Tuesday, September 15, 2015

False Reality: Negative Effects of Photo Editing.

Madison Stricklin.

For as long as many members of this generation – and perhaps the one previous to this – it has become a well-known fact that photos that appear in magazines and other sources of media are airbrushed and altered to fit into an aesthetic. “Skies are made brighter, animals become flawless, grass is made to look greener and, in a recent issue of Women’s Health, sheep were made to look whiter” writes Christine Haughney of the New York Times. But when does altering stop being a heightened version of the truth?

Many magazines that include articles on fashion and make up and the like, models bodies are often changed to fit into the ideal image of beauty: female models will have wrinkles removed from their face, cheekbones accentuated, shoulders and waists and legs slimmed to unimaginable widths. Images of models are no longer real people but rather, a person created in a computer. There are often stories of images being created using different parts from different models. “Larry Hackett, editor in chief of People, said he follow the “wedding picture test,” allowing photo editors to remove crow’s feet and hairs that fall out of place” Haughney writes.

The before and after image of Faith Hill on the cover of Redbook Magazine
Source: Laddiez.com
There are plenty of images and videos spanning the Internet that show how bodies are easily manipulated to create a product that is obviously different from the original.

Global Democracy model before and after video, YouTube.

Because photo editing programs are so easily accessible and simple to use, anyone can edit a photograph and change various aspects of said photographs. Students in middle school and high school can access and learn how to use the plethora of programs that are available to tamper with images and upload them online to social media sights, for online editorial pages such as blogs and even edit images for their school paper or magazine if one exists in their curricular system. When students attend college, many of the library computers are already equipped with editing programs for students to use to their hearts content and once these students graduate university, they are already expecting to edit photos as part of the job description rather than just a possibility.

Creating these images can be harmful to readers  - especially young female readers. Media greatly influences that way young women (and sometimes older women as well) think and perceive themselves. When models on the hottest new edition of Teen Vogue or People magazine have a waist that is slimmer than life and the ladies reading said magazines have the average size 4 to size 6 waist, it can crush their self-esteem and lead to eating disorders aplenty.

Readers of these magazines are not the only one to be harmed from these images. The people who create said photos are also at stake. Photojournalist Allan Detrich was “forced out of the newsroom in disgrace” after tampering with art photos according to Ricchiardi’s story on the American Journalism Review. Because anyone can edit a photo, the temptation is there and can be overwhelming to some. For photojournalist that decide to go overboard can easily lose their credibility in a short period of time.

In the end, a set of guidelines should be put into place to help regulate photos that can be dispersed. Photographs and images should be believable and beautiful to prevent emotional harm to readers while also preserving the credibility of the photographers and photojournalists.

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