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How many images do you think you’ve looked at so far today and without realizing the connection, felt less inclined to eat that lovely sandwich your stomach has been groaning for all morning?

For every perfectly smooth-skinned celebrity you’ve seen in the latest beauty campaigns, are you edging closer towards buying an anti-wrinkle cream that you’re probably ten years too young to be buying, or worse, thinking of paying someone to jab you in the forehead with a needle?

Since my early teens, I have paid very close attention to the fashion world and all the images it produces. I have also, as a very impressionable young lady in the past, not dieted, but starved myself, punished my body with exercise until I’ve fainted and daydreamed endlessly about enhancing my body with plastic surgery.

(Weight loss fads such as the ‘cabbage soup diet’ or the maple syrup ‘master cleanse’ are not diets, they are ways to starve your body).

I would bet my bottom dollar that pretty much every girl you know has had similar experiences to the ones I did, if not, ones dramatically worse.

p.s. I’m pleased to report that these days I’m pretty damn content in my own skin, I’m no coward when it comes to cupcakes and if I have a ‘fat day’ (everyone has them), I simply take my caboose for a run.

Okay, so it’s no secret that most of the images we see today in magazines, online, in brand advertisements, even on our social networks are indeed, photoshopped– heavily.

Fashion magazines, perhaps the biggest culprits, have hit back at critics in recent years claiming that readers are not being deceived by their photoshopped pages because the general public has actually been made aware of the use of image retouching in the media environment.

But is this awareness really at the forefront of our minds as we flick through magazines and walk past billboards, subconsciously registering an image of the ideal?

“I don’t think women and girls know the extent to which photos are retouched. I don’t. And even if they do know, I’m not sure it penetrates.”

Nutritionist, Alexis Best

Above, a Ralph Lauren Black label campaign, featuring model, Valentina Zelyaeva. Both pictures were published, one on the brand’s website (left) and the other for the printed advertisements in Australia (right).

Ralph Lauren is notorious in the fashion industry for being trigger happy when it comes to retouching their models.

Model Filippa Hamilton, pictured below, is a healthy American size 4, at 120lb (that is before the Ralph Lauren re-touchers got their hands on her). She was fired from Ralph Lauren in 2008.

“They fired me because they said I was overweight and I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore,” she said. “I was shocked to see that super skinny girl with my face. It’s very sad, I think, that Ralph Lauren could do something like that.”

Polo Ralph Lauren made a public apology for the controversial campaign but claimed it had nothing to do with the end of the Filippa’s contract, and instead was a “result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us.”

Photo-retouching also happens to be a very costly part of editing, that is if you want your models to resemble stick insects.

(Below left, what Filippa really looks like, and right, retouched with drastically smaller hips and waist).

Do you think it’s time for Madonna to call it a day? While she is a prominent representative for mature women, she is also promoting an image for her age that is quite clearly, deceptive.

Plastic surgeons must thank God everyday for the continuous presence of her retouched photographs.

Britney Spears helped raise awareness of this topic by releasing side-by-side photographs of her before and after retouching for a Candies ad campaign.

Don’t forget, it’s not just women looking at these pictures, men are also looking at perfectly pert bottoms and gravity-defying breasts on a daily basis– thanks FHM.

Eva Longoria’s boyish shape is given a butt job, a boob job and a curvier waist.

Plus-sized model Crystal Renn was shocked when she saw how drastically her photographs were altered, bringing her into a whole new category of size zero models.

Kiera Knightley goes from an A cup to a C to D cup. Wow those medieval bras must have been better than the modern day Wonderbra.

Demi Moore gets some kind of peculiar hip replacement in the midst of W Magazine’s Photoshop efforts.

Penelope Cruz has her ribcage removed, her mediterranean skin lightened and smoothed.

We’re moving into a whole new realm of issues here with obvious skin-lightening photoshop techniques used on Gabourey Sidibe in U.S Elle and on Beyonce who appears to have two disastrously different skin tones in these Russian publications.

Faith Hill, a woman in her forties, now miraculously looks like she’s in her early twenties.

So what should we do?

Rally for a worldwide ban of photoshop?

I don’t know about you, but until Madonna hangs up her spandex leotard, I’d rather photoshop saves me from having to look at the veins popping out of her arms (probably as a result of the 12 hour daily workouts).

Photoshop is most likely here to stay.

But what I do think is a very good idea is implementing some kind of requirement of the media to warn the public of deceiving images so that we may begin to re-program our minds to realize exactly what we are looking at– an illusion.

Perhaps magazine editors won’t go for the third example above, but you get the idea 😉

I highly recommend watching these short clips on the secrets and the controversy of photo retouching in the media… pretty interesting.




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