A Perfectly Destroyed World

A Perfectly Destroyed World

The effects Photoshop in the media has on self image.
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Photoshop is everywhere. If you see a picture in the media, chances are it has been digitally enhanced in some form or another. Most people’s general understanding of photoshop is that it is used by photographers and can fix issues with lighting and color. What they are not aware of however, is how many people actually use photoshop, and the extent to which they can use it.

Some of the common professions that work with post processing programs alongside photographers include web designers, graphic designers, advertisers, magazine editors, modeling agencies, book cover editors... The list goes on and on. We see it used on magazine covers, in articles, on billboards, on TV, in websites, and just about everywhere in social media. It portrays the media’s idea of “average”, while simultaneously setting standards for ideal thinness and beauty. We are told these bodies portrayed through digital manipulation are “real people”, and we should aspire to look just like them.

What do these “real people” actually look like however? That would take hours of pressing an undo button in photoshop to discover. The picture we are given shows all types of alterations, including but not limited to, slimmed down thighs, shrunken waists, limbs that have been stretched out to look more lengthy, lightened skin tones, and any traces of acne, scars, bruises, cellulite, birthmarks, or “imperfection” has been removed. Along with all of this enhancement, body parts are often replaced with those of another person, with the end product resulting in an almost unrecognizable person. Over time as photoshop programs have gradually evolved and become more available, the use of digital enhancement on images shown in the media has grown to a much greater extent.

Okay, so what? What's wrong with using a brush to make someone look a little skinnier or clear up their face of acne? Why is this an issue? Because it's not just “making someone look a little skinnier.” It’s setting a standard for beauty and ideal bodies that is simply unrealistic. These images of people are put into the media for society to look up to as role models. When the average American views an image in the media of a flawless model, they compare themselves to that model, scrutinizing every part of their own body. And what do they see? Every little thing wrong with himself that the media has now deemed as a “flaw.” This potentially leads to a negative self image, no matter how confident that person is with himself. This is especially prominent in females, who are under the constant pressure to look like models in the media. Even in ads that promote being healthy and working out to achieve the look you want, models are photoshopped to look more toned and muscular. While this is more of an issue with females than males, men are still victims of the editor’s eye.

The average American stumbles upon over 3,000 advertisements every day, with images of idealized female beauty at the center of many of these. Failure to live up to these perfected expectations is inevitable, because these images are based on a level of flawlessness that does not exist. Studies have shown that young women and girls who are exposed to beauty and fashion magazines are at greater risk of developing body image issues or worse, full-blown eating disorders. Depression and eating disorders have been proven to be directly linked to society’s exposure to the way people are portrayed in the media. And the age at which society starts to develop body image issues has increasingly gotten younger and younger. In a paper written at the University of Sussex, it was said that in a survey of over 500 adolescent girls aged 9-16, nearly 70% believed magazine pictures influenced their idea of the ideal body shape, and 47% of the same girls wished to lose weight as a result of this. These alarming statistics show a direct correlation between what we are shown by the media, and how we view ourselves. Yet nothing is being done about it.

By providing these artificial illustrations of flawless models, society is taught to fear even the smallest of imperfection on their body. The retouching of images is essentially never disclosed to the end viewer, and as a result we are led to believe that this is what the models actually look like. Surveys have shown that most people do recognize the fact that images in the media have been photoshopped, yet the same surveys continued on to show that even with this knowledge, people compare themselves against the images, and have a negative view towards themselves after viewing the images. Exposing society to these “ideal” people has a negative impact on body satisfaction, whether we would like to admit it or not.

In a video published in 2012, on “body evolution”, society was given a glimpse at just how ‘real’ the final product of the model looks. The video took form of a time lapse, showing the process of photoshoot-photoshop. The world watched as the model was transformed in photoshop, with tools altering her entire body shape, facial features, and skin tone. The final product? An airbrushed, stretched out person.. Literally. The video went viral, and the public was in an uproar. Yet even after that, the media continued to use the same amount of photoshop they always had, and the public went on with their daily lives.

So what can we do about this? Obviously the use of photoshop can not be stopped in its entirety, so how do we separate fantasy from reality? By educating the population on this ongoing issue, through social media, campaigns, presentations, etc. Dove started a “Movement for self esteem”, blasting the media with all kinds of videos, pictures, commercials, and ads that featured people showing their real selves and what they thought. Aerie started putting girls on their bags, with “This girl has not been photoshopped” to show that they swore off the use of photoshop in their promotion. And all sorts of hashtags have blasted social media over the years, such as #ImNoAngel, #Fitkini, and #BodyPosi to promote self love. The NOW Foundation (National Organization for Women Foundation) started a “Love your body Day”, which “challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.” The media needs to put out more disclaimers about images that have been photoshopped, and start promoting healthier looking models. We need a wider definition of beauty, not one that has been slimmed down and airbrushed.

While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, for now, it is in the eye of the photoshopper.


Cover Image Credit: stuffpoint.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Not Wearing A Bra, And 11 Other Things Girls Do That Make Guys Uncomfortable

According to men, we're the biggest enigma.

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As a woman in today's society, it seems like according to men we can do nothing right. We either get over sexualized to the point where we are told "cover up" or over sexualized to the point where we are called prude for not showing enough skin to attract the attention of the men around us. Taking all of this into consideration, guys are still grossly uncomfortable with normal things that women do in today's world. If you're a woman reading this, I'm sure you're already forming a list in your head. If you're a man, well, here are 12 things that you are uncomfortable with that you probably shouldn't be.

1. Not wearing a bra 

First and foremost, whether I cease to wear one out in public or in my home, trust me, buddy, I'm not doing it for you. I'm not doing it so you'll mention the fact that you can tell I'm not wearing one. I'm doing it for my comfort level, and most certainly not for your benefit. At all. Ever.

2. Denying their advances 

Grabbing my ass is not the correct way to ask me to move out of your way, catcalling me will not get my attention, and no, buying me a drink does not mean you automatically get laid. Not only do you look like an idiot to every woman around you with that kind of mentality, but to the girl you're trying to impress by being a pig? Yeah, she thinks you're pretty stupid, too.

I know it just kills your ego when we tell you no. How dare we make YOU feel uncomfortable by denying your lovely attempts at getting our attention.

3. Not accepting a drink they hand us

They offer you a drink, you say no, and suddenly not only are they mad on some occasions, but their poor ego is damaged indefinitely... Until they try that same move with the girl a few places down. They don't understand why you won't accept their drink that they were so nice to buy you.

Uh, you could drug me. If you want to buy me a drink, let me order it, watch the bartender make it, and then you can pay. Please don't expect me to take a drink right from you.

4. Traveling in groups to the bathroom during a girls' night out

We only do that because there is strength in numbers. If it makes you uncomfortable, sorry, but guys like you are probably the reason we do it. I don't know why our safety is any concern to you.

5. Knowing about cars, sports, or anything deemed a "guy thing"

You say one thing about a sports team or a car part and suddenly, according to men, you have no idea what you're talking about and they have to talk over you to explain it all, much better than you could. They only do this because the thought of us knowing anything about "guy stuff" makes their skin crawl.

6. Wanting careers 

How dare we want real jobs and to be paid as much as them! Silly us!

7. Thinking our place is anywhere but the kitchen 

Obviously we are meant to be of total service to the men in our lives, regardless of circumstances, right? We shouldn't have careers and hobbies when our life's purpose is to be a homemaker who slaves over the stove all day while our very masculine husbands do everything.

When will we learn? No wonder you guys are so uncomfortable. We don't know our place yet.

8. Wanting rights to our own bodies 

Uh oh, I think we forgot (again) that men are supposed to be in control of everything about us, including reproductive rights. No wonder they're so confused. They aren't always in control.

9. Not wanting kids

But wait! Isn't our only reason for being alive to mother a baby? It's a blessing to be a mom no matter what, according to men, and we need to fall in line. So, when you look a man in the eye and say you don't want kids, sometimes their eyes about pop out of their skull.

10. Having a menstrual cycle 

Men will never understand the daunting nature of our time of the month. Between cramps, headaches, and the constant desire to pop pain killers, it's grueling. To men, though, the whole thing is gross. Ew, we're bleeding. Forget about denying them anything during this time because most of them will not understand why.

11. Denying them sex of any kind, ever 

We have every right to tell you no. Listen, I know it just totally baffles you when we do, guys, but we owe you nothing. Let me say it again. We owe you nothing. No matter what.

12. Being independent 

By society's standards, even today, we are to allow a man to take care of us meek young women. You meet a man who intends to do that and by the first date when you pay for your bill he doesn't want you anymore. You want to work for your money and not depend on him, know about topics deemed "guy stuff", and stand up to him and he just doesn't understand why.

Let's face it: Guys will never understand.

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