Unretouched Photos: Empowering or Just More ‘Empower-tainment’?

Recently, there have been a few high-profile examples of magazines publishing images of “real” women: plus-sized models, or celebrities free of makeup and/or Photoshop. The ensuing publicity can make it feel that we’ve won body image victories–but let’s look closer at these images to find out how much we should really be celebrating.

February 2009: Love Magazine‘s first magazine cover features a nude Beth Ditto.

April 2009: French Elle’s no make-up edition features eight European models without make-up or digital touch ups.

September 2009: Glamour Magazine features “the woman on p.194” with a belly roll (and a smile).

January 2010: V Magazine‘s plus-size model spread, clothed and nude.

February 2010: Australian Marie Claire puts Miss Universe 2004, Jennifer Hawkins, on the cover nude and unaltered. A cover signed by Hawkins was auctioned on eBay, with proceeds donated to Australian eating-disorder support group The Butterfly Foundation.

March 2010: Tara Lynn graces the cover and the pages of French Elle’s “curvy girl” issue.

April 2010: French Marie Claire releases a non-airbrushed issue.

Just last week: Britney Spears releases unretouched photos alongside  the altered images for her new Candies campaign.

A few days later, Kim Kardashian releases nude photos for the May 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar sans digital alteration (and felt so empowered that she tweeted about it).

I’ll admit that I’ve gotten excited about more than a few of these body-image events, and looking at this list it would appear that there’s some real positive change occurring. But after news of Kate Hudson’s alleged breast enhancement made headlines less than 48 hours after Britney Spears released her unretouched photos, I had to ask, Do these efforts matter? Can these images combat the images below?

Yes, unadulterated images matter, but their impact is diluted by the millions of adulterated ones. As consumers we are exposed [PDF] to hundreds of advertisements per day that overwhelmingly feature unnaturally (or genetically predisposed) thin women who have been further retouched. Waists are made smaller, torsos and legs are elongated and thinned, thighs smoothed and  armpits all-but-disappeared.

In this context, the occasional plus-size model appears deeply incongruous: a spectacle, not a part of a spectrum.

In the cases of Spears and Kardashian, featuring striking women without airbrushing isn’t exactly revolutionary–and some speculate whether these images are actually all they claim to be. Kardashian’s body, at least, comes pre-altered by cellulite removal. These photographs set a new unattainable standard, this one for “real” bodies. Plus, both Spears and Kardashian have  published countless altered photographs of themselves, and Kardashian hawks diet pills as a side job.

Without an authentic and consistent message of  beauty empowerment in all its diversity, these attempts feel like gimmicks, or what Samantha Moore of Gender Across Borders calls “empower-tainment“:

It’s going to take more than a celebrity proclamation that my “unique” qualities are beautiful, despite what popular media—and the male gaze driving it—say. Because beauty standards are socially constructed, redefining what “beauty” means is a hairy, multifaceted venture that must consider entrenched social forces. Powerful influences such as patriarchy, historical context, consumerism, and media are embedded in the fabric of almost every society. While boosting women’s self-confidence is peachy, it cannot be a successful driver of social change. What we really need to contest is the beauty myth—the illusion that female beauty standards are natural, inevitable, and backed by some concrete “truth” about optimum femininity.

Images that fall outside the limiting standard can’t produce change when millions of taken-for-granted images constantly cultivate our expectations and solidify the standard. Publishing unadulterated images every so often, with great fanfare, does not successfully challenge the normative Eurocentric image of ideal beauty, which includes vast amounts of alteration. Rather than promoting real change and creating a critical dialogue that explores the creation and maintenance of unrealistic, confining and, often, dangerous images of beauty, the announcement of these unaltered photos can easily become a spectacle designed for publicity and ratings.

TOP:Tara Lynn in “curvy girl” issue of French Elle. BOTTOM: Collages by Nasser Samara.


  1. Michelle A says:

    It’s always great to see unaltered images because they are a nice change from the usual perfectly photoshopped pictures that are released. I’ve never thought about how little impact these images actually have on our standards of beauty but after reading this article it’s something I’m realizing. So what if a few unaltered pictures of a plus size woman are printed and advertised? Those few images are trumped by the millions of photoshopped pictures we are used to seeing. Kim Kardashian’s image is so hypocritical because on her show she is always talking about losing weight, toning up, her cellulite and her diet pills. Let’s not forget that she has a body most woman would kill for so seeing Kim’s “unaltered” picture doesn’t necessarily give me a boost in self-esteem. When unaltered images of plus size women are released they aren’t a step in the right direction they’re more of a spectacle for a little while and then everyone forgets.

  2. Elizabeth D. says:

    It is great to see photos of models and celebs showing their true beauty. I actually find these images empowering. However, I think we don’t seem to realize that even models have dislikes about their own bodies; even the ones who pose nude in photos must have insecurities. We are all humans and it’s just a natural feeling we all go through, including men. I think that with the new gadgets photographers use to enhance and alter photos gives these models and celebs a sense of safety of showing the public a perfect body image of themselves, which I think it isn’t right. Media puts too much pressure on women to look young, slim, and beautiful. Women who aren’t afraid to show their true body I consider them as empowering; just like the women represented above. Although, I can see how these images can be perceived as ‘empower-tainment’ because in reality we rarely do see images of women like this more often. And when images of women are represented unaltered the media makes a huge fuss about it. Overall, seeing images of models and celebs like this can bring a brief moment of a boost of self-esteem but really wish we have this regularly.

  3. Juana Vitela says:

    It’s very interesting to me to see the ways in which media manipulates images and alters them to show a perfection in beauty that just simply does not exist. I look at magazines, commercial and billboards and all i can think of is what does that beautiful model really looks like. I have heard about Photoshop probably since it came out but I never really understood to what depths it was used. Im glad to see that their is celebrities and people who want to make a difference and show that beauty is not perfection and that their is different types of beauties not only the one which we are socialized to accept. Although I believe is a positive thing that these celebrities are showing the real them with no touch ups or anything i believe that the power of our society is much stronger and this society will keep socializing people to believe that their is only one type of beauty and that is a tall, young, skinny, blonde girl with colored eyes.

  4. Holly A. says:

    To be quite honest, I do not think these plus sized images change anything. As sad as it sounds, I think they are more for entertainment purposes. Although it makes me happy that girls of different sizes are being recognized, things will never change. We have been socialized to think of beauty as thin and anorexic, that when such photos come out, they are “fun” and “entertaining”. Sort of a way for magazines and large companies to say “hey we feel bad for this over weight girl. Let’s make her feel pretty for once. Hey world, look at us we think all sizes are beautiful.” No, they really do not think all sizes are beautiful. Also, I really do not beleive the so called “unaltered” pictures of Kim K are un altered. This social norm of thinness and perfection is so deeply imprinted in our conscious and subconscious minds that nothing can come and change our beliefs.

  5. Nicole Z. says:

    I must divulge, I am the first one to run out and buy an issue that features a beautiful woman who has not been airbrushed. Since celebrities are always portrayed in a glamorous and seemingly picture-perfect light, it makes me feel a little better about myself to see them sans makeup and photoshop. I am keenly aware that my self-acceptance should not be contingent upon images I see in the media, but I am only human. After being subjected to a barrage of artificial, retouched photos on a daily basis, a glimpse of reality is more than welcome. However, after reading this article I realize that a temporary satiation is not significant enough to evoke any real sense of change. Kim Kardashian may have posed in the buff, allegedly without any airbrushing, but she is known for her heavy use of makeup and has been accused of plastic surgery in the past. She also exploits herself in the conquest of fame and fortune and has participated on multiple photo shoots that utilized intense editing.

    The publication of bare-faced celebrities is a shameless marketing ploy. Editors of magazines know how to increase sales and this is just one of the means to do so. I challenge you to name one woman who would not appreciate seeing their favorite star au natural. We want to feel like celebrities are just like all of us, flaws and all. In order to promote any real transformation in our society, unedited photos need to become a common fixture in the media and print sources. They need to become normalized to the point that we will no longer are astonished by their publication. I do not argue for the complete extinction of beauty ads, but rather for the seamless integration of natural photos in print ads.
    We are lead to believe that our society’s ideal of beauty is inherent, but in all actuality it is socially-constructed; as we collectively become cognizant of this fact, we can band together and rally for change!

  6. Jessica C says:

    It really is amazing how drastically a picture is able to change during photo editing. Sad though, that it is so dangerous and hurtful to society but so accepted. Even if you know and expect a photo to be altered, you have no idea which parts or how much have been reconfigured to be consistent with the media’s idea of what beauty is. Women and girls are constantly attempting to strive toward an impossible goal of technological perfection, what a cruel trick. Yes, I believe a small few can hardly have an impact when there are thousands of other photos that have been retouched. Still, these unretouched photos do spark interest and provoke people to discuss and notice how often photos are modified and its negative results on beauty image. Especially the “gimmick” photos that may strictly be for publicity, I feel those have the greatest chance for impact. People who may not have media literacy and would have seen the photo regardless if it was photo shopped or not, is now made aware that there is a difference between retouched and unretouched and may ponder its ramifications.

  7. Kristin Singleton says:

    I think that this is a step in the right direction. However there are still many concerns with famous faces posing unretouched photos of themselves. Are they doing it for publicity? Are they really for the empowerment of women? If these celebrities are really genuine when they share unaltered and unphotoshopped images of themselves, I think they should take a stand against all photoshopped images of themselves. The other day I read an article about another celebrity posting a picture of her without makeup, stating how she is over ‘Hollywood’s Perfection Requirement’. I really think this does send a positive message out to girls who look up to these celebrities as role models. We definitely still have a long way to go, but I think we are taking a step in the right direction.

  8. Nicole D says:

    The images I see every day in the media are obviously photo shopped yet many girls forget that when looking through ads. Girls start to compare themselves to women who probably look so different without all their hair, make-up, and photo-shop crews. It is not until a magazine specifically says that a picture is unaltered that we realize that most of the photos we see are not in fact “real.” I feel that it is so wrong that we have to be told when an image is real, because every image should be real. It sends out a horrible message to girls when all they see is images of flawless, thin, Barbie-like models and celebrities, and when a magazine publishes unadulterated photos, it may seem like some change is going on in the media. Although it may seem this way, the truth is there is no change, because all the models on runways and the majority of ads feature extremely thin models. It is really unhealthy for girls and women to see these fake images, and I do not think there is enough being done to change the media from publishing extremely photo-shopped images. I completely agree that the images above are just “empower-tainment,” because just a few images of unadulterated models and celebrities, can combat millions of pictures of adulterated models and celebrities.

  9. Jasmine M says:

    It is truly sad, that the photoshopping of pictures has become so rampant that it is now shocking to see people presented in their natural form. The fact that some celebrities are now fully embracing their beauty and releasing unphotoshoped pictures is empowering. It allows the general public to see that the people, who they may idolize, too have flaws. We are plagued with images of rail thin women who have unattainable figures and women who have flawless skin and makeup, so much, that we are led to believe that such characteristics constitute beauty. The fact that their unretouched pictures are now being released is refreshing. I can too see how the argument that the releasing of unretouched photos are a tool for publicity, but photos of celebrities in general create publicity. Although I believe that the releasing of such photos is a great thing, I think it will take time to change the way we as a society define beauty.

  10. Anndrea A says:

    While it is realistic to question if these unedited images are making a difference in society’s perception, it is unrealistic to expect change to happen immediately. This article itself even stated “unadulterated images matter, but their impact is diluted by the millions of adulterated ones,” and that’s exactly the point. For decades the media has been spewing out images of technologically perfected bodies, this fad of non-photoshopped, unedited photographs is fairly recent and it will take a while to build enough steam to compare or compete with the amass of current photoshopped images. The the most important thing is that the trend has started. This shows that society is no longer tolerating the current definition of what is “beautiful” and is starting to see that these images portray a fake image that is not real. It is a baby step in a 100-thousand mile journey. But as the saying goes, the first step is always the hardest. And now that it’s been made, it can only improve from here.

  11. brittany Fisher says:

    While reading this article I could not help but to disagree. I do understand that the author is simply looking at these efforts from another perspective, but in doing so I feel like these efforts are being looked down upon when this should not be the case. I do agree that these efforts will not surpass the views on beauty and that the amount of airbrushed photos we see daily will not change, but these efforts of unretouched photos are still worth something. For example, the Britney Spears photos alongside one another I believe are great for empowering other women. Looking at these efforts on a positive note, I see them as a start of something helpful and empowering for women.

  12. Brandy S. says:

    There were several things about this article that really resonated with me. For one, when magazines release images of women over size four, it is very unfortunate that they must mention “PLUS SIZE.” Society has definitely blown that phrase out of proportion because society has made it that if any woman bigger than a size four is considered plus size. The fact that Kim Kardashian thinks that showing her well toned and perfectly air brushed body nude should be empowering to other women, only goes to show that some celebrities really do not know the socialization that they influence upon the minds of their fans. There are some plus size people that are in love with Kim Kardashian and will go to see her nude and take it that they are not as pretty as her because they do not look like her. She was not empowering by that picture, if anything she was intimidating. The wide spread of women who are considered industry beautiful because they are all smaller than a size four, they look like they have eating disorders. I think the “real” body campaign is a great one to promote, but there can not be clauses to the campaign, it needs to be 100% true to image and show people that real beauty is the more beautiful than the artificial version produced in the magazines.

  13. Avery G. says:

    Even though we all know the photos we see of beautiful super models or celebrities have been touched up, we still put ourselves under scrutiny and compare ourselves to them. It is unrealistic and impossible to do but we all, for the most part, try to look as beautiful as those women on the covers of the magazines we indulge in. I agree that it might be a publicity stunt to release untouched photos from time to time, but like you said, many of them are pre-altered so how untouched can they really be? Our sense of real beauty is tarnished by the ad industry and we fall short of “par” when we compare ourselves. We need to realize that if we had a personal trainer, personal chef, make-up artist, hair stylist, personal stylist and photo shopped all of our photos, we would look just like our favorite celeb. Too bad that isn’t reality. We need to take a step back and be happy with what we see when we look in the mirror and if we strive for change, it’s not to match the latest swimsuit model on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

  14. Vanessa Ochoa says:

    I think that this is a step in the right direction. I feel that its important for celebrities to do things like this only if they truly believe that move is for the empowerment of women. Since celebrities have such a big influence on our society, it would be great for young girls to see how these women truly look, not that fake unrealistic photos we see everyday in magazine and ads on TV. We definitely still have a long way to go, but I think we are taking a step in the right direction.

  15. Mitchelle Bareng says:

    Our culture teaches women that their worth is determined by their appearance. Not only do they teach us this but our culture also presents us with this unattainable image of women that women constantly strive to emulate. In magazine retouching, they take pictures of real people and then proceed to Photoshop them, blurring their kneecaps and shaving off their curves and creating a person that does not exist. Women then see these images and try to turn themselves into something that is synthetic. This results in unhealthy, depressed woman. They starve themselves and find themselves unhappy because they can’t look like the women in the media. To be honest, I sometimes find myself hating what I look like because these images of women are everywhere I look. I have to constantly remind myself that these women do not look like this.

  16. Alina Bergelson says:

    This article was very interesting. i appreciate how magazines are stepping forward to release unretouched issues and featuring plus sized models. most women in our world do not fit the societal beauty standard so it is nice to see some magazines putting out images of real women. unfortunately these couple of images and magazines are not enough. most magazines and most issues of those magazines are featuring barely there women and advertising images that many women cannot relate to. these few plus sized image i believe are created to start a buzz and make money. This is the sad part about it because magazines do not want to change society and show the images of real women in their magazines, they want to create a buzz and ultimately reel in money.

  17. Melody S. says:

    It would be amazing if there were a magazine solely dedicated to just showing real women with no editing and minimal makeup. During the 50’s ordinary women did not expect to look like hollywood starlets understanding that their lives were different from theirs. Today this is not the case as ordinary women compare themselves to famous women whose jobs are centered around being beautiful 24/7 on top of being edited. They are not real women. I do not believe these magazines flattering the figures of the plus sized models. They should be dressing them in clothes that flatter their curves instead of dressing them in clothes that they clothe the anorexic models with. I think it is too big of a splash. We need to work up to showing plus sized women nude because it will just cause society to uproar because people have been conditioned to hate plus sizes. Little by little showing plus sized models more and more will hopefully trigger a shit in paradigm.

  18. Giselle A. says:

    While I commend the celebrities and magazines who release unretouched photos for the public, I agree with the article as it states, “As consumers we are exposed to hundreds of advertisements per day that overwhelmingly feature unnaturally…thin women who have been further retouched.” Though there may be a few hundred unretouched ad covers out there, it can not compare to the millions of retouched photos that our society is exposed to every day. This means that the one unretouched image and plus-size model that is released on a magazine acts as just “a spectacle, not a part of a spectrum.” It is nice to see a change once in a while and view the sans makeup images of celebrities, but that will never become the norm. The normative image we see in magazines are ones of altered images of celebrities in order to sell to the mainstream culture and male gaze. While women view numerous retouched images in magazines everyday, we compare ourselves to these images, even though we are aware that they are altered. It is quite amazing how that work, as I seem to do that whenever I skim through a magazine.

  19. Mary Marrone says:

    This article was interesting. And yes, it does seem to be that magazines are taking a step in the right direction, but the problem is that it isn’t constant. The magazines just seem to be pleasing the public for a short amount of time and then return to it’s original ways.
    Magazines and other advertisements give girls low self-esteem. Beauty and body image seem to be a hot topic these days. The key for girls is that they have to try and tune out mass media.

  20. The media always targets women, always has and will continue doing so. Since the invention of television, the number of eating disorders and dieting techniques have increased tremendously. Media constantly cultivates the idea that women are supposed to be skinny and beautiful and flawless. They point this out will several alterations to the original picture to create a perfect, but impossible image of women. When magazines as such listed above are released into the public, people think that the media’s changed. However, we fail to realize that the fact that we notice these changes means that it is not normative yet. Media’s impact on the way we view others, and the way we view ourselves will continue along the same trend until one day we don’t need to notice that yes there is indeed an image of a women that hasn’t been retouched.

  21. Sharona M says:

    It does not make any logical sense how we believe that we need to look a certain way. If models and celebrities whose jobs and lives revolve around fame and appearance can’t do it, then it’s impossible for regular working, family-taking care of, school- distracted human beings to do it. I do feel some empowerment viewing the images above of unaltered women. It makes me feel that I do not need to succumb to society’s peer pressure of looking very thin and having flawless skin because let’s face it, it’s all genetics. Upset about how you look like? Blame your genes. I found a different type of beauty when viewing the pictures of the plus-size models above. I thought, “wow, look…anyone can model! I don’t have to be a stick!” If anything, these models looked happier…especially the girl with the belly roll.

  22. Amanda A. says:

    I do agree that we need to be constant with these real women images. We can make a positive change if we can make this mainstream in the media. I’m sure the process will be slow but we are pushing we can try and get our voices heard. Not everyone in the world fit these beauty normatives and it makes us feel that we aren’t beautiful because I’m not a size o. To show beauty empowerment we need to love our bodies for what they are.

  23. Marissa P says:

    I remember when the Britney Spears photos were released and I thought to myself “I dont think she gives two s**** if this affects girls body image and is probably doing this for publicity”. I also remember flipping the page to see an ad where this woman was pretty much having sex with a burger for Carls Jr. So which image are young girls supposed to look at? The one in a million photo of an untouched picture of a celebrity or the ad that shows sex sells even with a damn burger?

    I dont think these photos make a huge difference for these few images that are released of untouched or un-photoshopped celebrities dont even amount to the mass number of images that girls get everyday from TV, magazines, billboards, etc. Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian do not have the normal body type of most women so even the unaltered photo does not represnt most women.

    People look at these photos with awe and are thankful that these women are willing to show their natural bodies. But why do they do it? Do Spears and Kardashian care about the body image of young girls and women who look at these magazines? Do they do it because they want to empower women to be proud of their bodies? I find it hard to believe that there isnt a few $$$ behind why they published these photos.

  24. Yanira S says:

    i think it’s great that there’s no photoshop to the pictures taken. It shows the true beauty of women that nobody is born perfect or look that perfect there is no perfect beauty or perfect body. So it’s good its not altered they are proud of their bodies and their beauty i think it is empowerment for women. They can start a trend for the beauty and fashion industry and young girls can see that beauty is not perfect or having the perfect body image real beauty is natural.

  25. Richard L says:

    It’s amazing, yet scary how skinny many of the models are in the last picture. It’s amazing how people in america strive to become skinny, and do whatever it takes to try and reach “0% body fat”. While doing this, they are also saying how it’s sad kids in very poor countries are basically just skin and bones, when they themselves look just like that.

    Although i think it’s a very significant step towards eliminating retouched photos of women, i don’t think it will change much in the way people want themselves to look like in this culture. It will take a lot of cooperation from many of the top models to try and turn around the way many people think. If there is a collective cooperation from many people, and a person’s mind is changed on how they feel they should look, i think it can be considered a success. When one person’s mind is changed, it can act as a chain reaction and maybe people will begin to be less self conscious about themselves.

  26. Christopher T says:

    I cant believe that they alter Britney’s it looks better that she wasn’t altered. these women models are so thin now and it sucks that they have to be put into circumstances of being weighed at photo shoots and turned down because they are not tall enough. The way they put these women on pedestals and it gives false hope to women and girls who want to be models and get shot down. I like how they are now realizing the effect of body images and how they are putting real women on magazine so girls can inspire to be normal and healthy.

  27. Yanira S says:

    It shows the true side of women how they look in real life and not photoshop. I think its great if they stop photshoping women and models it can show young girls that they should be proud of the way the look and their body image. Looking skinny and a size 0 is not healthy and it should nt be glamorize as good young girls will think they need to look like that, but its not healthy and it doesnt look good for their mentally and body image. They media should stop photoshoping forever I think it is ugly how those models look in a photoshop and its not really them. I think it is an empowerment to stop photoshoping pictures and be proud of the way you look.

  28. Real women and girls are more beautiful than photoshops but it is hard to believe for many women and girls because skinny models became norm. Although most women does not fit this image. Many young girls are victimized by media. Those “beauty” image is unreal and unhealthy. My friend visitsme and stays at my apartment. I show her around and I realized I have never see she eats actual meal. She always says she is not hungry when I ask her. Finally i took her to the restaurant but she still no eat. I tried not to push her to eat. I feel so much fear that she is almost dissapear. I want her to understand that size 0 isn’t goal of beauty.

  29. Chulhyun A says:

    many of yours maybe got surprised how photos can be changed by retouching. and yes. It was my job to make the unreal shapes while I was working on model agency.
    Sometimes I was sicking tired of my work and asked myself that “why so many people want to throw out their unique characters and just want to be one of common face?”
    Kind of this movement is considered to be good movement. However, I just worry about that if the non-retouching movement is truly for women, or just one of marketing for short period.

    Just I don’t want women are swayed by press. Their beauty comes out from their mind, not how look they are. I swear there are many men who love un-retouched images of you than the fake images of you although media is continuously telling that the fake image is what men want!

  30. Jason A says:

    Society today sees celebrities and women who feature in advertisements as the perfect person with the perfect body. They show that they are better than the norm and that we are less than them. Most of the photos that are released in our media today are altered and are not what we are actually seeing. Many teens and adults are hurting themselves in trying to reach this impossible image that is displayed by the media today. This needs to stop and people need to realize that media is altering what we see today.

  31. Elyzabeth A says:

    With all due respect, some of the models that represent what a “real woman” is are sort of depressing. I just don’t understand how people can find it attractive. In the other hand, those real women who pose as the actual real women are very courageous. The reason why is that they are not scare to show what a real women is. And yes indeed I agree that real women have curves, extra meat, free of exaggerating make up and on. I agree upon having more photos of the real women, and not a phony Photoshop altered model. Though, it is not their fault of them wanting to be who they are because they grew up with media as well. And media likes to show us what a real woman is, when in reality we are killing ourselves by dieting, excessive exercise.

  32. Ashley-Marie M. says:

    i dont find it empowering that some of these photots are not retouched because not everyone has joined on the band wagon. for it to truly effect a consumer it needs to solidified everywhere. not once a year so a fluffy nation can feel empowered during that special month. as a society we always focus on perfection how about we start focusing on imperfections that way consumers look at models that look like them and not some fake individual.

  33. Rashidah I says:

    A women is a women and should be celebrated as she is. Just as some have curly hair and others have straight, we are all different. No two people are the same. They can try to be, but they will never be, genetically. We are all unique and need to be comfortable in our own skin. The media does a brilliant job at painting various pictures of what a women should look like and so do celebrities, even if the say they promote female body empowerment. There should not be an ideal body type for women or men. All that does is encourage low self-esteem, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and much, much more.

  34. Jennifer H. says:

    Its crazy to think that we dare compare ourselves with these so called women. They’re a false image. Each and every one of them. Girls grow up to believe that they all should dress and look a certain way in order to be accepted but little do they know that these images are all false. Photo Edit can change so much. Magazines and the media in general should show what a real woman looks like ! I love how these strong women feel confident enough to show their true bodies. There should be more people that allow this to come pubic, this is what people want to see, not anorexic unhealthy looking women.

  35. Alexander A says:

    This article was also very interesting too read. This article is very empowering in itself. When looking through magazines whether your a man or woman you always come across a picture of model that really catches your eye. For menu and for me when I see a picture of a man with huge muscles and a perfect six pack I look at my self and try to compare myself with picture even though I know it has been photos hoped. For woman the something happens. We as a society need to realize that people in those photos don’t look like that. We need to be happy with our selves and be happy with the way we look.

  36. David W says:

    It is pretty amazing how the people who make these ads really think that real people who are reading these magazines think the models really look the way the do when their whole body looks too perfect in the photos. To me I am not attracted to anything fake. I rather have a woman with smaller breast than woman who has big fake breast. It is pretty sad that a woman like Brittany Spears cannot show her real body even though she already has a good looking one. I believe showing magazines with real womens body would be a good way to go becuase I think real women can relate to them much better.

  37. Samina Abgin says:

    I do read a lot of these magazines and it always makes me think and although maybe im trying to go around the fact, im going to admit it. I sit there judging and comparing myself to a machine that made these celebs and models thin with perfect hair and cellulite free. Many people including myself tend to forget that these photos are in fact Photoshopped and the people on the cover dont really look like this. Its horrible that its a special thing when a women on a cover of a magazine is “real” when it should always be real. It sends out horrible messages to not just young girls but all ages from young to old. Even when we know these photos are fake we still put ourselves under the pressure to make ourselves look like they do! Why do we do this. sure, if i had a personal trainer, chef, make-up artist, hair stylist, fashion stylist and a professional photographer taking my photos i would look great too! too bad that isnt reality. Im not saying we should stop reading these magazines, because i love reading these magazines and reading about the newest fashion and drama with the celebrities, but everyone should take a step back and be happy with what they have, and if they’re not because again not everyone is perfect, we can all work on improving what we have.

  38. As much as it’s great to see these woman feeling empowered by what they actually look like, and allowing the world to see them unaltered, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Our society is bombarded with images of skinny high fashion models, and although they don’t represent the larger population, they’re what we see, watch, and aspire to be like. These images, unaltered and flawed, just as humans are, don’t make much an impact, at least not in most peoples lives. The images that are unrealistic are submerged into our minds, and that’s what’s normal.

  39. Although I do believe that the use and display of unretouched photos is empowering to women and girls because they make women realize that the models and celebrities are not perfect. Yet, there is still a resonating power within these untouched photos themselves. Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, they all set a completely different standard.

    I’m sure that, on a small conscious level, there is a reminder that lingers in our heads that magazines feature photoshopped women, and due to this, the idea that this image is unattainable is viable. Yet, Kim Kardashian’s untouched photos display a potentially even more harmful vision of beauty… Kim’s body becomes the standard of “real” beauty, but even when she is untouched, her look is still unattainable. It is her job and profession to look beautiful, to go to the gym, to eat healthy and have a great looking body and tan. She has chefs to cook for her, gym instructors, people who clean her home, do her laundry, and run her errands so that she can focus on being beautiful. All of these duties do not permeate through her photos and all the viewer sees is an effortless look… because after all, it isn’t photoshopped. This lack of photoshop but still effortless look can still be detrimental to the self-esteem of impressionable young women and girls everywhere, just the same as an incredibly photoshopped photo can.

  40. Since I read a lot of the magazines featured in this article I was fully aware of the power of digital enhancement in every image you see on the internet. Unfortunately many men and women are unaware of this which leads to unrealistic expectations and low self-esteem. To be realistic I do not think that this situation will ever fully evaporate from society because of technologies progression. However I think that the solution to this problem that can be implemented immediately is to make it a law that every picture that is digitally altered must specify somewhere on the photo even if it is in fine print. Many in the magazine and media industries claim that it is society’s fault for not understanding that digitally altered images are part of art, marketing, and advertising. While in some aspects they are right, we also must be sensitive to the harmful impacts these images are having onto society. I think a disclaimer would be a suitable compromise.

  41. I will admit that although I do read such magazines, I do enjoy reading them. However, when it comes to noticing photos of models, celebrities, etc. in these magazines, I often do analyze the photos, not thinking that they are touched-up and computerized. I often notice the small things about the photos and tend to analyze myself and my feature, comparing them to the photos i have witnessed. In the moment I do not think of the photoshop that is involved with the photos, but rather think to myself “Wow, these women are perfect.” I am aware that it is a negative aspect to compare myself to the photos and I later on think to myself that I should be happy for what I have, having high self-esteem and the confidence that I should be able to flaunt. It amazes me how much re-touching can change the photo drastically, making the model or celebrity a whole new person, which is absolutely a bad influence on women, in my opinion. I believe that every women should appreciate what they are born with and how they look, which is the best quality a women can have.

  42. I believe that showing these images of celebrities in their natural form is empowering, however it is not making a strong enough impact on society, because magazine companies continue to put images in their magazines of photoshopped and altered models. Women often times forget that when looking through these ads, they are altered in many ways, and it is an unrealistic goal to look like these models because of this. These images make women feel insecure about their own bodies, although they are not “real.” I think it is unfair for girls and women to have to see these fake images, because they find themselves putting themselves down because they begin to compare themselves to these unrealistic images. There is enough being done to change the media from publishing extremely photo-shopped images; this is a good first step, although it is not having a strong enough impact on society. I unfortunately don’t believe that just these few images of unadulterated models and celebrities can combat millions of pictures of adulterated models and celebrities, but I think that they definitely do need to be combatted because it is not fair to the women that use these images as a guide to how they want to look.

  43. This is such an important article that needs to be read by all. I was actually thinking about this while I was doing a content analysis, on the mainstream woman’s magazine cosmopolitan and there were one or two things that strayed from the general theme of the magazines advertisements and featured material, but yet that has no real stick to people especially if your conscious of it and realize it as it is so out of the ordinary it is the stability of those other images that creates the norm. The subconsciousness is what is responsible for the cultivation through these advertisements and their images. These images of tiny women I always found shocking but the idea that they are being digitally mastered and altered especially to be more thin is insane it should be illegal due to how detrimental it is on the women of society who feel these impossible body’s are reachable as before I thought they were just extremely skinny models and reaching that if it is not in your genes is possible you might hit some health issues but you could reach it or near to it to be close to happy but now it is impossible and no matter what woman do they will suffer and if they try to hard to reach these body’s they can even face fatal effects.

  44. I completely agree that most of these un-retouched photo spreads are “empower-tainment.” Even if they’re not, there aren’t enough of them to counter the media blitz of altered photos. According to the advertising statistics provided in the linked pdf, over $2 billion is spent just targeting “juveniles,” presumably the most susceptible to body image messaging. Of course, I think un-retouched photos are a great idea. I think most would agree that it’s important to have these images, but I wish they were the rule rather than the exception. I can’t speak to anyone’s motives, but I sure wish that some celebrities who make a lot of noise about their one photo shoot that wasn’t re-touched would think a little more about the message they’re sending with the other 100 photo shoots they do every year that are air brushed and photo-shopped to “perfection.” The images they present in such photos is impossible to achieve. Even Kim Kardashian doesn’t really look like Kim Kardashian. As with most things for sale, it’s all about the money. The unattainable images peddled by these ads are designed to separate young people from their money. The more we spend on beauty and diet products, the longer this cycle will perpetuate. And, even with limitless funds, it’s still not possible to achieve the vision of perfection they set for us.

  45. I agree with Jessica that although the few “natural” images being put out by the media can not reverse the deeper imprinting of the majority. It sad but true that the release of unaltered images such as the the one of Britney Spears are more of a spectacle than then result of a shift in consciousness. Never the less, they are important and need to continue to be released. I hope that the spectacle quality of such images will fade as more and more are released. Of course there are many other steps that need to be taken such as advertisement regulations. I was happy to learn that companies in Europe are catching on to the problems that the “beauty myth” creates and have taken it into consideration when choosing their models.

  46. I concur with this article especially after our class discussion on cultivation, which refers to the building and maintenance of a stable set of images. As we discussed in our class, we unconsciously take in all of these millions images and come to create a standard of beauty within ourselves. I personally agree with this concept and believe that my standard of beauty has been greatly influenced by the media. All the images I see are very uniform, and it is true, whenever I note a different image I note the difference and out of place of the image. But all the uniform images of beauty play a more important role because they millions compared to the very few that are out of place. All of these images bring to us a mode of stability because the media reflects a consistent image of beauty. I had a parallel experience to my professors when she was at Massachusetts when I went to the village where my parents were born in Mexico. I also noted that there are no ads or billboards. I actually also felt something was missing but never figured it out until my professor told us about her experience.

  47. I 100% agree that a few unaltered pics of high profile celebrities are not gonna change the view of the million other photos (that they still participate in) that have photo shop. They are just in it for the fame and money and there looks are unrealistic anyways because they have millions of dollars for surgeries. I too get excited when I see those images, but the idea behind it wont change the medias obsessive behavior in changing womens bodies into stick figures. The right path I would say is showing images of natural size woman like the plus size models but we need to see more of them. The only other way of stopping this media photo shop frenzy is too not support it and make people aware of it. That is not how natural woman look, every woman is different, and we can not let them dictate our perception of beauty anymore.

  48. It is interesting to see how different people look without their make up and hair done, and without the photoshopping effects done on the computer. Looking at these images, give females a sense of a fake reality. They aspire to be something that is impossible. Therefore, leaving them feeling unworthy and “ugly” for their whole lives. This is a huge dissapointment in our society, and I believe that it should not be allowed. The photos that are in magazines and ads, should be left completley unaltered so that people can actualy see what a real woman looks like. Not a woman who has had tons of make up put on her, and has had her photo edited on the computer.

  49. The exhausting need to chase the illusion of physical perfection has reached its limit. I feel that even the media today attempts to simmer down the “ideal woman” perception. Many lives have been damaged by illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia leading to suicide. Having a hand full of celebrities come forward is not enough. Being bombarded with photo-shopped images of models, perfect smiles, porcelain like faces has become a subconscious feed into our psyche. We no longer even notice how much of it we take in because it has become the “norm”. The bigger question and concern for me is how can women get to a place where “we” do feel comfortable, satisfied and perfect in our own body just the way nature intended? I agree with JennaH her post has a great idea: on every retouched and altered photo there should be a tab. Similar to a warning label on cigarettes, ingredients on food and alcohol. This will help modify our perception and the information we take in. Women may begin to identify between reality and the illusion.

  50. I agree that more celebrities are choosing not to retouch their photos but choosing to show their natural looks to the world. To name one I know and just saw do a after birth bikni photo to show the world that you can have a baby and not get surgery, have a crazy diet, or work out like everyday for hours a day to look as good as Mrs. Tamera Mowry. A magazine wanted her to show all first time moms and even the adverge woman that you can still look good without going to extremes for it and for that I envy her, because her gave a beautiful photo untouched and all natural and all her. The media believe it or not really shapes todays youth and the messages that the media sends out there isn’t all what it should be for our youth, but you do see little by little that it’s trying to make a change for the better.

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