In Protest of Photoshop
November 6, 2014 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Keira Knightley, among other stars, is sick of being Photoshopped. She posed topless in Interview Magazine in protest of the unfair body image standards thrust upon women.

"I think women's bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame," Knightley said. “I’ve had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it’s paparazzi photographers or for film posters.”
posted by ourt (128 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 


It's funny how much joy I feel in seeing unphotoshopped photos of women's bodies. Knightly's boobs couldn't look less like mine in the specifics, but I sort of want to do a happy dance at seeing their asymmetry. It's just that lovely little feeling of recognition, which I never get from an edited photo.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 PM on November 6, 2014 [21 favorites]


It's just nice to know that it's uncomfortable for famous people to be inadvertently told that their actual body isn't "good looking enough" to go unchanged.

I grew up consuming magazines at a haphazard pace, and all the pent up inadequacy I'd felt as a tween and early adolescent manifested itself into an eating disorder.

It's not like the need for this shit to stop is any revelatory statement, but here's hoping it gains a bit more traction than the usual "'This should stop...' hahaha nah."
posted by ourt at 10:18 PM on November 6, 2014


I don't know, I mean, I agree with the sentiment, but even without retouching, Keira Knightly is model-skinny, I'm not sure this doesn't add to "unfair body image standards", despite the intention.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:25 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have a relative that had a picture taken with her daughter. The photographer offered to 'touch it up' for her, and after doing so the two looked the same age - it was pretty creepy, honestly (her daughter is a young adult).

Looking at this picture the photoshopping that was done makes the subject unrecognizable.

Magazines are so intent to have 'beautiful people' on their covers; the end result is that the images represent people that don't actually exist. Magazines covers are filled with fictional representations.

If famous people just put their foot down - 'don't change my body/face/appearance' or I won't ever give another interview or subject myself to your magazine again.

sigh.
posted by el io at 10:28 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


But I only feel perfect if I superimpose a lamprey mouth over my face.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:30 PM on November 6, 2014 [37 favorites]


Please don't take my magic
posted by louche mustachio at 10:30 PM on November 6, 2014 [23 favorites]


I actually had a nightmare last night about putting on makeup and then looking in the mirror and realizing that I had turned into a ceramic doll. I am a 35 year old chubby male.

Yes, Kiera Knightly has the advantage of being naturally beautiful, but in those photos she looks like other naturally beautiful woman I have known, rather than like a member of some fictional race of magazine-women.
posted by 256 at 10:36 PM on November 6, 2014 [26 favorites]


Aerie (American Eagle's lingerie brand) stopped photoshopping models and their sales went up 9%.

I can't say I'm particularly familiar with the brand, and they are still super-thin very hot models, but just looking at the pictures it's so charming to see bellies and freckles and the squishies that your skin gets when you bend to the side.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:43 PM on November 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


Why would anyone want to get rid of tummies?

Put a hand on a tummy and you will know that that is ridiculous.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:49 PM on November 6, 2014 [18 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: "I don't know, I mean, I agree with the sentiment, but even without retouching, Keira Knightly is model-skinny, I'm not sure this doesn't add to "unfair body image standards", despite the intention."

Her body is lean and she does not have large breasts, and she would like magazines to quit augmenting her rack for her.

The world of "unfair body image standards" is not a simple binary of skinny vs not-skinny.
posted by desuetude at 10:58 PM on November 6, 2014 [141 favorites]


"I think women's bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame,"

Curse the man who invented photography! Curse Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre!
posted by FJT at 11:10 PM on November 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


Guys, can we all agree that Lorde is the best? Like the utter best. Her and Taylor Swfit should combine ages and become president.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:21 PM on November 6, 2014 [18 favorites]


What desuetude said.

As women, we're presented with these completely impossible ideas of what our bodies are supposed to look like. The vast majority of women who are "model thin" have small breasts like Knightley's, and probably narrow hips, flat butts, etc. However, with photoshop (and before photoshop with other retouching methods, makeup, strategic photo composition, etc) it's easy to simply create a fictional perfect woman who is somehow both slim and also curvy. Thus perpetuating an impossible image for women to aspire to -- even women who are already very attractive!

There are also a lot of women who fixate on weird "flaws" that bodies just have by virtue of being bodies. I recently heard my mom -- who is a size 2! -- complaining about having back fat, because she was wearing spanx under a dress (to hide her "cellulite"!) and the spanx pushed a little skin upwards, creating a sort of fleshy ridge. We're not two dimensional drawings. We're humans! Our bodies obey the laws of physics! When advertisers* edit out these basic human realities, it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole of obsession even if you already have what's considered the ideal body type.

*In addition to literal advertising images, it's worth realizing that most magazines are really just a large collection of images meant to advertise products. The editorial spreads, celebrity covers, etc are every bit as much advertising as the specific ad pages are.
posted by Sara C. at 11:21 PM on November 6, 2014 [24 favorites]


Also, I think blaming photoshop, or even photography, is a red herring.

I mean have you seen some of the preposterous fashion drawings that are out there?

The problem is with the entire model of using images to sell products by convincing women we're not good enough.
posted by Sara C. at 11:25 PM on November 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


I mean, I think the problem is with *society in general,* but that's just a tad harder to address.
posted by ourt at 11:28 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is it really, though? It's not like it's really possible to "ban photoshop" or anything like that. Not to mention that even if you could, it wouldn't accomplish anything, since all of this predates photoshop by, well, probably as far back as the Gibson girls.

Better to just tell it like it is, rather than bloviating about "photoshop". I mean, I draw comics in photoshop. It's just a program.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 PM on November 6, 2014


Truth is beauty
But beauty is not always truth.
posted by FJT at 11:40 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


If the advertising industry could be persuaded to eschew the dishonest manipulation of human suggestibility, many social ills would lessen. I don't have a fart's chance in a high wind of making it do that, but I can at least keep much of its output away from any digital device connected to my own LAN.

If anybody thinks there's a market for a sub-$100 no-brainer appliance built from commodity parts and open-source software that does the same job when plugged onto any LAN, I'm more than happy to design it for free.
posted by flabdablet at 11:49 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


'photoshop' doesn't really mean the program these days. It's a generic term used to refer to a photo-editing program in general.

I'm sure Adobe isn't happy with that, but Adobe is an awful company, so let them have their trademark diluted. If they get all upset about their trademark dilution, just hand them a kleenex.
posted by el io at 11:57 PM on November 6, 2014 [40 favorites]


I proposed here on metafilter a while ago that each and every adult person in the world should just go ahead and post a pic of themselves naked from the neck down and be done with it.
posted by vapidave at 12:06 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Can a mod fix the spelling of Knightley's surname in the post (or does the OP have to request that)?
posted by narain at 12:08 AM on November 7, 2014


[Spelling fixed, carry on.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 12:11 AM on November 7, 2014


Keira Knightley is surely in a position to insist routinely on a 'no manipulation' clause when agreeing to photos. Of course that's not a solution, even for her, but it would surely help. If she can't be bothered, how serious is she?
posted by Segundus at 12:12 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Put a hand on a tummy and you will know that that is ridiculous.

"It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same."
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:18 AM on November 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


Personal experience says that's largely a matter of training.
posted by flabdablet at 12:19 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Knightley seems like a good egg, and I agree with her... but her un-Photoshopped photos look like a Vogue spread. The woman was BORN Photoshopped.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:29 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't have any issue with minor retouching, like hiding a zit. But entirely reshaping a woman's body seems too much to me. Good for Knightley, and better if this leads to a norm of leaving photographs closer to reality.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:57 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


But entirely reshaping a woman's body seems too much to me.

Escher Girls also provides illuminating commentary on this issue, in re comics.

(Escher Girls previously.)
posted by chavenet at 2:49 AM on November 7, 2014


The process of using photoshop to create distorted - and more importantly - unachievable bodies in all kinds of media is insidious and far reaching.

It's the slow drip, drip, drip of body dissatisfaction that leads to all kinds of self image problems for men and women everywhere.

I'm glad Ms Knightley is making a stand, but I am cynical enough to think this won't really make a difference.

From green screening of 'normal' scenes on TV and movies to unrealistic application of photoshop techniques it's all industry standard now.

It's too late to change it, and the people who make money using those techniques don't want to change it because of their vested interest.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:41 AM on November 7, 2014


For those complaining that Knightley was born gorgeous, that is true. However, having a good photographer goes a long way on its own. Before or after pictures without Photoshop.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:44 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Recently, I was in the check out line in the grocery store and I just couldn't help it. I just busted out laughing. When the lady in front of me asked what I found so funny, I grabbed a magazine off the display rack featuring a photo of the actress Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, Secret Life of an American Teenager) with her hand on her hip and dropped the issue onto the conveyor belt.

"Go ahead. Try to trace her waist line with your finger," I challenged. (She may have strained her hand in the attempt.) Either that photo was severely shopped above and below her hand or the real story here is that Ms. Woodley has been in a very traumatic automobile accident. I'm really tempted to start a blog where people can send get well messages to these poor mangled celebrities.
posted by dances with hamsters at 4:47 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


So if the magazines do this because it's profitable, and aren't going to stop on their own, how about we stop buying the magazines? It's not like anyone needs glossy, bound volumes of advertisements and body-shaming.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:53 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Won't our economy collapse without her photoshopped boobs? This is making me nervous, what's next?
posted by oceanjesse at 4:58 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Segundus, no. Very, very few if any actors and actresses have enough clout to insist on no photo manipulation. Do you know how many avenues photos go through before reaching magazines, news agencies, etc? Having worked at both, I guarantee that the design dpts at each do not ever receive instructions like, "hey, this celeb says don't touch her up" because no one in the design dpts answers to that celeb. They answer to creative directors and producers who insist on swapping heads to different bodies, completely restructuring people's faces and waists, and emphasizing whatever platonic ideal of beauty they've set for their organization.

Knightley has been campaigning against this for more than a decade. Pretty sure that she means it. Your comment, though, reeks of victim blaming. "How serious is she", indeed.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:06 AM on November 7, 2014 [63 favorites]


"It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same."

Fernando Botero would like a word with you.
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:12 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fernando Botero would like a word with you.

Well, with Quinten Tarentino, surely.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 AM on November 7, 2014


Silly Quentin.
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:30 AM on November 7, 2014


Personal experience says that's largely a matter of training.
posted by flabdablet at 12:19 AM on November 7 
[1 favorite +]     [!]


This this this. Im in the "personal responsibility" camp, and even though it may have been the media, or your parents, or peers or whatever thats taught you problematic bullshit, I believe that everyone has the responsibility to unlearn racism, sexism, misogyny.
A couple years ago I started folowing body-positive blogs, where basically theyre just normal pictures of normal people, and wooo boy. Has my perception changed. on tv now when the guy gets set up on a blind date with the "ugly chick", every time, I think "shes not ugly! Shes just....normal!" I mean, it was truly shocking to see how I used to subconsciously percieve peoples bodies. (I dont know if it matters, it probably does. Im not super attractive or model esque in any way. Im fat, for one.)


I really believe that digitally chopping up womens bodies to use as a weapon of advertising, causing generations of sad girls who starve and hate themselves, its an act of violence.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:49 AM on November 7, 2014 [13 favorites]


So if the magazines do this because it's profitable, and aren't going to stop on their own, how about we stop buying the magazines? It's not like anyone needs glossy, bound volumes of advertisements and body-shaming.


Don't worry, we've already stopped.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 5:50 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Knightly's boobs couldn't look less like mine in the specifics, but I sort of want to do a happy dance at seeing their asymmetry.

Friend of mine's ex-wife apparently had lopsided breasts. She complained it made buying bras impossible and caused her self-image problems. She wanted to get the issue surgically fixed. Her husband said, "Well, before I get out the checkbook, are you wanting to make the big one small or the small one big?"

Notce I wrote ex-wife.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:26 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


While I definitely do not have small boobs, I appreciate that Knightley's boobs are asymmetrical as well as my own. It's a little thing, but knowing that even famous people have normal body flaws like the rest of us is nice.
posted by Kitteh at 6:29 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Guys, can we all agree that Lorde is the best?

Well, this is the best and if it weren't for Lorde it wouldn't exist, so I thank her.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:30 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, I sympathize with Ms. Knightly. I am sick of people photoshopping me. In my early days, it was called 'airbrushing'. It needs to just stop.
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 6:31 AM on November 7, 2014


I proposed here on metafilter a while ago that each and every adult person in the world should just go ahead and post a pic of themselves naked from the neck down and be done with it.

I believe we are halfway there
posted by any major dude at 6:31 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Friend of mine's ex-wife apparently had lopsided breasts

most, if not all, women have asymmetrical breasts.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 AM on November 7, 2014 [32 favorites]


"remember flaws are ok" -from the Lorde tweets

I have to disagree here on a matter of semantics. Flaws are certainly NOT ok. Flaws are by definition things that are wrong and need correction. That said, acne and big asses are NOT flaws any more than the hue or tone of ones skin or hair or eyes or asymetrical breasts or any other superficial characteristic.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:40 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can totally understand editing of the "please remove the giant pimple on my chin" variety, because I think we can all be trusted to know that pimples happen, but on the other hand I think a lot of us would prefer not to be captured permanently that way, because it just increases the tendency to fixate on cosmetics and such instead. Make the color of my roots a little less noticeable so I can have another week before coloring again? Yay. Don't sweat the small stuff; fix it in post, as it were. But things have gone so far beyond that, and why do we need to edit beautiful women to make them somebody else's idea of beautiful? I have a Hangouts interview this morning. I want to look my best self. I don't want to look like someone else because if they hire me, this is the person they're getting. The person they keep trying to make Keira Knightley look like doesn't look like Keira Knightley, and when you think some fictional version of a woman is prettier than an actual real woman, there's a problem with standards.
posted by Sequence at 6:43 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


A couple years ago I started folowing body-positive blogs, where basically theyre just normal pictures of normal people, and wooo boy. Has my perception changed.

Can you say which blogs?
posted by jeather at 6:47 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Photoshop is superfluous, anyway. If you actually want a picture of yourself that doesn't look like how you actually are, look in your wallet. Your local Department of Motor Vehicles is happy to oblige.
posted by delfin at 6:50 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


most, if not all, women have asymmetrical breasts.

Asking out of total ignorance here: Enough to create problems? None of the women I'd know well enough to go bra shopping with (admittedly my sample size is fairly small) ever complained about not being able to find bras. None of them ever complained they were different (sometimes too small or big, but never because they were asymmetrical).

I realize anything can create body images, but I would imagine there would have to be an appreciable difference for one to consider surgery. No?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:50 AM on November 7, 2014


My asymmetrical breasts do cause me some trouble, especially at certain times of my cycle when the bigger one gets big enough to not fit properly in some of my bras. Now, I've never considered surgery, but back when I wasn't wearing properly fitted bras to begin with (because Victoria's Secret et al don't know a damn thing about bra sizing and just want to get you into the narrow range of sizes they sell), the problem was exacerbated. I could see how the combo of asymmetry + maybe a poorly fitting bra to begin with + a particular sensitivity to the issue could lead a woman to consider surgery.
posted by misskaz at 7:01 AM on November 7, 2014


the asymmetry is more obvious in larger breasts, i've found, but yeah, it's super common. also, if you google asymmetrical breasts most of the results are plastic surgeons offering to "fix" them. not all asymmetries are full on different sizes but an asymmetry of some kind is there in the majority of women. another thing about boobs that i think a fair number of men don't realize is that they change sizes throughout the month and can even require different bras from one week to the next.
posted by nadawi at 7:03 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty irritated at the link above about the Aerie lingere line not photoshopping their models - they are on the right track but the framing is still so problematic - "imperfections are visible." I see no imperfections in those models.
posted by agregoli at 7:11 AM on November 7, 2014


I have to disagree here on a matter of semantics. Flaws are certainly NOT ok. Flaws are by definition things that are wrong and need correction.

No way. Flaws are also often called character. I prefer flawed wines over a perfect bottle. I want something that makes it stand out. Who wants perfection?

Almost everything I love is flawed, and there's nothing wrong with the things I love, nor do they need corrected.

Embrace your flaws!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:14 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Flawed...wines? Not sure what that means, I'm curious...
posted by agregoli at 7:19 AM on November 7, 2014


Knightley reminds me so much of an ex of mine that it creeps me out. And now I know that they have something else in common, which leads me to wonder if one of both of them are products of a eugenics program.

It makes me very sad, being obliged to tell perfectly lovely women that some aspect or other of their appearance doesn't detract from their beauty. I don't know what to do to protect my daughter from this sickness.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:33 AM on November 7, 2014


*cough* we could return to illustrated covers if we're going to alter them this much anyway just sayin'
posted by The Whelk at 7:37 AM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Flawed...wines? Not sure what that means, I'm curious...

Generally it's a one that's too bright, or too dry, or the flavor profile is weak or strong. Sometimes they are way too sweet or just not quite the alcohol content you would like. Basically any wine that makes you say, "This wine would be a great wine if only it were a little more X."

There's probably an allegory in there about personal appearances as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:38 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Keira Knightley is surely in a position to insist routinely on a 'no manipulation' clause when agreeing to photos. Of course that's not a solution, even for her, but it would surely help. If she can't be bothered, how serious is she?

I don't think there's a celebrity alive who is in a position to demand their photographs never be manipulated digitally.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:41 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Knightley reminds me so much of an ex of mine that it creeps me out. And now I know that they have something else in common, which leads me to wonder if one of both of them are products of a eugenics program.

You really need to watch Never Let Me Go.
posted by mochapickle at 7:42 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


This year my wife finally got around to watching Knightley in Pride and Prejudice. I got hooked into it. It took a little while to get past the notion that "Elizabeth" was supposed to be plain and not a great beauty and the fact that even without makeup Keira Knightly is stunning.

Bravo for her for taking a stand on photo manipulation but I doubt if it will stop anyone, especially the tabs, from doing it.
posted by Ber at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2014


There's probably an allegory in there about personal appearances as well.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun...
posted by metaBugs at 7:59 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


we could return to illustrated covers if we're going to alter them this much anyway just sayin'

We've gotta be less then a decade away from being able to computer-generate celebrity photos that are at least as "good" as some of the photoshop monstrosities already on the covers of magazines.
posted by straight at 8:03 AM on November 7, 2014


Someone in my office has started bringing their used copies of Cosmo/Seventeen/etc in and leaving them in the office kitchen. While I appreciate the gesture ("Oh hey someone might want something to read while they eat lunch"), it has made me really sad to see the covers and read all the horrifying article teasers. Somehow I'm able to tune them all out when I'm in line at the grocery store, but seeing a single magazine on an otherwise empty table is much harder to ignore.

Someone else in the office is not happy with them, and she keeps flipping the magazines over so they are face down. My male colleagues, who are pretty decent dudes, think this is hilarious and keep flipping them back. I think they see it as prudishness - not wanting to see a nearly-naked Megan Fox or whatever. I haven't bothered to try to explain to them that I agree with the magazine flipper because seeing those images and reading those headlines is soul-destroying.
posted by misskaz at 8:04 AM on November 7, 2014 [18 favorites]


wow, misskaz - that bummed me out. I would prob start ripping those covers off, myself. Men often just do not get it.
posted by agregoli at 8:07 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


> *cough* we could return to illustrated covers

It wasn't just the covers that were drawn/painted. My mom painted fashion ads for the Atlanta newspapers (especially the Sunday color magazine section) before I was born, at a time when almost nobody used photos except in small ads placed by small stores, that ran buried in the back pages. This applied even to kids' clothes.

She wasn't famous but she was very, very good. I would give a great deal to have more of her original work than I do. I don't have much of it because you handed in the illo to the client (usually a big department store) and they sent it to their ad section for paste-up, and that was the last you ever saw of it. You never got it back. Considered "work for hire," I guess.

> if we're going to alter them this much anyway just sayin'

The biggest part of what new hires right out of art school didn't know and had to learn was a very long list of accepted conventions for art of this kind. "Legs that go on forever"? This is where that came from, along with lots of other conventions you may never have given any thought to. Separate lists of conventions for women, men, boys, and girls.
posted by jfuller at 8:09 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


When I first saw this this morning, the first thing that popped into my head is how many Photoshop contests it will spawn. "Make Keira Work-Safe" for instance.

(I actually think comedy Photoshop contests, while they've lost their humor value a great deal since they first hit the internet, have the potential to help show people how ridiculous 'shopping for commercial purposes is. And often the pranksters do a better job.)
posted by Foosnark at 8:11 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


To those saying she's skinny and beautiful so it isn't really a big deal, that has nothing to do with Keira Knightley's self esteem. Whether we're skinny or fat, we're taught to reject and hate our body image from the moment we're born. Just because Keira is slim, doesn't mean she has always/does love her body.
posted by shesbenevolent at 8:19 AM on November 7, 2014 [19 favorites]


Many years ago I worked at a small gas station in a well to do area. It was typically very slow, especially in the mornings on weekends. Like 4-5 customers in the actual store over the course of 4 hours. One of my many time passers was to read the magazines we sold. It was very depressing but taught me a lot about why I never read Cosmo, US weekly, People, etc.

There is no point to this story other than to express my sadness. I did know everything to know about Lindsey Lohan though.

I did learn that occasionally GQ actually gives a really good interview (famously I remember the a really good one with the elusive Bill Murray)
posted by Twain Device at 8:24 AM on November 7, 2014


I remember seeing her interviewed about the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and her joking about the costume people working so hard to give her cleavage and not having much to work with. I imagined her standing there while several costume designers looked at her body, frowned, and talked about "How can we make this work?"
posted by straight at 8:26 AM on November 7, 2014


It was amazing how much my self-esteem improved when I stopped buying regular women's magazines. (I would say "reading" but there is so little actual text in those things that they're just picture books.) They can all die in a fire. The only "women's magazines" I'll touch are Bust , Ms. and Bitch.

Seventeen should be banned, especially for anyone raising a girl. That thing is like a Learn to Hate Your Body 101 class. I can still remember reading it as a 12-year old, realizing that I weighed more than the "teen" girl featured in the article, and feeling terrible and hideous and gross. I was not a fat kid then, by the way. I was tall for my age, and she was probably underweight for hers. But it didn't matter, the damage was done. In my own mind, I would always be fat from then on regardless of my actual weight.
posted by emjaybee at 8:27 AM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


As president of the itty-bitty-titty committee (and as an actor, who is working on not apologizing so much to costume designers when they realize their sexy cleavage boosting bustiers won't do a thing on me), I'm immensely cheered by this.
posted by stray at 8:27 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think blaming photoshop, or even photography, is a red herring.

Pretty much. I agree with the sentiment here and a lot of the magazines marketed at women are completely disgusting, but I think the blame is misplaced. I shoot for magazines and do retouching professionally so these discussions are interesting to me. I don't do any fashion/beauty work at all - I shoot normal people - and generally I do what I can do make them look their best, depending on the assignment. Doing that requires making a million choices about lighting, composition, posing, concept, color palette, hair & makeup, etc. I spend more money to produce some random 1/4 page portrait of a business guy than most people spend on their entire wedding photography package. I bring a truck full of equipment and a crew of people, I shoot thousands of frames of which maybe 1 or 2 will get printed. I can make day look like night or night like day, I can make my subjects look young and sweet or hardened and evil. The "manipulation" that I do to my images has nothing to do with photoshop, by the time my retoucher gets it those choices have already been made and we're just polishing the color or removing a stray hair that's distracting. I don't rebuild people's faces or bodies. I don't need to because I can make the subject look like whatever I want by controlling the light and composition, and I will go to great lengths and expense to have that control. That's my job.

But people see my work and they don't understand all of that or know what went into making it. They just assume I pressed a few buttons in Photoshop and that's why my photos in the magazines look better than what they get out of their cameras. Just like people are saying this portrait of Kiera Knightley is "unphotoshopped" even though it is clearly highly controlled AND highly retouched. "No Photoshop" in this context doesn't mean no Photoshop, it means no Liquify tool. Which leads me to my next tangent...

I don't think there's a celebrity alive who is in a position to demand their photographs never be manipulated digitally.

This is simply not possible and is an example of the kind of misunderstanding of what a photograph actually is. We used to have negatives, now we have RAW files. Either way, the image is latent until you develop it and make a print (or process the RAW - which honestly is where most of the digital work is done and this is before you ever bring it into Photoshop - where's the hate for Capture One?). There is no such thing as an image that has not been "manipulated" whether it's film or digital because it is a conscious process to make an actual image from the information in the capture, much less whatever you did to make that capture.

A photograph is not a record or document, despite having a mechanical component to the process, it's the same as putting ink to canvas or pencil to paper. Which is not to defend the terrible shit they do to these images of women and they way they are sold, I just wanted to shed some light on what goes into photographs at this level and why "photoshop is evil" is not a constructive way of approaching this problem in the media.
posted by bradbane at 8:39 AM on November 7, 2014 [32 favorites]


Also, Keira did a good interview with the photographer.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:39 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


This makes me happy. Even inordinately attractive people like Keira Knightley are not exempt from having impossible beauty standards imposed upon them, and that shit needs to stop.
posted by Librarypt at 8:41 AM on November 7, 2014


When I first saw this this morning, the first thing that popped into my head is how many Photoshop contests it will spawn. "Make Keira Work-Safe" for instance.

I sincerely hope this would involve photoshopping safety goggles and hardhats on her.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:52 AM on November 7, 2014 [22 favorites]


Hear, hear bradbane. It's amazing how many misperceptions people have of your craft.

Also:

I guarantee that the design dpts at each do not ever receive instructions like, "hey, this celeb says don't touch her up" because no one in the design dpts answers to that celeb. They answer to creative directors and producers who insist on swapping heads to different bodies, completely restructuring people's faces and waists, and emphasizing whatever platonic ideal of beauty they've set for their organization.

It's the client/marketing department that makes the final call on those things. Creative directors and producers are usually part of the design department. We all answer to the client (who, agreed is not the celeb, but everyone blames creative when they get het up about "advertising")
posted by sweetkid at 8:55 AM on November 7, 2014


People who say "photoshop is evil" are not actually saying that any professional techniques applied to the lighting, wardrobe, taking of, selection of, and even post-processing manipulation of photographs should be banned. To me that's a reaction to a strawman. In this case "photoshop" is actually shorthand for "dramatically altering the bodies of (almost always) women in magazines to reach standards of beauty/thinness/flawlessness that are not only unattainable by even the celebrities and models themselves but that defy all concepts of reasonableness (i.e. when you bend to one side somehow your skin doesn't fold.)" But that's a bit wordy so people say "photoshop."

I do find stark, no-retouching, no-makeup photos of celebrities to be helpful for grounding my own body image issues in reality, even if they remain well lit and well shot. The totally unprofessional instagram-type selfies are good for that too. But I don't think anyone is claiming that spreads in magazines can't look good or be altered, just that we wish those alterations were based on more realistic and healthy standards.
posted by misskaz at 9:14 AM on November 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


There is no such thing as an image that has not been "manipulated"

That's true, but too many people move from that to the absurd position that there's no way to make any meaningful distinction between an image like the one Knightley has just released and the heavily retouched fare typically found in magazine celebrity shoots. It's like saying "it's impossible for anybody to tell the whole truth, therefore there is no such thing as a lie."

Contrary to what you say above, a photograph is a document. That it's a document which inevitably to some extent distorts or selectively represents its subject makes it exactly the same as every other kind of "document" in the world. That fact, however, does not mean that it is impossible to distinguish between those inevitable distortions and those which are imposed deliberately in order to either suppress information (the removal of politically inconvenient facts, for example, or the removal or distortion of currently deprecated bodily features) or to import information which was not, in fact, "documented" in the original image.
posted by yoink at 9:16 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't think the concentration on the tools is entirely misplaced. The choice of what tools you're going to include in your toolbox and which you're going to consciously decline to use is a fairly important part of the artistic process.

There's a long tradition in photography of the pursuit of the "straight photograph", which is a bit of an ideal rather than a realizable thing, but that doesn't mean that the pursuit is without merit.

Stieglitz and others recognized this enough to start an entire movement based around rejecting chemical-darkroom retouching techniques. The fact that all photography is by definition mechanical doesn't make a rejection of certain techniques any less meaningful.

That said, I don't think that "ban Photoshop" is the answer. A photographer who makes a conscious, self-directed decision not to futz around in post is very different from someone who gets one of their toys forcibly taken away from them. You can achieve the same distortive ends that people achieve via the Liquefy or Clone tools via other methods, if Photoshop isn't available, if you want to. The difference is in the wanting to vs. not wanting to. Similarly, if you have decided to go for "straight photography", it's not necessarily dishonest to load the file into Photoshop to take out a bad sensor pixel, IMO. (There are people who would perhaps disagree with that, but they probably don't own cameras with bad pixels, so screw them.)

I'd like to see less heavyhanded use made of Photoshop in commercial photography, but that's a change that has to happen all along the chain. It seems like there's increasing public interest in more 'honest' photography, which is trickling down, but I'd imagine it's very hard to step away from an attitude to "make everything look perfect, always" if that's what you've been doing basically forever. Particularly since that has set viewers' expectations unrealistically high: it takes a lot of bravery to be willing, much less insistent, on stepping in front of the camera when you know it's not going to be reworked until you look perfect. Knightley deserves a lot of credit for that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:17 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Knightley did something decent and pretty brave, and I respect her for it. I wasn't going to bother to comment here as I don't think I have anything new to say about her.

But then Tig Notaro did this last night, and this seems like a good place to bring it to your attention:
Del Close, the guru of modern improv comedy, was known for imparting instructions that were halfway between koans and clichés. One was “Don’t Think.” Another was “Follow the Fear.” Notaro’s shirtless performance was a textbook illustration of what these phrases mean, and why they are good advice.
posted by maudlin at 9:18 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Tina Fey has a bit in her book "Bossypants" about Photoshop. She compares Photoshop to makeup in that only the truly gifted can have professional photos done without it but if you use too much, you end up looking like a crazy person.
posted by mhum at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


> most, if not all, women have asymmetrical breasts

Hefty lefty, righty lighty... is that just for right-handed women?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2014


It's the client/marketing department that makes the final call on those things.

That's the thing. The second Kiera Knightley places a "No Retouching" clause in her contract, that's the moment none of the Hollywood studios will ever call her again. (In re the many movie ads where Knightley has been given cleavage.) Because the movie is the product. And the marketing department doesn't care about some actress' political stance, they care about selling that movie.

I'm sure the same is true if Knightley is shilling fashion or perfume or whatever else. She is not the product. Burberry is the product. The people whose job it is to sell Burberry are the deciders. The pretty girl in the picture has no real input, and if she decides she wants input, the client will just hire someone else.

People assume that actors have a lot more control over how the entertainment industry works, or even how their own images are used, than is actually the case.
posted by Sara C. at 9:41 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


To me that's a reaction to a strawman.

No it's not, because you can have all the awful body shaming imagery without photoshop. Photoshop is just a tool. It's a tool that's been used to create hilariously impossible images we all enjoy pointing and laughing at, but it's being used in the service of some incredibly fucked up ideas about women, bodies, sex, and consumption patterns.

When you do what Jezebel has done, and make the conversation about how silly the photoshopped magazine covers look, you kind of ignore the entire reason to get up in arms about this issue. The problem isn't a computer program. The problem is a sector of the economy built on making us hate ourselves.
posted by Sara C. at 9:50 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


the many movie ads where Knightley has been given cleavage

Interestingly, a lot of that was done with makeup rather than photo editing, or at least the process started with makeup. I think we covered that on the blue a while back.
posted by asperity at 9:58 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


We used to have negatives, now we have RAW files. Either way, the image is latent until you develop it and make a print (or process the RAW - which honestly is where most of the digital work is done and this is before you ever bring it into Photoshop

I must admit ignorance here, and I've heard this sort of thing before, but no one really goes into detail and it's hard to imagine whatever manipulations are done to RAW files being anything like what people do in Photoshop, or having any impact on the discussion of how images change what people to consider normal. So let's be explicit. What do you do with RAW files? I can imagine (again, admitting that I'm probably wrong here) people doing things like cropping, translating between color models/ color profiles, or adjusting histograms. I think those manipulations have little relevance to this discussion, so if you hear someone say they don't want "manipulated" images, you can safely consider the word "manipulations" as they are using it to not include those kinds of adjustments. They're talking about clone stamps, blurring, etc. - tools that change the local geometry and texture of the subject. Do people do things like that with RAW files?
posted by Jpfed at 10:14 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a long tradition in photography of the pursuit of the "straight photograph", which is a bit of an ideal rather than a realizable thing

Sure, but the pursuit of a so called straight photograph, or the use of one particular chemical strategy over another, is just as much a conscious decision and manipulation as going full Zone System. We are talking about two dimensional pieces of paper here, women's bodies do not exist in two dimensions no matter how you made the image, despite the fact that humanity would probably be improved by the forcible removal of the Liquify tool from some organizations.

I just wanted to maybe illuminate for some people that the process of making images is all about choices, it is not one thing or one tool, it is a million things and a million tools and a million possibilities. Photography at this level is very conscious of those choices, and Photoshop is to me a very minor part of that even for people who rely on it far more heavily than I do.

Contrary to what you say above, a photograph is a document. That it's a document which inevitably to some extent distorts or selectively represents its subject makes it exactly the same as every other kind of "document" in the world.

I agree totally, I meant in the vernacular sense and the way that photographs are perceived in many contexts socially. All good photographs are about selecting and imposing a viewpoint on to the image, you reveal things by taking away others, that is what photography and all image making essentially is.

Nothing about the process or craft of it is impartial, and to focus on Photoshop specifically I think is not a productive strategy for changing the way women's bodies are represented in media. It's an easy scapegoat, and a popular one, because it is the only part of the process most people are familiar with. Like I said, this "unphotoshopped" image is most definitely highly retouched.
posted by bradbane at 10:16 AM on November 7, 2014


I'm pretty irritated at the link above about the Aerie lingere line not photoshopping their models - they are on the right track but the framing is still so problematic - "imperfections are visible." I see no imperfections in those models.

For comparison, see this photo for a swim suit from Victoria's Secret. See how severe the model is bending, and yet, her entire torso is smooth, no lines or creases at all. It is not possible for a human body to bend in that way without creasing. See also, creases in the armpit/upper breast that happens when a push-up is worn. VS edits that out too.

Aerie doesn't photoshop the creases anymore. So yes, while the models are georgous and skinny, they also represent how a human body looks.

My photoshop bone to pick: VS's strapless bathing suits. I always wondered why the top never stayed up like it did in the picture. That's because VS edits out the removable strap. Once I found that out, I was pissed and relieved. I thought something was wrong with how I was wearing it or that something about my body was wrong. Nope! I was fed lies!
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]



For comparison, see this photo for a swim suit


that link isn't working?
posted by sweetkid at 10:22 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, a lot of that was done with makeup rather than photo editing

Yet another reason to remember that "photoshop" is at best a shorthand and at worst a red herring.
posted by Sara C. at 10:23 AM on November 7, 2014


Oops! Sorry. VS is blocked here at work so I tried to just link to the google photo result. Here's a link that works maybe?
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:49 AM on November 7, 2014


Adobe is an awful company

Why?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:59 AM on November 7, 2014


I don't understand why anyone finds it acceptable that our culture is essentially created and handled in huge part by people who care about nothing but money and business interest at whatever cost to humanity.

This is the way things are because so many of us make excuses for these assholes and accept the premise that we have to discard our care about actual human beings because "that's how it is". If we state that, WE ARE CHOOSING IT. We play a role in that. All of us who support society this way and make excuses for why we consume anyway, we are supporting this shit. I recognize there's a limit to human will, but with that which we have, we can at least use that part, when we're able,when we see it, when we feel like we can stand up to it, to just boycott this shit, to tell marketing executives to fuck off and stop fucking with people's heads and stop buying products/media from companies that pull this shit.

To stop making excuses FOR the people who do this so that we can consume without acknowledging we made a choice. That's not "just the way it is". That's the way things are when no one cares enough to change it.

Of course I also think that in communities where there is no safety net we breed the mentality of people doing work only for money and not because they actually care about human beings because everyone is terrified of falling to the bottom if they don't so all work is driven largely by fear and the reality of starvation/disease/homelessness/insanity/death for anyone who falls behind. So everyone is driven by "this is unethical but I'm support my family... at least I'm not a bad unemployed person, those people are the REAL unethical people, anything I do to stay empoloyed is ethical" because we believe anyone who needs help or stops working because their work is genuinely unethical is morally worse than people who do terrible things just to stay employed/high status,/provide for their family without being a bad person who needs help to survive.

I think the idea that business SHOULD BE free from ethical constraints is deliberate value of our society and it's really fucked up. I think regulations are part of stopping it personally, especially due the realistic limitations of human will and finances to stand up to despicable and powerful businesses, but I also think doing what we can to change our tolerance for it in how we purchase and make excuses for how fucked up the things we consume often are is also part of driving change.

That was my long rambly way of saying, fuck yeah Kiera Knightley! You go! It's all the little things that often add up to very big changes and each step is worth it.
posted by xarnop at 11:04 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think one of the issues here is that the last century (and more) of illustration has tended toward obvious stylistic liberties. You look at anything from a Nast to a Manara, you're obviously getting the artist's editorial take on how the human figure can be represented for a given effect. That doesn't mean that we can't criticize Manara, just that there's no (or should be no) illusion that Manara isn't taking liberties to idealize the figure for an editorial effect.

In contrast, straight and documentary aesthetics have been a big part of photography. Granted, this has generally been more "truthy" than true. But the Cosmo cover that has been heavily but subtly modified to push the model's figure toward an ideal (for the editors) form sits ambiguously between the truthy and the obviously stylized. I suspect that the default interpretation for photography leans toward the truthy, especially when the publication in question seems to do their best to hide artists and the decisions they make from the viewer's interpretation.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:10 AM on November 7, 2014


I get what you're saying, LizBoBiz...I was just referring to the fact that a mole or a tattoo is not an imperfection - nor is a belly, freckles, etc. That seemed to be what they meant, at least that link pointing to it. They don't look freakishly perfect like porcelain dolls, yeah. But "imperfections," sheesh. You mean like having a human body?
posted by agregoli at 11:10 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I have some moles and stuff and I don't have any problem with referring to them as imperfections. The problem is when people are made to feel as though having physical imperfections is somehow a moral failing.
posted by Justinian at 11:13 AM on November 7, 2014


Like being short. I've never been made to feel bad about a mole... being less than 6'0" or whatever? Definitely.
posted by Justinian at 11:17 AM on November 7, 2014


It's not like it's really possible to "ban photoshop" or anything like that.

Actually, it's been done. Various advertising authorities have banned many ads as "misleading" due to photoshopping, e.g. Lancome in the UK and CoverGirl in the US.
posted by rada at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


For those interested in legislative solutions, there is the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 trying to make its way through Congress.

Summary:

Direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to submit a report to Congress that contains: (1) a strategy to reduce the use, in advertising and other media for the promotion of commercial products, of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted; and (2) recommendations for a risk-based regulatory framework with respect to such use.

Key Quote:

An increasing amount of academic evidence links exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental, and physical health issues, including eating disorders, especially among children and teenagers.
posted by rada at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, yeah, I think it's very possible to legislate some of this stuff with "truth in advertising" laws. To the extent that we're talking about specific ads that make specific claims about their products. And to the extent that what we're seeing is a type of ad where it could be understood that what's being displayed in the photo is the product itself.

But, A, in no way does that have anything at all to do with photoshop vs. other older types of dishonesty (I'd assume that a mascara ad where the model was wearing false eyelashes is every bit as verboten as an ad where the model had her eyelashes photoshopped), and, B, it doesn't really do anything to address the rest of woman-directed media, whether that's magazine covers, fashion spreads, video, whatever. Just yesterday I was reading a Buzzfeed listicle comparing gorgeous celebrities to their awkward childhood photos. And it occurred to me that, for most of the women, the major difference is that female celebrities are not allowed to eat. There's no way to make that stop through Truth In Advertising legislation. It's the culture that has to change.
posted by Sara C. at 11:51 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Justinian - to each their own - I don't have a "problem" with people considering them imperfections for themselves, but I don't see my moles as anything but...moles. Lots of people have them, so what? Certainly don't need to be airbrushed out of any photo.
posted by agregoli at 11:54 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


And yeah - I'd be fucking pissed as hell if someone referred to MY moles as "imperfections." I don't even get the reasoning, actually. It's not a defect! Sorry, thought about this some more.
posted by agregoli at 12:09 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Inspiring! This Teen Only Masturbates To Pre-Photoshopped Images Of Models And Actresses. (Via Clickhole, viral content spoof site of the Onion.)
posted by raysmj at 12:30 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't even get the reasoning, actually. It's not a defect!

And I don't get the reasoning that it isn't a defect so I guess we're even! I mean, it's a lesion. Arguing that it isn't a defect is, to me, like arguing that a melanoma isn't a defect.
posted by Justinian at 1:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tig Notaro is a treasure. And the ellipsis in this, in that place, tickles me:

Anaheed Alani, of Rookie magazine, once wrote that Notaro “uses long pauses . . . better than probably any other comedian in the world.”
posted by phearlez at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2014


Well, let me take that back; defect was agregoli's word. I wouldn't use that, myself, preferring "imperfection" since "defect" does intrinsically contain some kind of moral or other judgment.
posted by Justinian at 1:55 PM on November 7, 2014


For those interested in legislative solutions, there is the Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 trying to make its way through Congress.

I'm interested in where you draw the line, some people here seem to think the only thing that is unacceptable is raster pixel manipulation along the lines of clone stamp/Liquify and that things like lighting or focal length or processing don't count, even though you can use all of those things to the exact same effect. But if you legislate that ok, you can't use Liquify to give someone cleavage or an unnatural waist size, there are plenty of other options for achieving that - you have done nothing to address the actual problem and nothing is going to stop these magazines from continuing to commission and sell toxic images in the same way... accept now they'll proudly market them as "unretouched" or "true" (anyone remember those Dove "real women" ads from a year or two ago?).

When I was a photo assistant I worked on a lot of food shoots, where truth in advertising laws already exist (this only applies to advertising, not editorial magazines, by the way, and I imagine an equivalent for people would work the same). The rule in practice is that what you photograph has to be the actual product being sold, so you hire a food stylist who knows the black art of making frozen TV dinners look like 5 star restaurant meals through all kinds of methods that render the food completely inedible and nothing like what you would get out of the package, but hey, it's the real product! It's just been sitting on set for 6 hours under lights while a guy with a bag of crazy tools pokes and prods it after going through 100 packages of the item to find the raw materials for what is essentially a mini sculpture.

McDonald's actually did this little PR fluff video that shows the process pretty well, although pretty sanitized. As you can see, by the time it makes it to the Photoshop monkey it's kind of ridiculous to me to point to that moment as the one where the line was crossed. And this is for an industry where they must comply with truth in advertising laws.
posted by bradbane at 1:58 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Except that the kind of manipulation we're talking about is about physical impossibilities. It's removing the appearance of ribs from women who are thin enough to be models but god forbid we actually see the real result of that thinness. It's adding curves to bodies in order to emulate an impossible goal where you are reed thin but curved. I don't see the correlation between actually fucking about with the real - food stuff, lighting - and the way women's bodies are broken in the manipulation process and presented as real. It is real life Escher Girl stuff - total impossibilities presented as so normal, so common, that our eye is fooled into believing that they are real and possible.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:43 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh, yeah, I think it's very possible to legislate some of this stuff with "truth in advertising" laws. To the extent that we're talking about specific ads that make specific claims about their products.

Beauty and fashion advertising tends to be specific rather than generically aspirational though. Unlike car ads or jewelry ads or beer ads (drink our beer = bed hot girls) beauty ads always "make specific claims" i.e. when they advertise mascara, they show dramatic eyelashes, when they advertise anti-ageing cream, they show un-wrinkled skin, when they advertise a dress, they show that exact dress on a model, etc.

I'm interested in where you draw the line, some people here seem to think the only thing that is unacceptable is raster pixel manipulation along the lines of clone stamp/Liquify and that things like lighting or focal length or processing don't count, even though you can use all of those things to the exact same effect.

I think that the definition of "what a typical consumer can expect if they use the product" (my slightly abbreviated version of the actual legal language) addresses this very well! If the 'shopped effect is close enough to a non-shopped photograph, then who cares? Your food example works really well to illustrate this, actually. Milk tends to look gray in photos... so if you make it look white and I, the typical consumer, can expect that my milk will be white when I buy it, then it's not deceptive.
posted by rada at 3:09 PM on November 7, 2014


It is real life Escher Girl stuff - total impossibilities presented as so normal, so common, that our eye is fooled into believing that they are real and possible.

And, I wish it didn't need to be added, but nobody literally kills themselves trying to make a hamburger look like a McDonald's ad.
posted by Sequence at 3:10 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


SweetKid, for the fashion magazine industry at least, the actress or celebrity whose photos are appearing in a magazine spread or ad never gets to sign off on those photos. It's not done even as a courtesy. She sees the magazine after its printed or pushed to digital. Perhaps the only celebs with that kind of pull are Martha Stewart and Oprah, because they own their own magazines. There just isn't time for a celeb to be allowed to say to an editor, "you know, I don't like what you did to my face on the cover this time". I don't think this is a gendered thing either; when Johnny Depp was featured in the magazine for which I was a retoucher and designer, no one from his team was contacted before his photos went to print. It just isn't a thing IME.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:20 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


We are talking about two dimensional images here, it's Escher Girl no matter what you do unless you live in a different universe than everyone else.

There is not a single thing you can legislate - from an image production standpoint - that will change these representations of women's bodies. If a client wants X, someone will figure out how to give them X no matter what the law says. That is the reason they hire a creative professional, to come up with a creative solution.

And again, magazines are editorial, truth in advertising laws do not apply to magazines. Your cover girl is exempt. You have to change the culture, which means aiming way higher up the totem pole than the artist working away in their studio trying to get a paycheck.

I think that the definition of "what a typical consumer can expect if they use the product" (my slightly abbreviated version of the actual legal language) addresses this very well!

Can you explain what this would mean in practice? I don't understand how this would change anything with regards to depictions of women's bodies.

Milk tends to look gray in photos... so if you make it look white and I, the typical consumer, can expect that my milk will be white when I buy it, then it's not deceptive.

Only if you light it poorly :). Let me give another food styling example. If you're shooting a photo for a cereal box, you have to use the actual cereal just like a consumer would pour out of a box. But the milk, they're not selling the milk, and when you're arranging pieces of cereal with tweezers to get your composition just right and show off that texture milk tends to make everything just turn to mush by the time the stylist gets it all into place. So a common trick is to use wood glue instead.

Most of the milk you've seen in photographs in your life is actually wood glue.
posted by bradbane at 3:40 PM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Bravo to Knightley and Lorde both.
posted by homunculus at 5:35 PM on November 7, 2014


"You have to change the culture, which means aiming way higher up the totem pole than the artist working away in their studio trying to get a paycheck."

Actually I think it involves asking everyone involved both on consumer and production end, to be more accountable. Everyone likes pointing fingers at someone else, that someone somewhere who ACTUALLY has the power, and I agree some have more or WAY more than others, but we all have a little. We need to at least do good with what we have.

No one should bedoing work and saying "I can't help I think this is unethical, I just have to keep doing it this way because consumer demand, what can you do".

I mean, yeah, every thing is grey, you can take any moral issue where harms are being committed and talk about the gray and how there are not LINES really man if you look deep enough into reality it's all atoms and negative space, you know?


But then there's reality as we interact with it and the reality that when harms are being committed we can choose to be part of making it better or of pretending there is no way to do that or that the responsibility is someone elses. This is all of our cultures and we are responsible for what we produce and consume, on both ends we need to be accountable as members of our communities and how we impact others with these choices.
posted by xarnop at 5:48 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Beauty and fashion advertising tends to be specific rather than generically aspirational though. Unlike car ads or jewelry ads or beer ads (drink our beer = bed hot girls) beauty ads always "make specific claims"

Sure? But the problem with female body image and the media isn't that the girl in the lipstick ad isn't wearing the lipstick advertised. The problem is that her body is physically impossible because of extreme retouching.

I'm sure there will be a lot of impact when/if truth in advertising laws go into affect for cosmetics and fashion. But one area that will not be impacted is the general level of body image insanity that is peddled to women in service of selling makeup and clothes.
posted by Sara C. at 6:34 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have some moles and stuff and I don't have any problem with referring to them as imperfections.

I refuse on principle to refer to any of my own distinguishing marks as imperfections.
posted by flabdablet at 9:00 PM on November 7, 2014


No one should bedoing work and saying "I can't help I think this is unethical, I just have to keep doing it this way because consumer demand, what can you do".

It's utterly trivial in the grand scheme of things but at the same time I feel good that I recently put my foot down when a professional organization I volunteer time to assist with wanted to title a recent monthly event "Fifty Shades of [industry-specific term]". Yeah, no — ubiquitous sexualization may be a part of everyday life, but I don't need to be supporting it in a professional context. The email discussion went back and forth — "it's meant to be up-to-date and kicky!" against my "I don't give a shit, if you want my participation in this event we're not doing it as a reference to Fifty Shades of Gray." Ultimately they capitulated and went with "Strange versions of [whatever]" or something like that.

Luckily, I didn't have to pull out the "Do you realize I flogged my way to a marriage proposal at Living In Leather 1996? Do you want to see my photos from last year's Folsom Street Fair?" card. In my personal life I'm not a prude. In my professional life, I'd really rather not be dealing with references to sexual acts, thankyouverymuch.
posted by Lexica at 10:23 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jamie Lee Curtis did a great spread about body image in More magazine a few years ago.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:31 AM on November 8, 2014


bradbane: "We are talking about two dimensional images here, it's Escher Girl no matter what you do unless you live in a different universe than everyone else."

Are you being deliberately obtuse or do you not understand that 'basic manipulation' of female bodies (and almost only female bodies) deletes actual physical necessities. This isn't 'wood glue instead of milk' - this is, as noted above, the removal of parts of the clothing in order to maintain an illusion that strapless bikini tops have the same level of support as ones with straps. It deletes the ribs from thin women while increasing their breast size. It removes the way padded bras affect the body, except for the padding. It presents a literal impossible image - not a falsified simulacrum like your wood glue example, but a literal impossibility. You cannot, regardless of your weight, lean over without your skin creasing - but manipulation of women's bodies in images does that so routinely as to present a new 'normal' that is impossible.

Because seriously, it's become asnine and patronising to keep harping on about 'but they're two dimensionaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal of course they look different'. We know that, for crying out loud, we're not talking about that.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:44 AM on November 8, 2014 [13 favorites]




In my opinion it takes quite a lot of bravery to court the predictable shitton of negativity from people who agree with the political point you're trying to make.

The advertising industry loves it when the livestock fights among ourselves.
posted by flabdablet at 5:08 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


FJT: "Stop calling Kiera Knightley's nude photos 'brave'"

It doesn't count because she's pretty? Sorry, no, I don't agree with this. ("Brave" is not the word I'd use, but the article is dismissive beyond just that word choice.)
posted by desuetude at 7:30 PM on November 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


It doesn't count because she's pretty? Sorry, no, I don't agree with this.

Yeah, I'm with desuetude. The whole point of her doing this is to show that even though she's ridiculously pretty, she STILL gets photoshopped into something she's not because she isn't "perfect" enough.
posted by Librarypt at 7:27 AM on November 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


but the article is dismissive beyond just that word choice
It was an admirable statement,
...
That’s not to say Knightley’s larger points about the importance of self-acceptance and her own experience with having her photos digitally retouched aren’t valid. Back in 2004, for instance, Knightley made waves for criticizing the posters for the film King Arthur, where her naturally small bust had been noticeably enlarged by a Photoshop-happy graphics editor
...
By posting an un-retouched photo of her thin and gorgeous self looking thin and gorgeous, I don’t think Keira Knightley is trying to pull off the world’s most infuriating humble-brag; I think her intentions are genuine, and she truly wants to shine a light on Hollywood’s oppressive standards of female beauty.
...
But I think Knightley ... need to take a step back and realize that they are not in the best position to do so.
Yeah, man, they seriously tore her a new one there. Why not just kick her puppy?
posted by phearlez at 10:19 AM on November 11, 2014


phearlez, I didn't say that they tore her a new one, I said that the article was dismissive of her. I suppose I could cherry-pick all the condescending or dismissive or "yes...buts" out the article and copypasta them for you, but that's not really my style.
posted by desuetude at 8:58 PM on November 11, 2014


The above is not dismissive by any sensible interpretation.
posted by phearlez at 6:40 PM on November 12, 2014


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