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Young People's Centre
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Air Brushing & Mental Health

So let’s talk about airbrushing and photo editing. I think by now most people know that photo editing is EVERYWHERE. From the Amaro filter on your Instagram selfie to the photo shop experts giving people face lifts from the comfort of their office chairs.

And why is this? First and foremost these images are always selling something. Whether it’s a product, a person or a concept they are always trying to make us buy into it. And by choosing not to use real images of real people they are telling us that real people are not good enobeyonce-leaked-unretouched-photos_2015-02-18_23-33-44ugh to sell their products. They are selling an unrealistic and unobtainable image of perfection.

Editors can change images until the subject is completely unrecognisable. It starts with deleting a blemish or two and finishes with elongating the limbs and changing the colour of someone’s skin.

The recent ‘scandal’ was the leaking of some photos of Beyoncé – before they had gone through the digital ‘perfecting’ process.

 I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. ‘Oh my god! Beyoncé is a real person with normal skin!’. This is the kind of species we have become. We build human beings up to God like proportions and then we dig away at them until we can bare their imperfections. But the media has made us this way. Before we were constantly bombarded by an incessant stream of millions of these so called ‘perfect’ images of beauty, there were only a few of these big stars and their beauty was considered to be out of the ordinary, special. You can liken it to exams at school. Before the media took over our lives a select few people were achieving an A* in the physical beauty stakes. But now, due to editing, everyone is expected to achieve an A* at all times. Even the so called ‘real people’ in magazines are airbrushed. But now, people want to walk around as a photoshop version of themselves, bathed in photographic spotlight and blurred with a subtle but noticeable filter.

We are consistently told that we are not good enough. But they do this to make us want the products they are peddling. The beauty industry, in particular, wouldn’t survive without an unhealthy dollop of human self-loathing.

“You have terrible skin so you need to cover it up with our new foundation!”

“You’re thighs are far too big, we will slim them down with Photoshop!”

“your face has too many wrinkles, buy these poisonous injections to get rid of them!”

“The model in this advert is beautiful, you will look like her if you buy this!”

I am happy to admit that I love make up and Instagram filters. I enjoy the whole process from purchase to application to selfie. But do I really enjoy it or is the brainwashing so deeply embedded into me that it has become a part of who I am?

Extreme use of image editing makes the world a very confusing place, especially when you are growing up. I remember ploughing through endless glossy magazines and comparing my weight and looks to each one. I knew they had all been edited but it didn’t seem to matter. I would spend entire days looking up what the weight and height of celebrities are and then comparing myself to images I could find of them on the internet. I would vow that in 6 months time I would look like them – but that is not physically possible.

I find this subject really interesting and I could write for hours about it, but I just wanted to get this out there, in case there are girls and boys reading this that are taking drastic measures to look like the images they see in magazines. They are basically just artistic portrayals of what the editor has been brainwashed to think is a beautiful human.

Would love to hear what your comments are on this subject below 🙂

2 Responses so far.

  1. Sarah says:

    I completely agree! It makes me angry how much pressure is put on people to become something that is impossible!! Striving to change is something that stops me from being happy in the moment. And I like to be happy. I want to be happy NOW. Yes, I do think it is important to set myself goals. But I want my goals to be realistic and achievable. If my goal is to look like a model who has been air brushed and edited….and I spend all my time thinking about obtaining the unobtainable then how will I ever be Happy now? Let’s campaign for more realistic role models everywhere. I don’t want to be a woman who spends every hour striving to make my body thinner and my skin blemish free. Think I’d miss out on so much of the life I want to enjoy if I did!

    I want to enjoy feeling healthy, being energetic, using my brain, being creative (with make up from time to time!) and laughing with my friends. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kerry. Wish the media didn’t play up to our insecurities in order to suck us in to consumerism.

    My vice: I never go outside without foundation on. Being picked on at school for having acne started this off….then the media fed into my insecurities. Going to try to challenge myself on this after reading your words.

    • Kerry Cable says:

      I am really happy my words inspired you. I would like to be happy with my body and face because I like it – not because it is approved by a magazine or advertising billboard. I would much rather have that than be thinner/taller/prettier.

      Good luck with your challenge and thank you for sharing! 🙂

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