Tag Archives: media images

Retouching, from the view point of the retouchers!


Zack, who works in the art department at a major magazine, added that “with the exception of maybe wrinkles being smoothed out, nearly all the retouching I’ve seen or done is to correct or change a choice made by another creative in the process….[like] I once had to change a subject’s wig color–a choice by the stylist–to one that made the shot more aesthetically pleasing.” Andrew, a retoucher with 20 plus years of experience did admit that he was once asked to alter a shot of Kate Moss to “flatten out a little bit of a curve where her pants were.” He’s also lifted bust lines and smoothed butts.

Obviously it happens, but it sounds like girls’ bodies are not altered so as to be unrecognizable. Tamara, another professional retoucher with decades of experience, said of her work with health and fitness pubs, “[We aren’t] over-slimming. Maybe just pushing in a little bit here and there where the camera might have exaggerated a side, but there still is a camera and there still is lens distortion, so sometimes itʼs just correcting that.” Whatʼs also ironic is that sheʼs “fixing” a lot of bad plastic surgery to make it look more natural. Too-bright tooth laminates and ubiquitous fake-looking hair extensions are also common issues.

What everyone agreed on is that photographers generally don’t spend as much time on shoots as they used to. The prevailing attitude seems to be, as Andrew said, “‘Oh donʼt worry about that theyʼll fix it in post-[production].ʼ” Tamara said the stylists will just pin up a garment and not iron anything because they know it can be taken care of later.

But with a little twist this video, by Buzzfeed (18 Unreal Magazine Photoshop Fails) is a comical look at some of the fails that the industry puts out accidentally.


Its also interesting that the picture of Oprah Winfrey was highlighted as I used that example in my dissertation.


No Photoshop Movement – Michigan Times Article

Article by Emily Legleitner, Michigan Times.  Published 17/02/2014 which discusses the effects of companies (such as Aerie) and the effects that their ‘no photoshop’ movement may have.  Backed up by evidence from Jean Kilbourne (who has dedicated the last 40 years to studying the effects of media and advertising on body image) it discusses how these photoshopped images, although maybe only viewed fleetingly, have a lifetime effect on our thoughts subconsciously.  It touches upon the way that advertising campaigns affect men as well, through their depiction of masculinity and virility, focussing on the tougher side of men which can pose a threat to mens subconscious.   This is particularly interesting to me as it is something that has come up in group crit sessions about advertising being a subject that affects men and is not a purely female problem.


This is a good link to a New York Times opinion editorial on the subject of photoshop.



Verily magazine


Jean Kilbourne


PDF studyguide to go along with Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Me Softly 4 package on the effects of media on women.


Pretty as a Picture, CREDOS, 2011

Some of the links in my previous post about plus sized models refers to a report called “Pretty as a Picture, CREDOS, 2011 so I thought it best to look into this report further and to see who carried out the data collection and who funded/commissioned it to get an understanding on their perspective.

The Federation of Image Professionals has a post that explains who CREDOS is and their purpose.  It is:

Credos is advertising’s independently-governed think tank. It was launched by the Advertising Association in 2010. Credos’ mission is to ‘understand advertising’: its role, how it works, how it is perceived, and its value to UK society and the economy. Credos is funded by the advertising industry, but overseen by an advisory board which assures the quality, objectivity and transparency of its work.


Started in 2010 by the Advertising Association its mission is to “understand advertising, its role, how it works, how it is perceived and its value to UK society and the economy”.  This seems to be a fantastic idea but I am slightly concerned by the and the economy part of the quote as does this may mean that there is potential for a biased view depending on who is funding the projects?

The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association have published a special paper on “Body Image and Self-esteem” which has contributions from:

  • Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for Equalities
  • Lucy Beresford, Writer and Psychotherapist
  • Jo Swinson, MP
  • Richard Darlington, Head of News, Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Karen Fraser, Credos Director
  • Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Each has a different perspective on the problem of airbrushing and body confidence and the report makes interesting reading.  Of special interest to me was the part of the report by Karen Fraser in which she discusses how airbrushing was seen by young women and has photographic evidence of this process – much like I would like to do with my ladies for my dissertation questionnaires.  The PDF of the report can be found at

Jo Swinson writes the foreword for the Government Equalites Office – Body confidence campaign – Progress report 2013.  In her foreword she states that:

It has become so normal, so everyday, for people to worry about what they look like that it is easy to ignore the real problems this creates. Growing up in a society where mass media is fixated on a narrowly defined image of beauty and the celebrities that embody it is damaging the outlook and self-esteem of our children and teenagers – and adults are not immune to these concerns. Of course, individuals differ in their confidence and resilience. But research shows that many people – particularly young people – are having their self-confidence corroded by the belief that their looks are the most important thing about them.

For several years I have been disturbed by the sheer amount of energy, ambition and opportunity wasted by low body confidence. That is why Lynne Featherstone and I started working on this issue back in 2008, and I am delighted to be following in Lynne’s footsteps as the Minister for Women and Equalities with responsibility for taking it forward within Government.

As a Minister in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, I am also very aware of the critical importance of releasing women’s full potential contribution to economic growth. In order to do this we need to address the remaining structural barriers – by modernising workplaces and ensuring access to flexible, accessible, affordable childcare. However we also need to tackle the cultural barriers, which include raising girls’ aspirations and vision of all the ways in which they can be valued and fulfilled.

Plus Sized Models – Just another set of unattainable ideals?

I have been researching media images of women and the effect that these have on self esteem with a particular interest in the digital manipulation that occurs in some images.  There are many reports available on the internet that have investigated the awareness that women have of digital retouching, with 85% in one report being aware that it takes place (credos, 2011). However, this does not take into account that this 85% may not include the most vulnerable members of society who are the very people who need protecting from the misconceptions manipulated images lead us to believe.

Previously I had always thought that the sway towards using plus sized models (whatever plus sized relates to) should be a good thing – shouldn’t it?  How could it be anything but positive – showing real women as they are – with all their curves and ‘jiggly bits’ so that we can see how ‘normal’ we really are … but alas things are never that easy in the media!

I was told about a practice of ‘padding up’ used by these plus sized ladies for fashion shoots.  Shocked and amazed that such a practice would be in place I have been looking more into this – and it’s not good news for my large sized friends!

The lovely curvy ladies we see wearing outfits we would like to buy in our fashion catalogues for the larger ladies are indeed slimmer models wearing pads to make them look bigger.  No wonder when we buy these outfits we don’t look the same … a size 16 lady generally has a size 16 (ish) waist (we all come in different shapes and sizes so this does vary of course) so that wonderful dress with her hour glass figure looks fantastic – I put it on and look like a sack of spuds!  Why?  Because the model in the image is a size 12 really and has a padded bottom and breasts to make them to a size 16.


Its something that I never knew about!  To be honest how on earth can we be expected to know – its kept quiet so that we, as consumers, have an empathy with the magazine/clothes company/catalogue and feel that these models are ‘real’ and we buy those clothes.  We have no idea that we are being duped and aspire to be just like them.  In my opinion it is sadly just another form of media meddling and does no more good than only showing the slim models.

Very few ladies have a genuine perfect hour glass figure, regardless of the size it comes in.  Fashion icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, were noticed because they are in the minority with their natural body shape.  Very few of the models shown have the figures that 95% of the female population are able to achieve (Sex Roles, 1999) – I feel we are being grossly misled.  Where are the real plus sized models?  Bring on those beautiful ladies that really are plus sized and stop playing mind games with peoples self esteem.

A current young female model who admits to using this practice of padding on occasion is Marquita Pring.  In this article she explains that sometimes she is not curvy enough for her clients as she is a large size 12/small size 14.


The article from the Daily Mail isn’t the only newspaper article that broaches this subject.  The Huffington Post also has articles by model Marquita Pring about the practice of padding.


Pring also has a current and often updated Instagram account that has many comments on it about the media ideals she sees towards the ‘perfect body’.  This account has feedback both for and against her thoughts on her posts which makes interesting reading.


Other plus sized models include Myla Dalbesio, who has recently starred in the latest Calvin Klein advertisements.  However, at 5’11” tall and a UK size 14 there are serious debates as to whether she really classes as plus sized.  Taking into account the models height I, personally, would say that this model is perfectly proportioned and is not plus sized.  This article in the Daily Mail addresses those very concerns.


I will be looking further into other models that come under the ‘plus size’ label.  I have found this site that looks interesting and will be following up many of these links.



Pretty as a picture, CREDOS, 2011

Gender differences in population versus media body sizes: a comparison over 4 decades, Sex Roles, 1999