Today Fat Bottom Cabaret (the plus-sized cabaret group that I’m in) had our first photo shoot. I was running low on foundation so yesterday I went and the brand I used had discontinued my typical foundation so I got something new. The woman at the make-up counter put it on to show me how great it was and I came home. I washed it off and went to bed. And woke up with hives. Freaking hives. Huge red hives. All. Over. My. Face.
The problem that this created for me is that I typically ask not to be photoshopped at all. I figure if I’m going to put images out there they ought to include my splotchy skin (pores and all ) and fat rolls and everything. A drop in the photoshop ocean maybe, but at least it’s a drop. Except that I want my hives photoshopped out of these pictures and I really struggled with it this all morning. In the end I decided to get the retouching for the same reason that I’m generally against photoshopping – because I don’t typically have hives and I want to see pictures that are reflective of what people look like when you meet them on the street.
It is almost impossible to look at our media and see a person as they look in real life. It’s not just the poreless skin. We’re talking about people who are missing arms, missing hips, have legs so small that they can’t hold them up. It’s ridiculous.
And we’re starting to consume these images earlier and earlier:
Here’s Mylie Cyrus – the actress who played the Disney Character “Hannah Montana” :
And here she is on the promo materials:
What chance do little girls have of holding on to their self-esteem when their heroes are all photo-shopped to hell? How many adolescent girls struggled with their crazy skin and pre-braces teeth wondering why they couldn’t look like Mylie Cyrus
And worse than that is the defense of photoshop by the people who are doing it under the guise of showing people in their “best light”:
When Self magazine took criticism for their out of control photoshopping of Kelly Clarkson while having the absolute brass cajones to print the words “Total Body Confidence” on the same cover, Editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger wrote in her blog: “Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best…But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand.”
Now, knowing how much photoshopping Self does, it’s certainly possible that this was their truest image ever, but that just makes it more horrifying. And since when does our personal best include a computer? Are we going to be issued Predator-esque costumes so that a computer can always generate our “Personal Best” ?
Even if we consciously know that the images we see aren’t real, I’m not sure that it’s possible to avoid some level of subconscious conditioning when we see thousands of images a year that give us an unrealistic picture of what people look like. So, just to keep it a little real here: