Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Reality of Photoshop

Photo from DIY Photography
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Diseases,“47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures” and “69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.” Photoshopping images of women is a big problem in society because it sets an impossible standard for girls to try to achieve which makes them dissatisfied with their own bodies, and which can lead to serious eating disorders.

Technology has changed rapidly in the past century; now it seems like every kid has access to a smartphone. In fact, 78% of teens now have a cell phone and teen girls ages 14-17 say that they mostly go online using their cell phone (The Berkman Center for Internet & Society). Due to the increase of exposure to the media and advertisements teen girls are repeatedly seeing images of photoshopped women who are seemingly “perfect.” This idea of “perfect” women has become normal and the standard for young girls to try to live up to. In an effort to achieve that perfection, girls often resort to restricting their calories and becoming bulimic or anorexic. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the USA and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness ( National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Diseases).

My opinion, like many others, is that we should try to eliminate photoshopped images or make more realistic images of women, instead of using Photoshop to make the impossible image of a perfect woman. On March 22, 2014 a bill written by Seth Matlins was introduced to Congress; it aimed to protect “changes to shape, size, proportion, color, or the enhancement or removal of an individual feature…That crosses a line to misrepresentation and deception all in the pursuit of selling”. The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to report to Congress about how businesses promote their products using altered images of faces and bodies (The Daily Beast). Seth Matlins is not the only one trying to make a change; large companies are also starting to take notice and take action in trying to make more realistic images of women by not photoshopping them. According to American Eagle officials, their new campaign “Aerie Real” tries to promote “more realistic standards for their teen and preteen customers”. American Eagle ditched Photoshop so that all of the models' “imperfections” are showing. Jenny Altman, an American Eagle brand representative, said “we hope by embracing this that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty” (

Contrary to mine, and popular opinion, some organizations think photoshopping is a positive thing. For example, a high school in Utah photoshopped multiple girls' yearbook photos, without their consent, because it wanted the girls to appear more modest and appear to comply with their dress code. The school claimed that the girls' outfits in their yearbook photos were too inappropriate. Some showed bare shoulders, low necklines, or a tattoo. So, they allowed or encouraged the yearbook staff to photoshop the girls' photos. Several girls complained that "their pictures were altered to show less skin without their knowledge" (CNN). By photoshopping these girls' pictures, their own school was successful in depicting what they wanted: modest girls. However, the message they sent to the girls is that their bodies need to be covered up with higher necklines, added sleeves, and covered tattoos. In other words, they should not feel comfortable in their own skin. Notably, the school did not alter photographs of boys.

The media sends powerful messages to girls about the kind of bodies they should have when they photoshop models' images. Consumers also have power, though, and should speak up and stop buying products made by companies that create unrealistic images of girls and women in their advertising, and also should speak up and support companies that are committed to portraying girls and women realistically.

Conclusion (11/6/14)

Photoshopping images of women is a big problem in society because it sets an impossible standard for girls to try to achieve which makes them dissatisfied with their own bodies, and which can lead to serious eating disorders. My thesis is an important topic for digital citizenship because it teaches us to be aware of what we are exposed to on social media and what message that is sending to us. Although the comments in my blog did not change my opinion, they did help me understand my topic a bit more and helped me go more in-depth in my thinking. People were relating to what I had to say and shared their personal experience with how photoshop has effected them. Sense I posted this blog I have furthered my research by going to numerous websites so I could reply to comments using facts to support my resigning. Over all the process of blogging was enlightening, has furthered my research and has given me a clear perspective of other peoples thoughts and how they can relate to my topic. 


  1. Hi, gvp2000! This is an amazingly insightful and well-written blog post. You brought up an issue that most people are scared to think about, and you did it with tact and grace. This post really made me question the images that I see in the media - magazines, movies, television, musical albums - and made me realize that there is no reason for me to compare myself to these Photoshopped women. Thank you for sharing. In my opinion, the women without Photoshop are the women that are the most beautiful. I feel that many others share this opinion, the opinion that stronger and more real women are beautiful too, if not more so than the fake ones. So why, then, do you think that our society has created this image of a "perfect body?" Is it a marketing strategy? Will customers respond better and buy the product if they see a picture of a woman that they can envy on the label? What do you think is so attractive about this dangerously thin Victoria's Secret body if no one can look like that anyway? I would really like to know the reasons behind this. You have opened my eyes to the fact that misrepresentation of women in the media has created millions of eating disorders - and mental disorders along with that - throughout the country. This is not okay. I know from personal experience that feeling dissatisfied with the body that you have can lead to no good. It is a difficult-to-break cycle of self-consciousness, comparison to others, self-pity, and self-harm. This needs to stop worldwide, and Photoshop needs to stop instigating these illnesses. Thank you once again for your thought-provoking post. It was great.


    1. Thanks for your comment, lenoregray. In response to your question, I do think the creation of the "perfect body" was a marketing strategy. If companies use those images buyers might think their product will make them look, get, or feel like they have the "perfect body". It makes people buy their product. As for companies like Victoria's Secret, girls will strive to look like their models, which is impossible, but they will risk anorexia or bulimia to reach it, and at very least feel inadequate about their own bodies.

      Thanks again,

  2. Nice gvp2000! Your post is very thoughtful and your suggestion about not to use photoshop to enhance the body of women is very meaningful because many girls disorders begin when they compare themselves to others and imitate what they see. I agree with you that media should use less photoshop and make more realistic photos in order to make people especially teenagers, to consider themselves all beautiful. because most of the time inner beauty is more important than outside beauty. Internet users and corporations should advocate this idea by posting more articles about the reality of many photoshopping pictures( just like your post's title) as well as the harm of over controlling their own shapes. Your post really make me notice there may have many pictures that are "enhance by outsiders" in media around us. Here are some after photoshop celebrity pictures that show the corporations' tricks of making women in pictures better.

    Thank you again. gvp2000!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Olivia Wu. The pictures you included in your link, of celebrities photoshopped before and after, were great examples of how pervasive photoshopping is, and how photoshopping is used to make even celebrities (not just models selling products) seem perfect. I agree with your comment that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty, but it seems that advertisers believe outer beauty sells products and services.

      Thanks again,

  3. Hi gvp2000, your blog is very interesting and so sensitive. You have amazing writing abilities and you express your thoughts so clearly! Have you read my blog, The Dangerous Lure of Hunger's Beauty? I think you would be interested in it because your topic is also mentioned in my topic. It would be cool if I added a link on my blog so readers could learn more about Photoshop. Unfortunately, I think stores like Victoria Secret, will never change. Seventeen Magazine has made a change, they joined “The Body Peace Treaty” which only allows hem to Photoshop pimples and stray hairs. It is existing that blogs and people like you impact some of the biggest companies. Thanks, Katie.

    1. Thanks, Katie, for your thoughtful reply. That's great that Seventeen magazine has joined "The Body Peace Treaty," and I hope more companies and magazines will join, too, and photoshop only pimples and stray hair. You wrote that you think that stores like Victoria's Secret will never change. But I think that if teens and women boycott Victoria's Secret and its affiliate Pink, that maybe they will listen to us and change their advertising to stop photoshopping girls' bodies. Since they are for-profit companies, they might be financially pressured to change if they realize we girls and women will not purchase their products until they change their advertising to make it more realistic.

      Thanks again, Katie!


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