Jun 24, 2008

Deception of Perfection - The Photoshop Effect Part 2

Did you know that 99.9% of images you see in the magazines have been altered in one way or another? Whether it’s the erasing of a blemish or the whittling down of the waist, most pictures are not published in their original state. If we are never exposed to the imperfections of models and celebrities how can they possibly serve as healthy responsible role models?

We blamed Britney Spears for corrupting teenage girls when she danced around in a schoolgirl uniform, but should we have blamed the photo editors for retouching the pictures of an already beautiful teenager? I, for one, looked at pictures of Brit Brit in magazines in high school and only wished my abs could look as toned as hers. Did I diet and exercise to get similar results? To be honest I don’t remember, but I did compare myself and I did in fact do some of her workout moves I saw on E! or Extra.

The truth about retouching photos is that no one knows when they are seeing a real picture or a digitally altered representation. America is not seeing an epidemic of eating disorders, but rather we are in the middle of an “obesity epidemic” (oh how I hate that term, but for a lack of better words and to get my point across).

The altered images go from the pages of a magazine to the new standard for perfection. Don’t we all want to be perfect? Well, most of us will never achieve perfection but we can strive for it! Some of us will diet for a week, maybe a month or two. Few will go to extremes and develop actual eating disorders and many will fail to even shed a pound resulting in the polar opposite. Trying to reach that target weight that is not possible with healthy means can result in frustration, self-loath, and extreme-dieting techniques that lead to binging and the net result is weight gain.

To prevent this deceit, I propose that we add a disclaimer to all retouched images in all magazines letting the reader know that the image has been altered and is not what the person would look like in person.

“According to a study in the latest issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the risk of developing eating disorders was reduced 61% among Body Project participants. And they continued to exhibit positive body-image attitudes as long as three years after completing the program, which consists of four one-hour sessions. Such lasting effects may be due to girls' realizing not only how they were being influenced but also who was benefiting from the societal pressure to be thin. "These people who promote the perfect body really don't care about you at all," says Kelsey Hertel, a high school junior and Body Project veteran in Eugene, Ore. "They purposefully make you feel like less of a person so you'll buy their stuff and they'll make money." Time.com

This sort of thing is now being called “body activism.” I guess that makes me a body activist? If you agree with my proposal check out our YouTube Video for a few samples of what the warning may look like. Also, add your comments and ideas for what’s next. Where should we take my new regulation idea?

Here is another article from March that suggests magazines in the UK may be one step ahead of the US. The Brits want magazine editor to implement guidelines on the amount of retouch that is allowed suggesting that they are acting irresponsibly and supporting a size-zero culture.

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