A big controversy has been going on for years in the fashion industry: the controversy over the use of Photoshop. It has been said that the use of Photoshop does not affect women in a harmful manner. However, most would disagree with this. Some individuals believe the power of Photoshop is a marvelous thing, but the photographers in the fashion industry today go too far with the editing tools, and it is causing the women who view these images to suffer.
Photoshop can be used to slightly adjust an image or to drastically enhance its appearance. You can start with adjusting the light in the background of an image and go as far as completely changing the whole image by morphing the objects presented. Behind the scenes, photo editors are like magicians; they can do almost anything to an image. They can make celebrities and models look thinner, taller, unblemished, with brighter eyes and whiter teeth. Photoshop is not used just to retouch the model in the image, though. Editors also tweak and adjust the lighting, the background, and the color scheme. The ability of Photoshop is limitless, but this may or may not be ideal for the generation of women viewing all of the fashion advertisements that have been Photoshopped.
As technology has grown, so have the powers of Photoshop and some would say that these powers could affect the women viewing the edited images. Photoshop has come so far that editors can reshape and retouch everything about the model in the image, and this is ridiculous because it is giving women who view these images impossible ideas of how women should look.
I watched a video by Rare Digital Art, and it is a great example of how outrageous Photoshop has gotten. The video depicts Elizabeth Moss, the company’s head retoucher, an individual whose profession is editing and enhancing images. She spends six hours smoothing, shaping, and contouring a woman’s skin, nails, lips and more. Moss goes as far as zooming into the model’s ear and shading the area so that the model’s flyaway hairs next to her ear are contained. The detail that goes into this work is crazy! The women who view the final image of the video have no idea how much went into making the model look perfect and they think that they are supposed to be able to look as perfect as that model.
Madonna Before and After Photoshop Editing
The problem is when women look in the mirror, they do not have the helpful tools of Photoshop. Real women cannot compete with these models. There have even been petitions to get rid of Photoshop in the fashion industry, like the Anti-Photoshopping Pledge that was pushed by the Brave Girls' Alliance, which is an organization lead by women to lend a helping hand to the next generation.
Celebrities have also started to stand up to the issue of Photoshop. “I think women’s bodies are a battleground,” Keira Knightley told Time in an article regarding the use of Photoshop. “And photography is partly to blame.” The article also featured another recent celebrity, Lorde, a young singer/songwriter. Two different pictures of her at a concert, one with Photoshop and one without appeared in this article. The difference in the singer-songwriter’s complexion is drastic, and she even expresses aggravation because she is trying to be an image for young women, but editors are releasing pictures that do not look like her, which then gives young girls unrealistic ideas. Photoshop can affect the women viewing the image and the woman featured in the image, as well.
Image on top is photoshopped; image below is not. Lorde uses her Twitter account to call out the photoshopped image.
The effect Photoshop has on women is undeniable. Women are vulnerable, so viewing drastically edited pictures messes with their thinking, “Even when it's painfully obvious that a model's body has been altered, seeing these images everywhere still messes with your head." Women tend to think, "Wait, is that what people want me to look like?"
Yes, some women may be strong enough to resist the confusion and self-scrutinization, but most are not, especially vulnerable young girls. If photographers would release images that were not edited as much as they do edited now, it would greatly influence women in a more positive way.