Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Portion Distortion [Perception Deception]: The Ugly Truth & Our Duty to Stand up to "Beauty"

I wrote an essay for a college communications class a few years ago about digital enhancement in advertising, magazines, and the media. 
I think it is now more relevant than ever before... and sadly I believe unless we all stand up to society's unrealistic obsession with perfection and cruel, brutal judgment on the definition of beauty, then the problem will continue and lead to drastic consequences that are already occurring all around us in the form of unhealthy eating disorders, low self-esteem, self harm, bullying, stress, and sometimes suicide.
I commend Ashley Judd taking a stand and sharing her message and frustration with this. 
It's up to us to speak now.
You aren't ugly. Society is.
Here is my essay...

Magazines, the media, and ads shouldn't Photoshop images or should be required by law to state if they have digitally enhanced or retouched an image. They should be required to disclose this information or else it is deceptive and can lead to eating disorders and have negative repercussions on society. Photoshop digital enhancements are not only deceptive but unrealistic. They are a form of false advertising.
The definition of false advertising, according to the Dictionary of Law, is "the crime or tort of publishing, broadcasting, or otherwise publicly distributing and advertisement that contains an untrue, misleading, or deceptive representation or statement which was made knowingly or recklessly and with the intent to promote the sale of property, goods, or services to the public."
Jennifer Aniston said to Vanity Fair, "The media creates this wonderful illusion--but the amount of airbrushing that goes into those beauty magazines, the hours of hair and makeup. It's impossible to live up to because it's not real."
According to photographing editor Ken Harris, models can't even measure up to their own images. He explains every image you see has been worked on, but it's like magic. He covers his tracks to prevent being obvious that an image has been retouched.
Newsweek reports in their article "Picture Perfect" that "Retouching techniques that were once used mainly to erase blemishes or stray hairs have become tools for radical human body distortion, shrinking waists, and vanishing years, turning models and actresses into leggy dolls of literally inhuman proportions. Fashion, women's, and lifestyle publications may not admit it outright, but it's common knowledge within the industry that retouching and thinning models and celebrities is not just standard procedure, it's expected and often demanded." 
A Manhattan based photo editor, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of professional backlash, told Newsweek, "We're always stretching the models legs and slimming their thighs. Sometimes I feel like Frankenstein."
According to a 2004 global survey by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, "Several studies show that women feel worse about themselves after reading fashion magazines. An average girl today will see more than 77,000 advertisements by the time she's 12--and you can bet most of those have been retouched. If that girl is like 42 perfect of the population she'll want to be thinner by the time she's a third-grader, and by age 10--if she's like 81 percent of her peers--she'll be afraid of being fat."
Prevention Magazine reports, "A healthy weight for a woman who is 5' 9" is 129-169 pounds. An average 5' 9" model weight is somewhere around 110-115 pounds."
The New York Times states, "Boys as young as 10 are bulking up on steroids." As you can see this problem affects boys too.
U.S. News reported, "Most of us don't see our bodies digitally doctored and spend way too much time staring at ourselves in the mirror, comparing how we look to those "perfect" bodies that grace magazine covers. 1 in 10 partakes in behaviors such as bulimia, over exercising, skipping meals, abusing laxatives--eating disorders."
While lack of control, depression, and abuse do have an impact on eating disorders, the media plays an equally important role in pushing people to partake in these behaviors and should take responsibility. 
Newsweek reported in February 2009, "In response to the uproar over some well-published alterations of celebrities, through the trade groups that represent those publications, in both Britain and the United States, say they are considering voluntary codes outlining how far art directors can go. And late last month the National Assembly of France went a step further when it approved a bill that, if passed by the Senate, would make it a crime for anyone, from pro-anorexia websites to advertisers to editors, to publicly incite 'excessive thinness' or 'extreme dieting.'"
According to Rader, an eating disorder treatment clinic, "Following viewing images of female fashion models, seven out of ten women felt more depressed and angrier than prior to viewing the images. 80% of women who answered a People magazine survey responded that images of women on television and in the movies make them feel insecure."
Victoria Beckham, Mary Kate Olsen, and Karen Carpenter are a few among the many celebrities who attribute the media and advertisements to their eating disorders.
Advertisements that have been digitally retouched do more harm than good. Women and men alike would like to see more "average" and real people on their magazine ads, covers, and media.
The 2004 Dove Survey, mentioned earlier, found that "68 percent of women strongly agree that, 'the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can't ever achieve.' 76 percent wish female beauty was portrayed in the media as being made up of more than just physical attractiveness.
"75 percent went on to say that they wish the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, including all ages, shapes, and sizes."
Advertising executive Christy Turlington explained to Elle magazine, "Advertising is so manipulative. There's not one picture in magazines today that's not airbrushed. It's funny. When women see pictures of models in fashion magazines and say, 'I can never look like that,' what they don't realize is that no one can look that good without the help of a computer."
Photoshop (or other photo editing software) either needs to be banned or the ads and pictures that use such imaging retouching tools need to disclose that they have been used to ensure consumers (men and women everywhere) are not viewing false advertisement and will no longer suffer from this perception deception.

EXAMPLES of Photoshop (Before & After)

celebrities before and after photoshop 21 in Celebrities Before and After Photoshop

The definition of beautiful is YOU.
There are 7+ billion people in this world but only one YOU.
Be the best you that you can be.
Beauty isn't just on the outside, it's inside of you, it's your heart.
As you can see, what the world calls beautiful is completely distorted... in fact, it's not attainable because it's not real!
You can exercise and be healthy, that's beautiful. Eating disorders aren't beautiful nor healthy. They are destructive and can lead you down a path where you have to keep getting skinnier until finally you disappear (die). 
The people that matter will love you no matter what. 
They will think you are beautiful no matter what.
You are beautiful no matter what anyone says.
How do you feel beautiful in a world like the one we live in?
How to be happy with yourself?
You are one of a kind... embrace your individuality. 
Someone somewhere thinks you are the most beautiful person in the world.
Everything has beauty, just not everyone sees it. 

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