Digitally altering pictures or ‘Photoshopping’ is the norm of not only the fashion industry but any industry related to print media nowadays. Retouching pictures has not blossomed due to technology, we can trace it back to 1500’s when the period of high renaissance art was fading away a new form of art was emerging known as Mannerism which applauded the modified physic of the subjects over the regular ones(1). Setting impossible standards, models are made to look like virtual perceptions and nothing like their own selves. Being in the fashion industry, models that are already in perfect shape and in the pursuit of the ‘size 0’ are slimmed down to a point where the alteration is very apparent. Their faces enhanced, their curves made prominent, their wrinkles smoothed out and their tan sprayed are few of the many wonders digital alteration can offer. Not restricted to celebrities or models only, youngster’s today use editing applications to soften the tones and apply various filters that can hide blemishes whiten their tone and bring out clearer skin.
These alterations are not offensive to some and they also argue that not only does this catch the viewer’s eye; it can associate a sense of beauty with the related product. Photoshopping in general should be restricted to colors and lighting and should not be used to alter models as this can set unrealistic standards for women and can incorrectly define beauty. Media around us causes body dissatisfaction in teens. The world around us is flooded with the mass media (television, videos, films, movies, billboards, magazines, newspapers, music, fashion designers and the Internet). Staggering statistics reveal that, on average, a child or adolescent watches up to 5 h of television per day and spends an average of 6 to 7 h viewing the various media combined. (3) As seen exposure to these common forms of adverts is an enormous part of a child’s life. The altered women on these media are the inspiration to many and they are what most girls look up to.
While obviously no model looks like that in real life, there’s a psychological impact on adolescent girls to look more and more like them. Young girls have higher body dissatisfaction when compared to boys, they generally want to weigh less and have a thinner waist. In a study it was seen that after the viewing of slender bodies and altered images the body image was more negative in girls, this negativity was strong in teens. Photoshopped images can lead to unrealistic body standards for women and can in turn lead to body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction in teens can lead to severe anxiety, depression and can cause teens to have more suicidal thoughts than the average teen that doesn’t really care about their body. Teens are distressed and troubled due to their body image to such an extent that they need psychiatric help. More problematically the signs of body dissatisfaction are ignored in most teens and are given treatment aimed at mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Shy about their bodies they may not speak up and often remain uncured. Body dissatisfaction can lead to eating disorders. This is not only limited or focused to adolescent girls. The general body image is getting thinner and thinner day by day and added the Photoshop effect some of the bodies are very disproportionate. Their body type is what physicians would call anorexic. In the pursuit to look like models or to say be ‘The cover girl’ most girls starve themselves and refuse to eat all day. The negative image of their bodies can lead teen to tremendously alter their diets which can has severe adverse effects on their health. Dieting in teens that are not even overweight is rising day by day; this crash dieting can lead to Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a psychological condition in which the patient does not suffer a loss of appetite for food but has them restricted to what and how much they can eat.
People might disregard this condition as very basic but Anorexia Nervosa can lead to Bone fractures, cardio vascular problems, hematological problems, Hormonal problems, Kidney problems and even Death. Continuous dieting however can also result in other eating disorders, compulsive eating and its other form, bulimia nervosa, a disorder in which the victim, most commonly a women diets, experiences rebound binge eating due to food deprivation and then purges to get rid of the excessive calories she had taken. Food restraint can sometimes directly cause compulsive eating, an act which can swiftly turn into a relentless habit. On the other hand is another disorder called Bulimia, which can be termed as an illness , can be initiated by one thinking it would work out as an effective way to control weight but it rapidly develops into an addiction which can overwhelm the victim and in turn becomes their way of coping up with emotional problems.
Quite recently eating disorders induced by the physiological pressure of media with a big hand of digitally altered models has claimed lives. Ana Carolina Reston, 21 a model from her teenage years died after she took on a diet of only apples and tomatoes. Luis Ramos, 22 died from a heart attack due to her living on only diet coke and lettuce. (2). Prominent nose, ideal calves, thigh gaps, proper bust to waist ratio, pouty lips, enhanced cheek bones, wrinkle free smooth skin. These are some of the many digitally corrected phenomenons in the post photo shoot process. These are also some of the physical attributes that attract or seduce the average male. Waist to hip ratio being the most popular is regarded as the first thing men notice in women(4).As these models are artificial in the sense that they are digitally retouched and in real life look nothing like this, these standards are unachievable.
In one edition of Self magazine, Singer and model Kelly Clarkson was shown as very slender and a very fit model, however her appearance in Good Morning America a few days later proved the fact that her pictures were shopped (A slang for photo shopped), later the editors admitted to the rumors being true as well(5). The models being the attention black holes for teens put a psychological pressure on them to look and dress that way, to attain these un achievable standards many opt for plastic surgeries. From Botox injections for eliminating wrinkles to nip and tuck, a procedure in which body fat is surgically removed for a slimmer body. All kinds of surgeries are on a rise these days. According to Toby Melville Business in plastic surgery industry has boosted by up to 25% in last 10 years. Plastic surgeries are expensive, painful and have many side effects but are still resorted to by teens to mimic the standards of beauty set by the digitally altered images Experts of the field argue that photo shopping models and then using their pictures throughout media not only gives the reader/viewer a good feeling it ensures their interest in the article.
Being the choice of the reader would he rather pick a magazine which has standard looking model on the cover page, which looks like everyday women he encounters or a model who is different, slimmer, curvier, full-bosomed and younger. The later would be the choice of many. However defending their work, they forget the adverse effects it can have on the coming generation. These effects can be crucial in defining how these youngsters turn out in their adult age, they can suffer from severe psychological damages, which include but are not limited to lack of confidence, low self esteem, social anxiety etc. Summing up the argument, it is safe to conclude that what Photoshop is doing to our community has far worse and wide spread effects than the good it’s doing to the fashion industry or print media.
We can say that the fashion industry can still flourish without the digital alteration of the images of models if Photoshop is banned, however if it’s not banned then these side effects pertaining to youngsters and the psychological interpretation of the society today cannot be stopped, or contained. Photoshop can create false hope in teens about their body and also can increase the expectation an average male has from their female counter part.
If the ads do not directly pressurize the women, it can however create a false image in the males mind and boyfriends/husbands/fiancés can also be the reason women are pressurized to look more and more like the women that are digitally altered. This can make the society a very difficult place for women to survive in. there have also been cases in women worked 2 or more shifts to save up money for the cosmetic plastic surgery that can help them fulfill their imaginary goal of beauty. We can say that Photoshop should be restricted to color tones of the pictures, their background, or merging pictures together however it should be completely banned when it comes to altering the physic of the models.
Courtney from Study Moose
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