How many times have you stared at an advertisement, magazine cover or the fashion pages and wished you had hair, eyes, cheekbones, breasts, lips like the woman in the photo?
Sherilyn has the absolute best eyebrows. Very old Hollywood glamour. Looking at her, for the first time in my life I realised eyebrows could actually define a woman’s eyes and face. I became obsessed with how to make my naturally curved, but fine eyebrows dark and thick and peaked. I longed for her white pallor and cursed my freckly tan. I hold Sherilyn Fenn almost completely responsible for my over made-up goth like phase during my university years.
Now after watching the above video, I may not question Sherilyn’s eyebrows (they were ’80s authentic I’m sure), but I could definitely ask myself if great eyebrows on magazine covers exist at all. Is there an art to eyebrow styling or have I been lied to completely?
Retouching or Complete Fabrication?
I shouldn’t be so pithy about the subject of media image manipulation. At best, it uses lies to sell us products, at worse it encourages dangerous social stereotypes. Take the recent furore over the new Beyonce L’Oreal ads. The famous African-American singer is pictured not only with straight, reddish-blond hair, but her complexion is suspiciously whiter than usual. L’Oreal denies any wrong doing, but the spotlight is well and truly on photographic re-touching in advertising.
In fact, if this video is anything to go by, then the term “retouching” is a bit soft. This advertisement is pure IMAGE CREATION. The woman in the billboard barely resembles the woman who sat down in front of the camera.
I guess this is what Cindy Crawford meant when she said in 1993: “Even I don’t look like Cindy Crawford in the morning.”
Check out the iWANEX Studio – Professional Photo Retouching Services and click on their GALLERY section. You’ll be treated to a dozen or more images of famous celebrities and get to see what they REALLY look like. Going over the BEFORE and AFTER shots is a revelation. Not only are these gorgeous men and women aged backwards, slimmed down, given breast augmentation and de-freckled, but sometimes they’re even fattened up. Cameron Diaz is a perfect example.
I don’t even know why I am surprised at the extent of this illusion.
I worked in advertising and marketing in the ’90s and saw the start of photo retouching, even though it was nowhere near as extensive as it is today.
I do have one clear memory of a photo shoot for a nutritional supplement I was promoting. We needed an image of a naked woman’s back for the product label and advertisements, and our target market were women 30 and over. This was a problem because all the models we saw at the initial go-see were so thin their spines were raised out of their back and therefore we couldn’t use them to appeal to our target market.
In the end, we had a few girls who specialized in mens magazines come in because our art director said they should be a bit meatier. They were, and we eventually found the woman with the ‘perfect back’. The only problem was she had a large tattoo on her shoulder blade. “No worries,” said the art director. “We’ll photoshop it out.” And they did.
That was 1997. Eleven years on, they’d probably use a skinny model and just re-draw her spine and thicken her back so she looked right. I doubt they would have bothered to find a fatter model with a realistic body shape.
Unattainable beauty images are already a hot topic of discussion. But the extent of the image manipulation at iWANEX Studio indicates that the problem is a whole lot bigger than that.
Women and young girls are being fed images that are so doctored that they are about as real as an animated figure
Remember sexy Jessica Rabbit? I wanted her va va voom figure, long red hair and white skin as a girl, but I knew she was a cartoon. There was no illusion of reality. Is what we are seeing in print these days any more real than Jessica Rabbit?
What do you think? Should we expect some reality from the images of human beings that are plastered all over our buildings, buses, televisions, films and print media?
Below are some more interesting links on re-touching in advertisements: