Tuesday, April 8, 2008

maybe she's born with it, part deux.

it has been one week since my previous post, maybe she's born with it, maybe it's photoshop. i'm excited to tell you that it has been my most well received blog post since the birth of frozen.oranges, and i would like to take the time to respond to the comments posted on this entry.

the response i heard the most of was that, despite what goes into a magazine photograph and whether or not people know how far from reality it is, these advertisements are still taken as comparisons. on top of that, why would these be the photos portrayed to advertise a product if anything "less" was good enough? the portraits of these airbrushed-to-"perfection" models is what society is telling us is the standard of beauty. and i absolutely agree that this is absurd.

it's true that how fake it may be doesn't matter. it would be like a skincare company making an ad where that giant close-up of a face was on minnie mouse. they wouldn't do that because it's not an "accurate" representation of what their makeup can do for you. they want you to think that you should have perfect, flawless skin and their product can achieve that. we all know that there is no makeup that can make your skin that flawless, which runs me into my endless motion of where to aim my anger.
the digital art world is giving our society an unrealistic standard of what we're supposed to look like, and based on who? who was it that said, "extra flab on arms must be spliced off in photoshop, skin must be blurred to be blemish free, and breasts must be perfectly symmetrical and perky in order to be considered worthy of your title as 'woman'." i'm sure it started as, "you can look like this if you wear our product!" but has undeniably ended as, "if you don't look like this, you're worthless... so buy our product!" thanks, assholes. you've single-handedly destroyed womankind's self-esteem.

which brings me to my other side of the argument... why are woman allowing themselves to fall victim to these farcical ideas? this is not a rhetorical question; i want to hear your answers to this. the fact of the matter is that we are responsible for the way we feel about ourselves. no one else. we can blame society for the way we look at our bodies, or we can take responsibility for our own feelings. as a recovering anorectic, i know what it's like to compare myself to those in the media. i had the "thinspo" scrapbook (and still technically do... it's buried in my closet and i'm planning on burning it when it's nice enough outside to really sit and watch it burn). however, with all that skinny, blemish-free, perky breasted media i'm surrounded by, i now look at it like i see any average woman on the street; acknowledge it as a human form that has no personal connection to myself and move on. society does not choose for me to hate my body, i choose to love what i look like. i have broken out, dry skin, but i take care of it and move on. anyone who cares enough to have a conversation with me is looking at my face on the whole, not at the zit over my left eyebrow. (if anything, they're probably more worried about whether or not i'll notice the one on their right cheek.) people often tell me, "wow, you need to go tanning." nope. you don't tell me what i need for my body, i do. i may be close to transparent, but i also have healthy, skin cancer-free skin. i also love that it makes people laugh when i joke about being transparent. i look exactly how i'm supposed to look and i believe i wear it well. the standard for beauty should be to wear your natural features with confidence.

now, running in my track some more, this doesn't make what the advertising companies are doing right or acceptable. however, we're all the human society has; without people, there wouldn't be a society. we make the rules on standards, not the magazines. the employees, the readers, the photographers... all groups that are made up of human beings with insecurities. so change it.

i would like to clarify that, yes, i see retouching as a form of art like any other. yet, the point we miss is that art exists to make a statement that cannot be put into words. i will never use my art to make the statement that the human body is not beautiful as it was created and i am in strong disagreement with those who do. expecting that i go into digital retouching, professionally, i do not do so without the goal to reshape the industry. as i wrote in my portfolio artist statement, my ultimate goal is to help other retouchers to understand that - while it may be our job to fine-tune a frame to create what is most visually pleasing to the eye - it is not our place to reform the human body in a way that is to be depicted as what is expected of our society.


Åsa Schrader said...

I still don't get it..why change it at all if the message is that we ARE good enough as we are? Why retouch someone who's already beautiful? Who says that retouching it will make it more pleasing to the eye? If you say that it's going to be more pleaing to the eye you must imply that it wasn't good enough before, right?

I realize that society is not responsible for how I feel about my body and I don't blame society for my ed, I think the resons I developed an ed are deeper than that but I think we have to agree that people, especially young people are very impressionable and they may not have a strong filter to what they see.

I just think we should display healthy women and portray them the way they actually look.

Åsa Schrader said...

Yes, but we are focusing on bodies and faces here, aren't we?

KC Elaine said...

hmmm. I like your follow-up post. I do somewhat disagree that hating our body is our choice. I believe it becomes a choice only once we recognize it - that is, from a cognitive science perspective, the brain has way too much data to process that it takes what it is taught - especially from a young age - and takes it for granted as truth, so that way it can spend its energy on other things. So initially we learn to hate our bodies and accept that without question. But ultimately we can recognize what we've learned on auto and work really hard to change that.

So I don't know that I'd say women allow themselves to fall victim. While I do believe in the power of the individual, sometimes it's easy to give an individual superhuman qualities, like the ability to change their psychology. If you've got multi billion dollar industries doing scientific research to figure out what makes us tick, cry, and buy, you've got to give them credit too, for knowing to a T how to manipulate the human psyche.

Stephanie said...

Why should the make-up companies want us to look at a picture that is unatanable in order to sell their product. By saying "use our product and look like this" they are saying that we aren't good enough the way we are and that we should strive to achieve the look in the picture, which is ridiculous because that picture is fake. How can it be more viaully pleasing if its fake? Why should it be more visually pleasing BECAUSE its fake? Who said that fakeness is more pleasing than reality? Thats the stupidest thing i've ever heard.

I also disagree that society has nothing to do with the hate of our bodies. As children we are constanly exposed to the touched up , skinny, 'beautiful' 'perfect' human figure (speaking in the female terms here) and those people become our ideals, our idols. Everyone has an actor, or model or singer/songwritter as a hero when they're little. These people are held aloof of all other 'heros' (such as parents, teachers) because they are untouchable. Rarely does a child get to meet her hero in real life, and therefore only has a picture/video to portray this person who they 'worship.' This creates an ideal in the childs head of how they want to be as an adult. And regardless of the in-and-outs of the celebrity industry and how idols might change, there is always someone in the childs eye who they strive to be like. As children our minds are not developed enough to know that these pictures are indeed fake. So to say that society has no influence or nothing to do with how we feel about our bodies is silly in my opinion. Society is completely responsible for how we feel about our bodies. There is a point in our lives when we grow past that, when we realize the fakeness of the industry and we can start to rebuild our body image in our minds to resemble the true image. This however takes an immense amount of time and work on the individuals part.
Just because some people have learned to rise above the stipulations that society has put on us doesn't mean everyone has reached that point in their life where they can throw away societies pressures and influence and truly have a uninfluenced view of their bodies.

emmy. said...

stephanie: i...wish i could answer that. i don't know. and that's why i want to change it. it's not right. i don't think it began as "let's make it look fake and people will buy our product." i think it was, "if we touch up this model's makeup just a LITTLE bit in photoshop, it'll make woman REALLY want to buy the makeup" gone way out of hand. photoshop retouching didn't start of ridiculous. i think people just kept taking it further and further until they've reached the point where they expect women to think that they, too, can appear airbrushed if you just apply their blush. it's disgusting.

also, i'm not sure where i might have typed that, but i far from believe that society should take no blame for the way we see ourselves. i am in complete agreement with you there. god, i wanted to be BELLE when i was little. she's not even real. belle, alice, ariel... i wanted to be all of them. little girls don't read magazines... they watch disney movies. disney movies with beautiful, too-skinny, perfect princesses.
what i *am* saying is that, as women, we have the power to change the way we see ourselves and i only speak out of experience. i idolized all the unattainable perfections and i am proof that you don't have to. it's ridiculous. i look amazing just the way i am, as all women who take care of their bodies do. we just need to begin to let women know that that's possible. which throws me back into the circle of where these unrealistic ideals are coming from. ...i need to get off the hamster wheel.

emmy's mom said...

Luther Vandross-The Misletoe Jam. He sings, "glad you got big feet, they're so good for dancing, glad you got big legs, cause they're so good when we're romancing". It was the first time I felt sexy having chubby thighs! I'm all for photoshop, show the big feet & make those toe nails pretty!

Michelle said...

"while it may be our job to fine-tune a frame to create what is most visually pleasing to the eye - it is not our place to reform the human body in a way that is to be depicted as what is expected of our society."

If someone is adjusting someting to make it visually pleasing to the eye- how is that different from reforming the human body to society standards..those who are doing that are making it visually pleasing to the eye also. to society's eyes.

from brushing over a few zips to taking off some under arm fat?? both are visually pleasing just depends who you ask.

how far would you go in retouching? and this day in technology? Would you touch up your pictures just to get a better job or to beat out someone else who was the same as you just for an edge? okay, just throwing some stuff out there....good post thanks love your site!