Photoshop: how far will magazines go?

By Andrea Crowley

The lovely Oscar-winning Cate Blanchett was featured on the March/April 2012 cover of Intelligent Life magazine… un-Photoshopped. Her face is void of heavy makeup and reveals the faint bags under her eyes and weary lines across her pale face. When placed along side any other magazine on the newsstand, this one is sure to stand out most.

While Blanchett is still very charming on this cover, other women featured on women’s publications such as Cosmopolitan or Glamour look much different. They have glowing skin, large breasts, caked on makeup and blowing hair (as if a perfect gust of wind just came in and hit them straight on during their photo shoot).  We see them as beautiful people, but are they real?

In comparison to Vogue’s  March cover of Adele, Blanchett’s cover is a true depiction of herself – a 42-year-old working mother and actress. Every wrinkle (of maybe the three that she has) is shown. She is wearing work clothes and has her hair down in a natural wave.

Screen shot taken by Andrea Crowley.

Looking at Adele on the cover of Vogue is like looking at an after shot of someone who’s just had plastic surgery. It appears as though she has just lost a significant amount of weight, reduced the size of her rib cage and gotten rid of her normally rounded cheeks. Photoshop has the ability to make someone who is real, fake. What was wrong with the authentic Adele (the photo on the right of her at the Grammy’s)? Does this suggest to young girls that being a little curvier is not okay? Not beautiful?

Tiny Fey is one celebrity who opposes Photoshop. In her recent book, Bossypants, Fey writes, ” I feel about Photoshop the way some people feel about abortion.  It is appalling and a tragic reflection on the moral decay of our society…unless I need it, in which case, everybody be cool,” (p. 157).Kelly Clarkson and Jessica Simpson are other celebs opposing Photoshop. Read 5 Real Women Being Real About Body Image by Lovelyish blogger to find out if any of your favorite public figures are too.

Magazines are considered journalistic publications so the public expects a magazine’s staff to report truthfully. Shouldn’t that include photos? What do you think about Photoshop and to what extent should it be used in magazines (entertainment or scholarly)?

4 responses to “Photoshop: how far will magazines go?

  1. erinmchenry01

    The photoshop controversy is definitely nothing too new, but I think it’s very interesting that Cate Blanchett was pictured un-photoshopped (and pretty cool). Lots of people have discussed the issue, but it’s rare to see someone act upon it. Why has it taken so long for something like this to occur? Sex sells, and our society revolves around body images. I’m also curious if Blanchett made the decision, or the magazine? I’ve heard of celebrities that didn’t consent or know that they were going to be photoshopped. Perhaps Blanchett will be a precedent of sorts… I hope so! It’s awesome that she’s willing to display herself in that way, when other stars are computerized to look perfect. Great post, Andrea! Really interesting!

  2. I just read this article about Jennifer Love Hewitt and her new show The Client List. For one of the ads they actually digitally reduced her breasts. I find it interesting that usually you see media making these women more sexual and ‘appealing’ but in this situation that meant reducing her breasts. Considering her show is very sexual in nature its interesting that they decided to completely change her physique in this manner.

  3. Great topic! I do agree that Photoshopping celebs to look ‘perfect’ (or fake) really doesn’t help the fact that young girls are trying to be more and more like what they see. I don’t think magazines realize the impact they have or the image of beauty that they are creating. But realistically, the way they are making these women look is what sells, and to many editors, that’s all that matters. I can’t say that I think that Photoshop is evil, but Tina Fey said it perfectly. Can you imagine if every celebrity boycotted Photoshop…would the sales of magazines go down or would their pictures be altered without their knowledge?

  4. I think that while it’s easy to sit back and curse photoshop, the real problem runs a lot deeper. We cannot simply solve the problem by holding publications to an ethical “photoshop standard,” but have to change our societal perception of beauty. Cate Blanchett is stunning, obviously, and doesn’t need makeup to be “beautiful.” But how long will it be until we can say that about the average woman? I think this is a huge problem, and while photoshop perpetuates the issue, we need to look deeper than that.

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