Photoshop: Use it or lose it

Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. The definition is not “skinny”, or “big boobs” or “straight, blonde hair with blue eyes”, so why do we make these stereotypes?

People all around the world see beauty in many different ways, and have their own opinions on what a beautiful woman looks like. Two women, half-black, half-Japanese Priscilla Yuki Wilson and Esther Honig both sent a picture of themselves to Photoshop companies around the world and asked them to “make them look beautiful”. Most of the altered photos came back drastically different than the original photos.

(Original/Pakistan -- all images credited to Esther Honig)

(Original/Pakistan — all images credited to Esther Honig)


Now, keep in mind that these digitally altered photos are only a representation of one person’s mind and opinions. However, why did these Photoshop companies have to alter the photos in the first place? Because that woman may not be appealing to that one person’s eye that means that they are not beautiful?

In the U.S., Photoshop has become a symbol of our society’s unobtainable standards for beauty. You cannot flip through a magazine, see an advertisement on T.V., or pass billboards without seeing women with flawless faces and a perfect body. But the truth is: these images are not real. These images are representations of what people actually want to see, not what they see in real life.

(Original/Macedonia – all images credited to Priscilla Yuki Wilson)

(Original– all images credited to Priscilla Yuki Wilson)


The problem with Photoshop is that it is ruining the definition of beauty. Beauty is not defined as characteristics that please the sight anymore. Now, it is “skinny”, “big boobs” and “straight, blonde hair with blue eyes”. The definition is a flawless, smooth face, with a perfect body and a flat stomach. That is what Photoshop is making it out to be.

Even celebrities, such as Kate Winslet and Brad Pitt have now joined in to take a stand against Photoshop companies retouching their pictures, because it’s not what they want their audience to see.

Some people think that the discussions brought up by people about Photoshop are “eye-rolling”. They believe that Photoshop will have little impact on America’s vision of beauty and that the alteration of images in photography should not be singled out.

Elizabeth Perle from Huffington Post asked, “What happens when you take Photoshop out of the equation? We are left with models and performers who are still under an enormous amount of pressure to go to enormous lengths to make their bodies look a certain way.”

True, models still might want to look a certain way, but that way may not be the same beauty standard that has been set by the media. The media’s global beauty standard is skinny, flawless faces, etc. Without Photoshop, one model’s standard might just be exactly the way she looks at that moment, acne, curves and all.

Photoshop along with every social media site that we see sets a standard for women, especially adolescents. This becomes a major problem in our society.

Another Huffington Post stated that, “The American Medical Association (AMA) recently announced it was taking a stand against image manipulation in advertising, stating that alterations made through processes like Photoshop can contribute to unrealistic body image expectations, eating disorders and other emotional problems.”

Because TV and magazines often created a distorted image of reality, it makes it difficult for young teens and women to differentiate what is real and what is exaggerated. When teenage girls see flawless, skinny bodies on TV or in magazines, they get frustrated because they wonder why they can’t look like those women. Some girls, like me, accept the fact that those images are not realistic views, and that no one can look that perfect, even though secretly we envy those images. Other girls take their frustration to a new level. They feel like they must live up to the standards of photoshopped images.

Teen anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders among adolescents and teens. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders said that 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia in their lifetime. 20 percent of those women will die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

These girls or women will see photos of women with slender bodies, and they think that they have to live up to those expectations in order to be beautiful. So, they cut back on soda, cut back on desserts, cut back on food altogether.

The Dove Campaign For Real Beauty said that in a study of over 1,200 10 to 17 year olds, a majority of girls, 72% said that they feel major pressure to be beautiful. We as a community, as a global network, need to recognize the severity of the effects of Photoshop. Photoshop is not just touching up makeup, or erasing wrinkles. Photoshop is pressuring girls to feel beautiful, pressuring women to live up to the standards of the models they use, and pressuring our society to have a global beauty standard.

Photoshop needs to stop being used for advertisements, magazines, etc. In order to accomplish this, we need to speak up and speak out about this issue. If we do not, the people’s views on beauty will be distorted for more generations to come.

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