The rampant Photoshopping, retouching, and airbrushing of both magazine content and advertisements is nothing new. But it's been a bit of a hot topic lately as publications like Seventeen and Teen Vogue have faced pressure from readers to show their models in a more natural state. This is not only an issue of attempting to safeguard young girls' self esteem, but it is also an issue of truth and integrity in journalism which seems to have been overlooked for too long. And it's not just removing blemishes and cellulite and presenting the best version of a fabulous woman, it can get Frankenstein up in the photo editing office.
The biggest lie Photoshopping sells is just that a human being can look like the image in a magazine. Models are already some of the slimmest, most genetically blessed and beautiful women in the world. The attractive 1%, if you will. There is a very slim chance that a normal girl of average height and weight could realistically aspire to look like a model who has undergone no makeup or airbrushing. Then these beauty wunderkinds are worked on for hours and hours to make them even more beautiful — hair extensions, lash extensions, hours of makeup and styling, the ideal lighting, the chance to take a million shots lest they have an errant hair or wobbly bit in a shot. A process which is too time consuming and expensive for most women even on the most beauty-intensive days of their lives — weddings, proms, major events, or the particularly rigorously prepared for big date. Jessica Simpson famously posed for the cover of Marie Claire, right, without any makeup or much hairstyling.
2. What you see is real
At least the bare bones of the person being photographed are real, right? No — absolutely not. Not only are super slim actresses' and models' bodies altered through slimming of waists and legs and arms, but often time actual bones are removed or angles added. "I have smoothed boniness before — like when models have bones sticking out of their chest, they want that subdued. That's somewhat common," one photo retoucher told BuzzFeed.
3. Makeup can give you the flawless skin you see in ads
Not only are blemishes or general uneven skin tone corrected in post-production, but things like veins, freckles, moles, undereye bags, body hair, and wrinkles are often removed or "subdued." Some enhancements are even added — teeth and the whites of eyes are brightened to make smiles and eyes really pop.
4. Your knees are hideous.
One of the most disturbing examples of Photoshopping you would never have thought of is smoothing of the knees. "If you look at something and the model's got dark kneecaps with dry skin, your eyes are going to go straight to the knees instead of whatever it is they're modeling," the anonymous photo retoucher said. You are not crazy, Britney Spears' knees do look like those of a Barbie Doll in the Candie's ads.
5. The eyelashes you see in a mascara ad are achievable.
Mascara ads have come under a lot of fire from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Claims for digitally altering their product in a way that is falsely advertising a product's capabilities. The photo retoucher concurs. "The mascara ads are just ridiculous. They wear false eyelashes, of course, in the photoshoot, and we completely draw the lashes in one by one so it's just like a forest of eyelashes. That's like the biggest lie of all — you can't achieve that."