Photoshopping or Photochopping? What Our Obsession with Perfection is Telling Adolescents


Britney Spears infographic by Daily Mail Reporter for Mail Online

I was flipping through a fashion magazine the other day while waiting in my doctor’s office when I came across a spread featuring a middle-aged actress. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the photographs. This forty-something actress looked amazing- and much younger than me. “How does she do it?” I asked myself, “It’s almost unreal.” And then it hit me: it was unreal. Duh. Photoshop. In a culture that is obsessed with looking younger and thinner all the time, it’s no surprise to find excessive use of Photoshop in advertising and fashion. Heck, I even use it in my personal photos of friends and family. I can’t calculate the number of times I’ve been told to remove a zit or a bruise in a picture before they get posted on Facebook or printed.

Using Photoshop or other editing software to erase our imperfections seems like a natural thing to do in this technology driven age, but where do we draw the line? If it’s okay to fix a slight imperfection, is it also okay to create our dream body? According to the American Medical Association (AMA) it’s not okay. The AMA website, states that on June 21, 2011 they “adopted new policy to encourage advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.”

Photo left: Supplied by F. Hamilton; Photo right: Ralf Lauren

Filippa Hamilton – whose hips appeared slimmer than her head in the recent altered ad by Ralf Lauren told the Daily News her contract was terminated because she was too heavy. “They fired me because they said I was overweight and I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore,” she said.

Although there are laws in the United State against false advertising, there isn’t any recourse for Photoshopping a model beyond recognition. However, in Britain, they treat digital manipulation as false advertising and even went to far as to ban a L’Oreal ad featuring Julia Roberts. CNN recently reported, “Britain’s Advertising Standards Agency issued the ban after politician Jo Swinson complained about the two ads.”


(left) Julia Roberts unretouched, AP Photo; (right) L’Oreal advertisement


Touching up your photos after you’ve taken them is about to be old news. Panasonic just introduced their Lumix DMC-FP7 a camera that can whiten teeth, erase wrinkles, and add makeup at the touch of a button. For me, the jury is still out on whether or not this is a good idea. The examples from kind of creep me out.

Heather, before and after using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP7. Photos: Tobey Grumet for StyleList


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