the other hand, the issue is still very much around.
The following ‘before and after’ images of photoshopped celebrities show that, despite how much awareness has been raised, there are still plenty of heavily photoshopped images that work against promoting and celebrating beauty in its natural forms.
These are images that tell us perfection comes in the form of cellulite-free thighs, flawless skin, huge busts, and tiny waists.
Have you ever found yourself skimming the pages of a magazine and envying the frame and features of a model? It’s enough to make you want to erase yourself and start over. But you can’t, because you are human, and humans are beautifully flawed.
“Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19-year-old hips and torso quite manipulated,” actress Zendaya said on Instagram. “These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have.”
Maybe if more people knew how models and celebrities looked before their images were retouched, they’d appreciate their own flaws and their own beauty with an unwavering desire to never compare themselves to anyone else ever again.
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