As a graphic designer, I work with photography a lot. I do not work for a high-powered magazine, but I do work in an area where it is important to represent ourselves in the best way possible and our audience is nation-wide. I have photoshopped plenty of people and I know first-hand the types of drastic changes that can be made to an individual without the untrained eye ever noticing.
As a general rule, I do not make drastic changes in people's appearances. I have had requests for some "plastic surgery" from some folks who know their photo is going to be featured prominently, but for the most part, I do not alter people to the point of them being unrecognizable. But, I do get rid of blemishes or zits and tone down birthmarks and wrinkles - things of that nature. Those who request extra photoshopping usually have a wonky tooth or a double chin that they would like tightened up a bit.
Even though I am not altering people as much as Cosmo and GQ do, in the end, it's still a world of pearly white teeth, glimmering intense eyes, and smooth skin.
I have come to appreciate people's flaws. There is nothing like having a photo of someone (most of the time they are about 15 years younger than me) blown up at 600% on your screen. You see every single flaw and pour and realize that no one is perfect no matter what age they are.
I wish everyone knew that what we see everyday is a lie. The billboards, the magazines, even the photographs of food in your favorite recipes magazine, has been altered. Wrinkles are removed - skin is tanned and smoothed - legs, arms, necks and waistlines are reduced while chests are enlarged - butts and lips are made more vuluptuous - lashes are lengthened and multiplied ... the list of modifications is never-ending.
This doesn't just apply to the women - it applies to the men in advertising as well. They are just as altered as the women! And I think men are just as negatively affected by the false portrayals in the media.
I wish that high schools around America would begin to teach this to teenagers. I wish they had a program especially for 15 to 17 year olds that taught them the realities of what they see. Something that told the girls that they don't have to be perfect to be a real woman and something that taught the boys that they don't have to be Machismo to be a real man.
Luckily, I think that most adults are catching on to these everyday lies that we see in the media. There has been quite a bit of talk about it and each time a celebrity points out that they don't really look like their magazine cover, it helps get the message across.
I think it's a shame that so many young people grow up with the pressure to be these perfect men and women we see everywhere we go. They spend so much time emulating others that they don't know how to be themselves. They don't know how to have their own personality, style, or interests anymore. They are afraid that being different will make them an outcast. I see it everyday where I live - students walking around with the same fad styles on, the same purses, the same shoes, the same hair...they are cookie cutter people. It's normal that most people follow the trend, but I see fewer and fewer kids breaking out of the molds.
I definitely think that advancements in technology and media have brought this around. Media has infiltrated every part of our lives and the newer generations don't know a world without it, so will they be forever changed? Forever insecure about themselves? I hope not.
I truly hope that one day people will get tired of the so-called "glamour" that is pushed at them from every angle and become more grounded and realistic about themselves and the others around them. Hopefully for the newer generations, age and maturity will help them see the nonsense of it all.
I'm glad I grew up in the 80's. As an obese child, I don't know how well I would have been able to deal with all the "perfect" people on TV and in magazines and all the talk about "childhood obesity" in the news. I think that latter subject alone, would have made me feel TERRIBLE. I knew I was a lot bigger than everyone else, but I was never called out on it. If I were growing up now, I would feel like people on TV were targeting me and making fun of me. I would be so much more self-conscience than I was growing up in the 80's.
I leave you with the video that sparked my commentary today. My friend posted this on FB today and it really made me think about this issue.