The Photoshop Standard

Guest Post by: Rose Robinson, Aspiring Advertiser

Technology has made it possible for perfection, whether it be true or not. We are flooded with images that have been doctored with Photoshop to make us purchase a product or buy a magazine. It is common practice to enhance photos in order to make them more pleasing to the consumer eye, which makes it the norm to see perfection. The media is willing to distort models to the extremes at the cost of making consumers feel inadequate.

B RobinsonThere have been many scandals about Photoshop but Jennifer Lawrence’s magazine cover stands out to me. She is known for publicly speaking out against poor body image and encouraging girls to embrace their bodies. In 2011, she posed for the Canadian fashion magazine, Flare. It came out recently that this cover had been altered and it went viral on the web showing the before and after photo.

What surprises me the most is that Lawrence’s stand on body images in society, which is largely reinforced by her Photoshopped images. It is unclear if she gave consent for Flare to alter the photos, but I would argue that ethically, Lawrence is somewhat at fault. As a celebrity, she should have a say as to which image is to be printed. If it is inherently against her values, she should not be supporting this practice. A celebrity such as Lawrence has power in our society. People listen and respect her opinions so seeing her image on a magazine cover has big impact. She should be aware of her status and that her actions speak to her personal brand and society as a whole.

On the other hand, I think it is important to look at the consumers. We are well aware that media images such as advertisements and magazine covers are Photoshopped. We know what Jennifer Lawrence looks like. Why are we so surprised when it happens and why does it have such an impact on our society’s standard of beauty? As consumers of the media, I think we have a responsibility to think critically about the messages we see. We aren’t sponges or zombies. We can think for ourselves and realize that this isn’t how a real woman’s body looks like. It’s all about being aware and hesitant to believe that the image the photographer saw is the image you see.

To me, the lines between enhancing and altering a photo are blurred. We all take Instagrams to filter our photos and change the lighting or fix red-eye before posting a photo to Facebook, but we struggle with the widespread use of deceptively altered media images. Our society glorifies celebrities and emphasizes beauty. That is a fatal pairing. The standards of beauty are dictated by what we see in magazines, in this case Jennifer Lawrence’s skinny waist, and affect how we perceive our own self worth. The consumer, the media, and even the person in the image all play a part in the ethical usage of Photoshop. The editors of these magazines or the art directors who create advertisements can distort societal opinion by the click of a mouse, yet, it also seems that consumers and the subject of the photos can and should take more responsibility than they have had in the past. We have the power to change social standards of beauty.

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