Airbrush Schmairbrush

Happy Friday, RLBers!

Today we will examine everyone’s favorite contentious modern beauty issue: Photoshop. Since the practice has become ubiquitous in the last decade or so, Photoshop has its proponents, its critics, and those of us who fall somewhere in the realm of ambivalence.

Yes, I am ambivalent about Photoshop. The visceral, Real Beauty Champion part of me dismisses it out of hand, as a tool that compromises and distorts our perception of reality. The part of me that appreciates Photoshop is best summarized by your best friend, Tina Fey:

“Feminists do the best Photoshop, because they leave the meat on your bones. They don’t change your size or your skin color. They leave your disgusting knuckles, but they take out some armpit stubble. Not because they’re denying its existence, but because they understand that it’s okay to make a photo look as if you were caught on your best day in the best light.”

It’s why we all Instagram and Infinicam and Photo Splash flattering, flaw-hiding filters to every picture we tweet or post on Facebook. We want to be seen at our very best, and the modern era allows us to do that at every digital turn.

It’s when photo editing goes to extremes that it becomes a fundamental problem in how beauty is presented. Every woman featured in that slideshow looks amazing in her Before picture, but we have been conditioned to think that they don’t look Amazing Enough. God forbid we acknowledge that Jessica Alba has loose flesh on her kneecaps, or that Eva Longoria is Hispanic but she doesn’t have bangin’ hips, or that Kanye West’s girlfriend isn’t actually Jessica Rabbit brought to fleshy life in an impossible combination of buxom/compact, or that – come on now, she’s 54 and has spent half her life on tour – Madonna is aging. (Who else thinks Megan Fox the “actress” actually looks far prettier with her freckles sprinkled across her nose? Why are we so afraid of letting women look human?)

With all of the attention around image retouching, it still makes headlines when models or celebrities ‘allow’ themselves to be photographed without it, or without the benefit of professional hair/makeup stylists. Imagine a world in which women without makeup and  photos of women that haven’t been (or have minimally been) manipulated are unremarkable. Commonplace. The images we see all day every day. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Let’s contribute to making this hypothetical future a reality! Here are some 100% real pictures of me, as I am right now, sitting here writing this post. I have shadows under my eyes and crooked teeth and crows feet when I smile. I also have killer cheekbones and charming freckles and my eyes are a cool shade of gray today.

Photo on 3-15-13 at 11.19 AM #3 Photo on 3-15-13 at 11.20 AM


Share your real pictures with us! Post on our Facebook page, tweet them to us, or share a link here in the comments. Shower the interwebs with real pictures of real ladies looking really lovely. 

xo, E

3 thoughts on “Airbrush Schmairbrush

  1. I am also ambivalent. Photoshop is awesome in so many ways, and who doesn’t want to look perfect? But most of the alterations are totally unnecessary, and almost all the original photos are perfectly lovely. I wonder about the lowered expectations from photographers as well. Developing correct/flattering lighting and composition techniques used to be hard earned skills, and now it seems like a lot of photogs rely heavily on digital tools, possibly at the expense of their craft.

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