Photoshopping: Achieving the Unachievable - FamilyEducation

Photoshopping: Achieving the Unachievable

January 10,2012
Lindsay Hutton

It's that time of year again-- the time when gyms are packed at maxiumum capacity, full of January Joiners who swear, this year, they will get those elusive six-pack abs that have evaded them their entire lives.

Because their lives will be perfect, if they look the way they think they should.

But although the gym masses will peter out by March, with many people losing motivation or getting too busy with their every day life, the message is still there, loud and clear-- "perfect bodies" are more desirable.

If you don't have a "perfect body", you are lacking. You may have a fulfilling life, but if you don't have a perfectly toned tummy and legs, you're still not up to par.

Magazines, Internet, television-- all of these outlets have engrained in our brain what "perfect" should look like.

Size zero. Toned (but skinny!) arms. Six-pack abs. Tan skin. Blonde hair.  Absolutely no blemishes. (Or pores!)

Look at any magazine and that is exactly what you'll see staring back at you. But most of the time, the model depicted on the cover of magazines is a far cry from the model who posed for it.

Sure, her face might be the same (albeit with more defined cheek bones and flawless skin), but other than that, the rest has most likely been altered, shaped, and molded into someone completely different.

A few inches off her thighs. The bump gone from her nose. A teeny waist, where there wasn't one before.

Someone who looks perfect.

But also, someone who is fictional.

Take H&M- they've been accused of putting the head's of models onto different, more "perfect" bodies.

A recent Taylor Swift ad endorsing CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara was pulled for being misleading, since her lashes were digitally enhanced.

And who can forget the time Kristen Stewart was left without an arm?

My point is, the people on these covers aren't real.

But still, it's conveyed that people should strive to look that way, with magazine covers promising that you can "Drop 10 pounds in a week!" and "Get dream legs with 3 simple moves!"

When did the media decide what perfect should look like? And when did we start feeding into the idea that our self-worth can be determined by the size of our jeans? 

The reason for this post is because of a recent article about Jennifer Hudson, and her public outrage over how she is depicted on the cover of her debut album, which was released in 2008.

In 2008, Hudson was 80 pounds heavier, yet her photo was so extremely retouched (without her permission), she looks the same as she does today.

And while Hudson is proud of her weight loss (rightfully so), she was insulted that other's felt the need to make her look so drastically different almost 4 years ago.

She felt it sent the wrong message to her fans- that talent and accomplishments aren't enough. You still need to be skinny to be successful.

And that is the wrong message. A healthy lifestyle and fulfilling accomplishments are what really matter. How you look should never determine how you are treated or viewed.

After all, you wouldn't judge a book by it's cover, right?

So tell us-- do you let your kids read or look at magazines with drastically photoshopped images in them? How do you explain to your children that the media definition of "perfect" shouldn't be the standard that they hold themselves up to?