Growing Up in the Age of Photoshop

Guest Post by Makeda Touré, student

Until high school I didn’t know photos were edited to the extreme that they were and sometimes are being today. I didn’t look at how skinny or big women were, never paid attention to how long someone’s neck was or how thick their thighs were. I was interested in one thing, will my mom ever buy this for me? Of course this wasn’t through my whole childhood, when I got into high school I started getting more concerned of my weight and what I looked like. I was always super skinny and lengthy so body image never was a huge issue to me. The real issue that started surrounding my image was the color of my skin. Don’t get me wrong I love my ethnicity, race, sex and every little thing about myself. However, around middle school this became another story.

Everywhere I looked there were white, skinny models. Going down fashion runways, on the cover of Seventeen magazine, on billboards and in all of the toothpaste commercials. I always wondered, where all of the people of color were. I am from Minnesota which I wouldn’t call extremely diverse, but everywhere I went to school I was diverse and we didn’t form cliques or friend groups by race. Somehow this misrepresentation in media was affecting me. Yet, it wasn’t until later that I realized that my self-worth had nothing to do with if I was being represented in the media or not.

B ToureThinking back to the alteration of photos, before high school I never paid attention to the curve of a model’s waist. Although, I certainly knew people who were paying attention to model sizes. Some of my girlfriends who weighed 120 pounds soaking wet and with rocks in their pockets were constantly worried about if the pink ‘Barbie girl’ t-shirt they had on made them look fat and I couldn’t understand it. Freshman year of high school I was a bit of a tomboy and I thought it was strange to care about stuff like this. But as I got older I started to care more and more about if looked fat in my purple ‘Barbie girl’ t-shirt.

Is there such a thing as ethically using Photoshop? I believe there is. To be honest sometimes fixing blemishes does enhance an image, unless this makes my senior photos unethical (oops). But there is a line that is often crossed to a point of no return. When people start changing serious proportions of a body by making a woman’s hips smaller than her head we have a problem that is much bigger than software misuse. When we start creating these false images in media, we tell people this is what a woman is supposed to look like. If she doesn’t look like this, you don’t want her. Women and children are often overlooked in society. Yes, there are steps being taken to change this but are they enough and will they work? I certainly hope so because future generations need something more than a pretty face and a skinny waist.

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