Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Airbrushing - should it be banned?

My Functional Skills students are coming up with ideas to present and discuss for Speaking and Listening. One idea I keep putting forward - for the beauty students in particular to discuss - is the idea of airbrushing and photoshop. After reading this post over at The Styling Dutchman, I decided to write a blog post about the issue.

For a long time, I thought celebrities were naturally stunning, and photographers used fancy lighting and make-up to have them looking their best. I didn't consider this to be 'cheating' - the camera captured what was actually visable to the photographer. However, with the growth of technology, photoshopping, or using other photo editing software to enhance photos is becoming almost commonplace. Obviously the reasons are clear - celebrities sell items. The better looking the celebrity, the more we want the item, because the more we want to be like the celebrity.

There isn't really anyone to blame for this phenomena. Individuals in charge or marketing are paid to sell items in the more effective way possible. The problem with this tactic is that we can't pretend people aren't influenced by these images. Look at the image above. Britney Spears has a perfectly fine body in the image, yet this body has been changed to appear more slender and with more even skin in the second. The image most young women are going to see, and perhaps aspire to, is no longer a representation of a real person. They have also added more makeup to define the eyes and adjusted the shine on Britney's face so it appears thinner.

If I were a celebrity I would feel saddened that someone had manipulated my image. It's a judgement on your figure, or skin, or general looks. God forbid the public were to see a photograph of Harry Styles looking like a normal teenage boy.

The good news is that these photos are accessiable on the internet. It is possible to see that these images are a misrepresentation of the true article. Perhaps, by viewing these we can relax a little in the knowledge that even our favourite celebrities can't achieve the perfection we are used to seeing. Even they fall short of society's standards and have to be changed. Would it not be easier for us all to lower our expectations and appreciate that we are all human. 99% of us attempt to change the way we look, even just by brushing our hair, before walking out of our front door because we all wake up looking less than perfect.

I know this is completely idealistic. Harry Styles makes his money from his adoring fans finding him physically attractive and the more teenage girls he can enslave, the more secure his popularity. I understand this, and I accept it. But I will continue to cheer myself up by googling 'celebrities before and after photoshop' every once in a while.

How do you feel about photograph manipulation?


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