Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reverse Airbrushing

I recently wrote about Jennifer Lawrence and airbrushing.  With this post, I want offer up another perspective of airbrushing that more often than not, women are not aware of: the airbrushing of women who look "too skinny" to make them look "more healthy."  

An article from the Huffington Post caught my eye, (you can read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-wade/youd-be-shocked-at-what-these-fashion-editors-are-editing-out-of-their-photos_b_4542067.html ) mainly because it featured Cameron Diaz and mentioned airbrushing.  I noticed a few differences in the two photographs, for example, they smoothed out her hip bones and her cheekbones, but other than that did not really see the differences until the article went on to point out that they also widened her thighs, and made her stomach, shoulders and arms a bit fuller...


So, the point was that they were airbrushing her to make her look less skinny, which was surprising to me.  And I will just say, how can anyone possibly find anything wrong with the picture on the left (the one not airbrushed)?  Cameron Diaz looks great.

*Just so I don't step on anybody's toes, I do realize that some girls are naturally very skinny, and that that is a body type - in the case of this post I will be referring to those women and girls who go to unhealthy lengths to have the type of skinny body that is unnatural for them.*

The article I saw, with the headline, "You'd Be Shocked at What These Fashion Editors Are Editing Out of Their Photos" was pretty accurate in my case.  I can honestly say that I had never thought about reverse airbrushing.  The article was prompted by an expose written by Lead Hardy, a former Cosmopolitan editor.  You can read that here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1279766/Former-Cosmo-editor-LEAH-HARDY-airbrushing-skinny-models-look-healthy-big-fat-dangerous-lie.html

Reverse airbrushing presents us again with the issue of making women appear to be something that they are not.  That something is being presented to everyday women as obtainable, when in reality, it is nearly impossible.  In this case, these women featured in magazines, models and stars alike, who are underweight and skinny through unhealthy means (Hardy's expose mentions anorexia, alcohol-abuse, starvation), and thus have the "right measurements" (ex. 6', 22" waist, tiny thighs) but are then given healthy curves, glowing skin through retouching.  The image created is one of perfection, and one that is most likely, unobtainable for many women.  

As Hardy wrote, "Thanks to retouching, our readers - and those of Vogue, and Self, and Healthy magazine - never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny.  That these underweight girls didn't look glamorous in the flesh.  Their skeletal bodies, dull, thinning hair, spots and dark circles under their eyes were magicked away by technology, leaving only the allure of coltish limbs and Bambi eyes."

I think that it is only through awareness of something like reverse airbrushing, that women can begin to see the power that media has over the way we view our bodies.  We are presented images of women who appear to be perfect, whether they were airbrushed to look skinnier, or to look healthier.  Hopefully, it is through this awareness and recognition that what we are presented with is not real, that we can begin to take back control of our body image, instead of leaving it in the hands of magazine image editors.

As always, let me know what you think!

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