Real beauty 2.0

Demi Moore Cover Comparison

Subtle changes by graphic artists can send a dangerous message to young girls about the definition of "real beauty." Click on this image to see different versions and how they were manipulated. Image by ChadScott via Flickr

I’m thinking as I peruse my electronic copy of a national photography magazine about some imaging software being advertised in the magazine, that while this software sure is technologically advanced, it is very dangerous in light of the kinds of messages that these photographs can send to our daughters.

Take for instance the photo of the girl who’s probably 10-12 years old in this particular advertisement in the photography magazine. The photo shows two different images of her face: one with freckles on it and the other that looks like she’s been air brushed to appear in a top modeling magazine. Personally, I think the freckes add character to her portrait, but with this software, you can eliminate them and add tones to her face that makes her look older and even includes the appearance of makeup.

Dove has a website called Campaign for Real Beauty that is trying to make people aware of the dangerous message that digital imaging (photo shopping) sends to young girls who, in their own mirrors, can in no way compare to the pixel-shaping technologies that are out there today. The egregious acts don’t need to be as noticeable as the Demi Moore cover photo that obviously changed the shape a portion of her hip, but neglected to reshape the rest of her mid-section; all the pixel wizards need to do is remove skin blemishes, change the tone of the make up, elongate the neck, shave some fat, change the shape and placement of facial features such as the eyes, nose and lips and presto! Dream girl is born and she looks nothing like real girl.

Computer imagery and technology is amazing (and dangerous at the same time) because it allows people to play God, and in the process totally wreak havoc on the self esteme of an entire generation of young women who’s own God did not create them that way. It takes the idea and the slogan of “air-brushing” to a whole different level.

Don’t get me wrong: I like what my photography post-production software can do. I like being able to color correct and sharpen my landscape and photojournalism images. I like the ability to lighten and darken specific areas and even eliminate dust spots and other minor blemishes in my images left behind by my camera’s digital image sensor. I’m not a “purist” in the sense that I go out, shoot a picture, and then print it just as the camera saw it. Even Ansel Adams dodged and burned areas of his landscapes to make them look better!

Then again, I’m not taking photos of teenage girls and then through the magic of digital photo manipulation, completely changing the shape of their face and the rest of their bodies to make them look like something they’re not in order to sell something.

I love what technology has allowed photographers to capture without the mess and expense of the darkroom. But, with all the positive that’s been borne from digital photography, we’ve made it easier to not simply alter images, but alter a state of mind and underlying message within the minds of our daughters that tells them that the only way they can be pretty is through artistic photo manipulation — something they’ll never achieve through the mirror or through the dangerous practice of forced dieting and eating disorders that these images suggest.


One thought on “Real beauty 2.0

  1. This new craze of retouching is definitly sending a horrible message I could remember looking at all the magazine when I was in JHS and HS and always though these women look incredible. the beauty of living in NYC you get to see some celebrities looking average without their glam squad. Some celebrities are naturally beautiful.

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