Glamour Magazine Limits Photoshop Use
The controversy about retouching photographs isn't new. In an age where everyone has access to Photoshop, retouching photos is expected. Judging by the covers of many magazines, the world is full of physically perfect people — everyone, that is, except us. But lately questions have arisen about how much Photoshop is too much.
Now Glamour magazine has decided to rage against the Photoshop machine," as women's fashion website Refinery29.com cheekily put it. Glamour polled 1,000 of its readers, asking "How Much is Too Much?" "Only 43 percent of women said it was OK for magazines to retouch, and just 39 percent were comfortable with ads doing so," reported Glamour when the results were published in its February issue. In other word 60 percent don't want ads to mislead them with impossibly blond hair or spookily blue eyes. Another Gamour report finding revealed that "slimming a body to look even five pounds lighter" was approved by only 22 percent" of those polled — that's 78 percent opposed.
Based on this information, Glamour took a stance: "as your responses make clear, retouching has its limits—or should—and Glamour plans to take a stronger role in setting ours." A pimple or wrinkle may be removed, but making a celebrity impossibly thin or otherwise altering the face or physique of its models will no longer be tolerated at Glamour, even if the celebrity asks for it.
Glamour used these before and after photos to show the extent to which Photoshop can change an image.
It's good to see Glamour drawing a line. For a magazine that mocks real women in its "Do's and Don'ts" feature, it's a step in the right direction.
The examples of celebrities and models who have gone under the Photoshop-knife only to be unrecognizable or even disfigured are numerous. The Web is full of freakish photos of women missing hands or having Barbie-doll-sized waists. But we’re not talking about Photoshop butchery. It's the photos that are retouched by skilled artisans that are dangerous in that they relay perfection that is unobtainable for, well, almost everyone. When a famously fit woman like
Madonna is digitally altered you have to wonder how far is too far. Now we're telling girls that even if you are a slim, toned, yoga-loving superstar, it's still not good enough.
Adobe has long been aware of the issue. The American Medical Association adopted a policy that said, in part, that advertisers need to "discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image." When ABC News aired the report "Faking Beauty: Photoshopping Sends Unhealthy Message to America's Youth, AMA Says," Photoshop product management director Maria Yap wrote: "We at Adobe applaud the AMA for raising this issue so parents can be prepared to have open and honest dialogue with their children about body image and advertisers act responsibly."
In its 20-plus years, Photoshop has gone from creating unreal worlds to unreal expectations. But Photoshop is a creative tool and with it comes great responsibility. Glamour's Leive sums it up in the words of one interviewee: “Photoshop is like the Force. There’s a light side and a dark side.”