photoshop gone wrong

There has been revived interest in the always hillarious/grotesque/disturbing ways that advertisers distort women’s bodies in ads. Check out the controversy that has been going on at BoingBoing. Also, here is “The Ethicist’s” take on the whole thing (which includes lots of examples).

I know there are lots of people who will feel uncomfortable about the government regulating advertisers (although Randy Cohen makes a lot of good points about why this should happen). I wonder how a cultural shift away from these bizarre standards of beauty can actually happen. Does government intervention even really solve a problem like this? I guess this is a much bigger question than one about photoshopping super skinny models into even skinnier ones, but it is this kind  of insidious, nebulous problem that is the hardest to solve. Girls and women everywhere are effected, but not one is really responsible.

3 Responses to “photoshop gone wrong”

  1. 1 Some Thoughts
    October 25, 2009 at 2:23 am

    I don’t think we can expect the government to take care of something that is the job of good mothers, good fathers, good husbands, good friends, good teachers, and good role models. It doesn’t matter if you allow size six models or size zero models to be in advertising. We live in a country where pornography is a billion dollar industry, where tv shows depict insanely gorgeous teenagers having amazing sex, young girls cannot navigate through this gauntlet of mass media that objectifies women at every turn. They need to be able to see it for what it is: a false sense of reality. They need to be loved unconditionally and realize they have so much dignity because God created them and loved them. They need to understand they are so much more than mere sexual objects. We are by nature sexual beings, but that is not all we are. There have been polls done where more girls wish they were prettier than smarter. I don’t think a text book or slightly more realistic ads of beautiful women will convince girls to not hate themselves or their bodies, they need to experience the love of their parents, first and foremost and of those who are put in their path to help them. When women in society are confident in who they are and demand true respect, culture is a better place to live in. Call that sexist but its true! This may seem tangential, but I just meant to say that you will never be able to fully protect girls/women from the outside world and unrealistic depictions, but we can influence their interior dispositions by loving the women we know and helping them see that beauty is more than outward appearance. Kindness, concern for other people, hard work, honesty are the type of qualities that make someone truly beautiful.

  2. 2 tigress d
    October 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Some of the images you linked to are so bizarre, so completely distorted, that it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone at the company wouldn’t recognize the strangeness of the picture and prevent it from going out into the world… But maybe these advertisers/photographers/photo-shoppers spend so much time looking at insanely re-touched bodies that they’ve lost all sense of what a real body looks like. “Sure, a woman’s head can be wider than her pelvis,” they think. “That’s beautiful!”

    It’s like a weird hall of mirrors. Sometimes I worry that if I spend too much time looking at ads in magazines, on the sides of buses, on the internet, on tv, etc, etc, that I’ll get sucked into that hall of mirrors too. If govt. isn’t regulating these kinds of ads, it’s at least good to have media-savvy consumers pointing out the absurdity of it all.

  3. 3 thetigressreader
    October 29, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Lady Elephant said “When women in society are confident in who they are and demand true respect, culture is a better place to live in. Call that sexist but its true!”

    I don’t call that sexist at all! I think it is basically the ultimate feminist goal that women in all societies are confident and respected. And I would love to participate in anything that helps girls and women respect themselves more and have parents who are supportive and loving.

    I do think that it is a viscous cycle, though. When girls don’t have adults in their lives who support, love, and empower them, I have no idea how they would ever learn how to treat their own children that way. I just don’t know how to have that happen.

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