Deception and Disguise

Posted: May 3, 2011 in Photoshop

In almost every advertisement pertaining to a female, her image is tweaked, airbrushed, and cropped. Minimizing her waist, enlarging her features, raising her eyebrows, pronouncing her cheek bones, and airbrushing her skin are one of many examples of how a woman’s image can be altered. Most adults are not aware of just how high tech computers drastically change the way we see models. Because our society is regularly exposed to the media, young girls have no choice but to be brain washed by advertisements. Whether it’s through modeling, magazine advertisements or commercials, women are perceived as objects or sex symbols.

Jean Kilbourne is a feminist author and public speaker who is recognized world wide for her views on the way women are perceived in advertising. She has also received a great deal of credit for introducing students to media literacy with the intention of preventing the problems created in mass media. She also provides videos and documentaries to her viewers. In her latest film “Killing Us Softly 4,” her concerns about the influential misconceptions of advertising on young girls are expressed. “I never expected, when I had a daughter, that one of the most important jobs would be to protect her childhood from becoming a marketers’ land grab” (Kilbourne).

“This blurring of the line and the interlacing of memories makes it important that we spend some mental energy considering the nature of reality and how the reality of the two worlds is different” (Potter). It is often hard for young girls and women to generate a difference between what is real and what is false. Most companies have the intention of targeting young girls, many of which don’t realize the models and celebrities in the media are not flawless. This has become a major issue in our culture; perfection is not possible.


Racial Photoshopping

Posted: May 2, 2011 in Photoshop

The media continues to intentionally deceive its audience by the use of photo editing in almost every medium. We’re aware of the editing of models and for advertisements but did we ever think racial photo shopping would be added to the list? In our society, some believe that African Americans are only beautiful if they have lighter skin. Therefore, our media has used photo shop to lighten the color of the African American individuals that they include in their advertising.

There was a controversy on August 26, 2009 where the Microsoft company got caught replacing a black man’s face with a white man’s in one of their advertisements. The black business man appears to be in a office with two other white individuals in the original photo. After the picture was photo shopped, a white mans face was placed on the black mans body. The company’s “racial swap” was almost instantly released in the media when the company failed to change the skin color of the gentleman’s hand in the picture as well. “What I like the most about the contrast between the two images is the blatant contradictions in marketing.  The first promotes the diversity of the market place by utilizing imagery from three different minorities: Women, Asian Americans, and African Americans.  The casting was clearly intentional and such overt attention to diversity is prevalent in marketing these days” (Dean).

Such acts of photo editing are meant to target those of a young age because they are the easiest to influence. Our society has this mind set that there is only one way to look in order to be attractive. The pressures of the being skinny versus over weight, being beautiful instead of ugly, and now being white instead of the numerous other ethnicities that exist.

A Photoshop Law?

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Photoshop

In 2009, several countries, such as France and Britain toyed with the idea of requiring a “warning” label on advertisements which have been retouched.  There were actual laws proposed (but not yet passed) in both of these countries, where not only would photos be labeled as “Photoshopped,” but photos of young people 16 and under could not be retouched at all.  This sparked a large amount of discussion and debate all over the entire world.  In November of 2010, there was still no decision as to whether the law would be passed, and there are no new updates at the moment.  Things still seem to be in the stage of discussion.

There are many advocates with strong opinions on both sides of the fence; pro Photoshop warnings and anti Photoshop warnings.  Many in favor of the law support it because they think the photo retouchers deserve to receive credit as photographers and models do now.  The main reason for the push for government regulation is the large amount of eating disorders, which many believe could be the result of people seeing so many advertisements and photos of “perfect” and extremely thin or muscular men and women.  There is really no way to prove that the images young men and women see in magazines are the cause of eating disorders, and it is obvious that many factors are involved.  There is evidence, however, that young women’s body images are negatively affected by photographs in the media.  In a study on young women (mean age 19.9) in France and Italy, the results showed that “girls with initial body dissatisfaction reported higher body dissatisfaction after being exposed to images of ideally thin models than images of average-size models.” (Rodgers 267)  So although this doesn’t prove that all young women are negatively affected by photos of thin models, it does show that women’s already negative body images can worsen from looking at these photos.

There is also recently been huge controversy over the weight, or lack of it, of fashion models.  Since malnutrition seems to have become fashionable, it only adds to the issue of the editing of magazines.  These people who devote their lives to looking beautiful as models can’t even achieve the looks that they get from Photoshop.  In Killing Me Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne, Cindy Crawford is quoted saying “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”  The unachievable beauty is made to look real in photos, and the skinny models get even skinnier before the photos are published.

The “Photoshop Law” seems closest to becoming a reality in Israel where a bill is supported by The Ministerial Committee for Legislation.  If the bill is passed it would require advertising agencies to put a notice on photos that have been Photoshopped and would also prevent models that do not meet the new 18.5 Body Mass Index rule from being shown in advertisements in Israel’s media. (Lis)  Should the retouching of photos in the media be regulated?  Well, that’s up to the French, Israeli and British governments to decide.  Advocates would also like to see this discussion of new laws begin a trend and someday move to the United States.

Here is a link to a New York Times opinion editorial video on the subject:

Altering Reality

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Photoshop

Many people are unaware of the extent to which photos are edited or “Photoshopped” in the media.  It has come to our attention through a media literacy class.  Although I had an idea about it, I never knew that EVERY photo I see in a magazine or on a billboard has been Photoshopped.  For me it makes a big difference in my perception of what being a beautiful model or celebrity is.  Viewing the time lapses on Youtube of photos going through the Photoshop editing process and seeing before and after photos has made me realize that what the consumer sees is not reality.

There is large public concern all over the world about how the media affects people, children in particular; Photoshop is one of the main issues.  If young boys and girls look at magazines, and see all these perfected bodies, will their body image be affected and if so, how?  Children are treated as a special audience in the media because they are “especially vulnerable to negative effects from the mass media.” (Potter 59)  Their cognitive, emotional, and moral skills which help protect people from media manipulation are at lower levels than adults.  Adults are also able to determine the context of a media message because they have more life experience.  Children may view the perfection in magazines as a reality, which in result could make them view themselves in a less positive light.

Advocates of the use of Photoshop argue that altering images is a form of art, much like painting or sculpture.  If that is the reason for this practice, shouldn’t people be able to express themselves in an artistic fashion?  Advertisements have many artistic aspects to them: photography, fashion, staging the set, using words in ways which people will be drawn to, along with others.  It is quite a dilemma; one side of the argument wanting to protect the self esteem and body images of men, women, and children, and the other side wanting to protect a form of art.  This issue also brings up a lot of questions.  Would advertisements be less effective without Photoshop?  Would actresses be less successful without Photoshop?  Would many people have higher self esteem without it?
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