Posts tagged ‘photoshop’


Last week the bloggers at finally announced the winner of their unretouched cover photo image contest. The winner was Redbook’s July cover of Faith Hill. Check out this link to see exactly how much is changed:

Wrinkles under her eyes were removed, her right arm entirely disappears, her neck and back is made much skinnier, her left arm and cheeks are thinned out, even her earlobe is changed slightly.

The thing that really bothers me, and I’m convinced should bother everyone else, is the effect of retouching images like this. Women magazines make profits by including stories about how to look like models and celebrities when the celebrities don’t even look like that! People over exercise, over diet, have eating disorders and plastic surgery all to look like someone that nobody really looks like. No photo should be retouched for those reasons, and Hill’s photo never needed to be retouched because she still manages to look gorgeous in the real photo.

Jezebel tells another story about a “cover lie.” One featuring Oprah who extreme diets just to look great on the cover of Vogue. Oprah justified her dieting by telling the BBC that, “if you want to be on the cover of Vogue and Anna Wintour says you have to be down to 150 lbs – that’s what you gotta do… I didn’t think for one moment, ‘Now I’m going to be a Vogue model’ nore even did I think I could hold that weight.” Jezebel explains perfectly why this story, and the image lies that most magazines perpetuate, is so disturbing:

“…there was someting spooky beneath the Vogue image… namely, the idea that even a woman who had made her fortunate validating women’s strengths, hopes and dreams – and becoming one of the most powerful people on the planet in the process – would so eagerly and willingly help to perpetuate the ‘cover lie’ of a medium that has made its mark by invalidating women’s strenghts, hopes and dreams with an endless parade of stories on how to be thinner, sexier, trendier and – ughh – better in bed.”

Don’t think this stops with only women’s beauty magazines. My first post on this blog was of Andy Roddick on the cover of Men’s Health whose arms were not his own. Major newspapers and newsweeklies do this, too, in order to make pictures more dramatic or more sensational to grab readers attention. Perhaps a resurgence of yellow journalism? It certainly sounds similar, “little” exaggerations within stories versus “little” changes in photos. Either way it’s lying.

Remember that famous National Geographic pyramid picture? Digitally manipulated, too. Take a look – ( The two pyramids could never be pictured in a vertical frame in real life, so editors took the liberty of simply moving one pyramid closer to the other for the cover. Not such a big deal perhaps, but if a major national magazine that is (supposedly) dedicated to its reporting and photography can manipulate their photos, why wouldn’t every other news source if it might mean more profits and better photographs?

Or how about that Time OJ Simpson cover? ( The cover was Simpson’s mug shot, which appeared unaltered on Newsweek, but was changed on Time in order to make OJ appear darker and more sinister. In a country with African Americans comprise over 40% of prisoners (Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2002), Time’s deliberate decision to make OJ blacker plays directly into the unconsious stereotypes of many Americans.

Frankly, we are on a slippery slope when news is no longer credible to the public. Pictures are worth a thousand words, which makes tampering with images in magazines that much worse.

Check out this site for a listing of a bunch of the more famous doctored photographs starting in 1860! Also pick up a copy of Fred Ritchin’s “In Our Own Image” written in 1999. Though outdated, the book describes the history of doctoring images, how and why it is done and the social implications of such practices. Even glancing through the book will show you just how “normal” doctoring photos has become.


Jul 21, 2007 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment


Check out the latest issue of Men’s Fitness featuring Andy Roddick on the cover with some new arms. Men’s Fitness decided to Photoshop Andy’s arms to make them appear bigger and noticeably not his own. Andy Roddick admitted that he laughed at the photos, which are what most bloggers are doing as well. Most reactions from the public are disappointingly apathetic. It seems no one cares about doctored photos. While making someone’s arms look a little bigger to sell some magazines may not be such a big deal to an average citizen, but if doctoring photos becomes common practice throughout the media, as it has already become with celebrity magazines, it will slowly errode away the credibility of all journalism. When the media is no longer credible or transparent, can the public believe anything they are told by journalists?

Jun 11, 2007 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

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