Recently, I've had quite a bit of interest in exactly how many celebrities, models and magazine cover girls are photoshopped. I've always been confused by how paparazzi snaps seem unflattering, but go to a star's Instagram page or magazine spread and they look like gods and goddesses. For a long time I've been wanting to know how to get the perfect shot to share on social media, one that looks candid, natural and has the perfect lighting. Here's the problem, you can't. Well, not without an entire team of photographic experts who have the right equipment and of course photoshop. Now you may think photoshop is super difficult and that you can't change your appearance that drastically unless you have special training, but this is simply not true. I set up an experiment to find out how drastically I (a self-taught, very amateur Photoshopper) could change a photo to fit magazine cover beauty standards.
The change is drastic, and the photo on the right is something you'll be more familiar with when you flip through magazines and the pages full of perfect women and men, with perfect bodies. I'm sure you've often thought to yourself: "How can I get such even, perfect, glowing skin tone?" or "What can I do to look as fit and toned as that model/celebrity?" . Here's the thing: you probably can't. The ideal body type and face is designed around the word itself: IDEAL. Basically in an ideal world, every woman would have a super tiny waist, long thing, toned legs, a perfectly toned and round bum, and perky precisely proportioned boobs. In an ideal world all men would have big muscles, naturally smooth, hairless chests and backs, the perfect 5 o'clock shadow and strong, toned legs. But this is not an ideal world.
If you want to know what I did to photoshop my image here it is:
I warped the entire body shape.... a lot. Gave the model A rounder, perkier butt, much smaller waist, I cut some 'weight' off of the arms and even the neck and thinned out the thighs. I narrowed the entire face shape. I also used light and shadow tools to alter the appearance of the body shape. I darkened the hair and although I have covered the model's face in the images above, there were a lot of fly away hairs on her face, so I edited those all out too. I edited out pimples, blemishes and under eye circles and 'contoured' her face using light and shadow tools. I also changed her brow shape and thickened her lips. Lastly, I airbrushed her skin using a golden colour on the paintbrush tool, turning the opacity super low and I used a smoothing tool on her skin. This all took me about 1.5 hours. That's not very long considering the drastic changes I have made.
Looking back on my photoshop experiment, it's no wonder people around the world who are exposed to print media are experiencing forms of body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, depression, self-consciousness, anxiety and general self-loathing. We are a society that loves to compare ourselves to others, to better ourselves possibly, and this element of our human nature always turns around and bites us back. How are we meant to love ourselves when magazines put phrases out there like "all natural" "real" "raw" and "makeup free" and then feed us images of heavily photoshopped people who don't even look like themselves. Photoshop is the new makeup, and it's not only useful for the face.
We need to stop believing that a perfect hourglass shape is normal. nobody has blemish free, even skin. No one is bronzed and glowing all over. Swan necks, never ending legs and a 10 inch waist are not what walks onto a modeling set. We live in an edited world, and ideals are made to seem normal when they are quite the opposite.
Even the models posing for the magazines wish they looked like the models in the magazines.
- The Traveling Oyster