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The media shows a great deal of false body images. This is all due to photoshop and retouching to give an almost impossible beauty standard for both men and women.

“The unrealistic body image in the media distorts reality and leads people to believe they are abnormally heavy when they really aren’t”

(Body Image in the Media – Mirror. Mirror)
Regular photo (left) Photoshopped photo (right)

Photoshop is becoming a dangerous tool in the media industry. Most of the time, it is doing more harm than good. Photoshop should be used to touch up or enhance a photo. However, some advertisements are doing more than just “touching up,” for they are manipulating the photo completely so the person looks nothing like they did before (as seen in photo above and video below). This can be dangerous for an audience because it can create a false idea towards a body type that isn’t even possible to exist in real life which can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and poor body image. In fact,

 “78% of 17-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies… 30% of high-school girls and 16% of high-school boys have an eating disorder. Teenage girls are reportedly “more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents, or nuclear war.

(Vaynshteyn, G., 2014)

Body image is essentially one’s idea of their individual body and how it looks. The media is good with making an individual consider that since their body has normal flaws that practically everybody has, they should view their body image negatively. This results in giving the individual a poor body image. This causes a person to want to strive towards the near impossible and do anything to achieve the unrealistic body image. The media does not essentially attack an individual with words by calling them ugly or fat, but they display it through advertisements and photos that are retouched and photo shopped making people believe that the body they are displaying is what the public views as beautiful and if someone does not have this “look,” they are seen almost as lower class than the retouched photoshopped model in the photo the individual is looking at.

“I believe Photoshop is being used more as a weapon that a tool these days. I don’t expect it to disappear quickly, but something needs to change because how it’s being used now is just plain irresponsible,” said body positive blogger Melanie Gentile.

There is a debate whether or not Photoshop is completely to blame for the amount of negative body image there is out there. It is to be believed that people shouldn’t place their confidence at the “mercy” of a magazine cover. In fact, according to Stephanie Murray from Verily, confidence is found from discovering our self worth not coming from our physical appearances, and getting rid of Photoshop isn’t going to give us any more confidence than we already have with its existence (Murray, S., 2015).

“I truly believe all the blame shouldn’t be put on Photoshop, but should be placed on the people using it for the wrong reasons. It can be a helpful tool to enhance photos and create different graphic designs, but I personally have never used Photoshop to manipulate someone’s body. That just seems wrong,” said Graphic Design Major Lauren Nicholson.

Tattoos and “imperfections” are left alone and not touched by any editing software. Everything in these advertisements are 100% real and unedited.
Aerie also includes women with disabilities to make sure everyone feels included in their campaign.

Even though it is believed removing Photoshop won’t do any good with improving people’s confidence, you have to wonder if a business would able to strive without it and if Photoshop is really a necessary tool in the media. Aerie is the perfect example of a business that is thriving for being known not to use Photoshop or retouch any of their photos. In fact, Aerie has past it’s competitor Victoria’s Secret in sales and is expected to open about 200 more store locations by 2023 while more Victoria’s Secret locations are shutting down (Mahoney, S., 2021).

“I really don’t see any harm with stopping the use of Photoshop in advertisements. People like to see what is real and will have trust in the company more if they know they aren’t being manipulated by a fake image. I say get rid of Photoshop, or at least the tools from it that are used to manipulate a person to look completely different,” said Advertising Major Claire Jennings.

Photoshop may not be the main reason of people having negative body images, but it definitely isn’t helping the situation either. The media can easily turn this negative situation around by having more campaigns like “Aerie,” and having more realistic body images with a more variety of body types in their advertisements. This can easily change someone’s view of their body and help show individuals how normal it is to have things such as stretch marks, cellulite and a little jiggle. Media has such a big influence on its audience and should be using its power for good.

Sources Used:

Body Image in the Media – Mirror. Mirror. (2020, June 11). https://mirror-mirror.org/body-image-in-the-media.

Mahoney, S. (2021, January 21). AEO Thinks Aerie Can Soar To $2B In Sales. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/359841/aeo- thinks-aerie-can-soar-to-2b-in-sales.html

Murray, S. (2015, June 29). Yes Photoshop Is Bad, But Getting Rid of It Won’t Solve Our Self-Esteem Issues. Verily. https://verilymag.com/2015/06/photoshop-body-image-beauty-self-worth-how-you-define-yourself.

Vaynshteyn, G. (2014, April 16). Why Photoshop is More Deadly Than You Thought. HelloGiggles. https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/photoshop-deadly-thought/.