There’s been a lot of chatter, both on this blog and in other forums, about the frequency of airbrushing and Photoshopping of the images of womens’ and mens’ bodies we see on magazine covers and in advertisements. This isn’t anything new. Post-production photo editing is now standard practice. Editing can be a useful tool to highlight the inherent positive aspects of an image. However, as we know, extreme editing can create deception and a false portrayal of reality. I don’t think this is news to anyone reading this blog.
While I’ve often thought about how it feels to look at digitally manipulated images of peoples’ bodies, I’ve never thought about how it feels to be the person whose looks have been changed. I read an article this week that added a different perspective to this issue. (Click here for the article!) A writer for BBC News went to a photo studio and had some photos of herself taken. She was then present for the post-production editing process, in which she asked the fashion photographer to do an “extreme” edit on her photos. In the article, she describes what it felt like to see her body manipulated and her features change to look more model-worthy.
After watching photos of herself be digitally altered to change her skin tone and body shape, journalist Tulip Mazumdar said, “Suddenly the original images that I was quite happy with at the start, looked old, tired and a bit chubby.” That really would be a blow to one’s self-image--to see flattering photos of oneself all of a sudden be scrutinized for “flaws” and changed to meet a standard of beauty that someone else has set. With the influence of extreme airbrushing, what is real suddenly feels sub-par, and what is artificial suddenly feels standard.
Think about it, though. We do the same thing to ourselves, or to other people, more often than we realize. I think it would be safe to say that many of us wake up in the morning, wash our faces, then look in the mirror and hone in on blemishes or something that needs to be plucked or waxed or covered up in some way. A look in a full-length mirror might lead us to highlight something that could be tucked or tightened or toned a little more. A lot of us look at ourselves with a Photoshopper’s eye--searching for or focusing in on things that we want to change.
How different would we feel if our first look in the mirror each day could be one of appreciation? If the time we spent in front of the mirror was used to admire what we see instead of being used to wish for changes in what we see, I have a feeling that life would be more satisfying.
|Yeah, that's me. I couldn't resist. :)|
- Think about a picture of yourself as a little kid. Choose one of your favorites where your natural cuteness really shines through! Now, picture yourself talking to the little girl in the picture. Would you ever that child that she needs to lose a few pounds and get rid of her round cheeks? Or that her skin tone needs some work? Or that she’s too short/tall/fat/thin? Would you ever look at her and call her ugly or tell her she needs to burn more calories on the playground? I hope that the answer to those questions is no.
- Now look in the mirror and remember that you’re the same person as that little girl in the picture. Your body might not look the same, but your identity remains. If the thoughts you have in the mirror are not thoughts you would share with the little-girl version of yourself, then try and think of something you would be comfortable saying to a little girl to compliment her and help her feel good about herself. Those compliments don't have to be just about appearance. Try it! This little exercise has helped me to change my perspective and start seeing me, not just my reflection.
What else helps you to stop mentally photoshopping yourself? How do you cultivate a healthy body image?
Article by Jessica Croft