The impact of retouched images
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Originally published in The Other Press. Feb 24, 2015
Can a magazine with untouched images of models sell? I don’t know. Every time I have stood in the supermarket checkout line, I’ve noticed the stunning works by digital artists on the front pages of magazines. I must admit; I’m not the demographic for those magazines. There is nothing in there for me except fashion advertisements and regurgitated articles about topics I have no interest in. That leaves me to wonder, how influential was Cindy Crawford’s photoshop-free image that leaked on the Internet? Was it simply a publicity stunt to sell magazines or a true stance against a manipulative industry?
In the April issue of Marie Claire, you will be able to find a picture of the famed supermodel dressed in a bathing suit with all her flaws fully displayed. It’s a bold move that has earned resounding applause. But will it affect the landscape of modelling or the cutthroat world of media? It won’t.
As magazine sales decline dramatically, marketing stunts need to be implemented. Yes it’s brave of Crawford to appear in her humbling form, but it was also brave when Kim Kardashian appeared in Paper Magazine oddly mutated with her giant butt exposed. And there is a certain courageousness to those Instagram girls who take to social media, posting #NoMakeup pictures of themselves. These are apparently the things people need to do to get attention and to sell magazines today. However, models and people are not pioneers, and if they were they would be destroying the very industry that entertained and created them.
It’s clear why the veil of computer modification needs to be pulled down. People are impressionable and photoshopped images corrupt the idea of what beauty—achievable beauty, realistic beauty—actually looks like. However, the public does not want to pay good money for magazines with undesirable images.
I’m sorry that I’m skeptical and that I believe one day our shallow world will realize what hideous creatures we’ve become, not just in print but also in reality. Photoshopped images are drugs and we are addicted. We are now obsessed with the fantasy of looking perfect and dressing well. No model can change the current zeitgeist alone. Sure it is empowering but how can we use that power for good and not have it be one small step forward and three giant steps back.
I hate the idea of someone behind a computer retouching scars, wrinkles, pores, and pimples from an image of me, and I’m sure you’d hate that too. But simply eliminating it won’t work either. Perhaps there is a middle ground, a balance in every publication to have both retouched images and originals. Perhaps there can be two versions printed. Maybe we can see which initiative sells better.
It is a business, after all. McDonald’s burgers always look bigger, juicer, and tastier in advertisements. And so it goes with supermodels.