You are on page 1of 9

Art Issues Essay Digital photo manipulation has come a long way.

But this manipulation is not always for the better. Recently, H&M Clothing created some controversy because they admitted to putting real models¶ heads on computer-generated bodies in order to advertise their clothing, according to Chen. The computer-generated body model was uniform, making alterations only to the body¶s skin tone, as opposed to attempting to be close to the actual figure of the model. This was an observation on how women are becoming more unreal in advertisements. Controversy about digital manipulations, especially in the case of female models in advertisements, has been around for quite a while. While some may argue that airbrushing models is not a bad thing, the damage is definitely there for many women. Because of advancements in photo manipulation of female models in advertisements, women have lost confidence and admiration in the society of the developed world. The painful lengths that women go to in order to achieve beauty is nothing new. The demeaning use of female models in modern and contemporary advertisements has occurred for over a century now. Earlier female models were, of course, the standard of striking beauty for their time. Their beauty would help an advertiser catch the attention of a potential customer. But ads offered more than products: they offered ideas. According to Wood, these female models maintained the perfect figure, applied a heavy amount of make-up, and made sure that they looked absolutely enviable. These ads have put a strong emphasis on a woman¶s physical beauty. In turn, these advertisements gave women a nearly-unobtainable standard that women still desired to chase towards. The beauty standard today, on the other hand, is nearly impossible. Even as several major feminist movements have gone by, a woman¶s role in advertising has not improved. Feminist

Models are almost exaggerated into caricatures of desirable bodies. states in her documentary Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women that she believes that sexism in advertisements have gotten worse than when she first started analyzing the use of women in advertisements. While it is not physically healthy for anyone to be overweight. Eyes are made larger. Most modeling agencies consider a plus-size model to be between size 6 and size 14. who has been examining the role of women in advertising since the 1970s. which blended a woman with a bottle of beer. several different women can be pieced together into one ³perfect´ woman. Sometimes. the majority of runway models today meet the physical criteria for anorexia. with the advancements in image manipulation software products such as Adobe Photoshop. To put this in perspective. pores are removed. In the documentary Wet Dreams and False Images. Photo manipulation has not only been used to enhance the model. It¶s an exaggeration that standardizes fantasy. Lucky Magazine photo retoucher Domenic Demasi talks about how he and staff members had ³pieced together a new girl´ using different images. as if to say that the two are meant to go . Exaggeration is not bad if all viewers can easily realize that the exaggeration is there.speaker Jean Kilbourne. Killing Us Softly 4 cites one advertisement for the beer Michelob. it is not mentally healthy to tell the average American woman that anorexia is the ideal. but also to blend women with that of advertised objects. and waists are made smaller. According to Rowles. leg fat is cut off. the average American woman is classified as overweight. Not to mention. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most fashion models today are much skinnier than they were just a few decades ago. female models today are given images of standards absolutely impossible to achieve. But these photos are treated as reality. which can easily affect a woman¶s body image. Piepkorn says that the average American woman is a size 14.

Because many females of all ages view airbrushed models that are impossible to replicate in reality. According to Jean Kilbourne in her documentary Killing Us Softly 4. implying that women and video games are comparable pleasures. they also believe that the advertising does not personally affect them. they are not treated as human beings. However.hand-in-hand as simple pleasures. But while most people are aware of the fact that many of the women in these advertisements are not real. many simply do not care. people do not tune commercials out. these female viewers become self- . One of the most notable results of the contemporary advertising practice is low self-esteem. only 8 percent of an advertisement is perceived by the conscious mind. A majority of a commercial is subconsciously perceived. On the contrary. These people believe that while these perceptions of beauty have a negative effect on society. it¶s very easy for an advertisement viewer to subconsciously accept the principles that advertisements give to them. Killing Us Softly 4 mentions another ad for Ché that showed a woman with a video game controller coming out of her belly button. In these tailored ads. many people are not aware of how strongly these ads engulf us. While the use of digitally-airbrushed female beauty in advertisements is easily noticeable in society. And because advertising images sell ideas. there are sadly many consequences that digital photo manipulation has had on women in society and how they are perceived. The rest is understood subconsciously. The blending of women with objects becomes a very literal and metaphorical objectification of women. especially in the contemporary period. People cannot deny the effect that advertising has had on the female self-image. but as objects of amusement similar to beer and video games. People insist that they tune out advertisements and ignore the product that some particular company was trying to sell.

while only 20 percent of women said that they would do the same if their partners gained weight. Digital enhancement has lowered the respect that women are viewed with. Twenty percent of people suffering from anorexia will die from the disease. This has been seen throughout . which could be a strong reason why women view themselves in a negative light. According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Eating disorders have claimed many lives. Women become increasingly judged by their appearance.conscious and take frustration out on themselves for not being able to replicate airbrushed beauty. Dehumanization is a common practice of prejudice. These enhanced ads have dehumanized and objectified a group of people. However. Another consequence of digital manipulation is the lowered self-esteem of women. almost 50 percent of men admitted that they would leave their partners if their partners gained weight. Johnson states that in a poll of 70. A woman¶s partner still places much more emphasis on her outer beauty than she does on his. the third most common chronic illness for adolescents is anorexia. But women are not only critical of their own image. digital manipulation has brought women back down to size. Advertisements show an unobtainable image of women. They can never be perfect. Even after various feminist revolutions of the 20th century. The self-esteem of American women has reached lows that have put their very lives at risk. emotional issues are not the only thing that women have to worry about in the era of digital manipulation. Seven million American women suffer from an eating disorder. Lowered-self-esteem has strongly contributed to the rise of eating disorders. then actions against them become more justified. Women must spend much more time to make sure that they look acceptable.000 people. This tragic disease is caused by a lack of self-esteem or control. If a group is presented as less dignified.

These advertisements create a hole that women cannot easily climb out of. that group is treated to less dignity. However. the statistics suggest that the homicide against women as the result of domestic abuse has not decreased as dramatically as homicide against men as the result of domestic abuse. with all the serious problems that come with digital manipulation. murder of women by their intimate partners is higher than the murder of men by their intimate partners. However. According to Pfanner. people are starting to grow more aware of the damage that digital manipulation has done to women. Perhaps it¶s too rash to suggest that a digitally enhanced woman in a beer advertisement promotes violence against women. Although I cannot blame the slower decline of female domestic abuse homicides on digital airbrushing. But in truth. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2003. While men are almost never given this kind of treatment. women are altered into looking more like the single perfect woman. When a group is treated to less dignity. Several European industries have developed standards in order to raise media awareness for viewers. This has widened the gender gap in a way that makes it far more dangerous to be an American woman than an American man. When an entire group¶s individuality is removed. women are suddenly more uniformly sexualized. a BBC News article stated that the Spanish Association of Fashion Designers banned models that have a BMI of less than 18. In many advertisements. the values that advertisements have been selling for years have stifled the well-being of many women in the developed world. hostility against that group can follow. Britain and . This should come as no shock.history with subjects like racism and homophobia. image alteration has certainly encouraged the objectification of women. which has dangerously led to a slower advancement of women in society. and less dignified. as domestic violence has declined. women are treated to an image manipulation that that removes their individuality. For instance. With photo editing. countries like France.

Although. But this advancement has been to the disadvantage of women. The advancement of photo manipulation has led to an entire new industry in advertisement. Women now have more expected of them in terms of beauty. then perhaps society can combat the indignity that women have received from these manipulations and preserve society for the better. viewers pick up on these ideas in a way that reshapes an entire society for the worse. and 5 being significant alteration. lowering their own self-worth. need to know that many advertising images of women are simply illusion. people like Dr. with 1 being minimal alteration. . Hany Farid have proposed to require ranking digitally-altered advertisements on a 1-to-5 scale.Norway have legislators pushing for laws that would require digitally-altered advertisement photos to be labeled. Because advertisements present ideas to viewers. it is unfortunate that many Americans do not have a full understanding of just how much photo manipulation goes into advertisement images. They are given impossible standards that they will ultimately fail at. They are locked within an undignified role that has slowed potential progress for women in society. But many people do not realize the hazards that this photo editing imposes. Lohr states that as the idea for labeling has developed. and developed societies in general. especially for images of women. Americans. In an age where it is an absolute necessity to understand the types of messages that advertisements are sending viewers. if people were to gain an awareness of how much photo manipulation goes into female bodies and just how much ideas these ads are subconsciously selling to them.

5 Jan. 2011. 2012. 18 Jan. <http://www. Johnson. Web.html>.´ PSFK.sc. Web.´ DMH. 2012. <http://www. .com/2011/12/hm-under-fire-for-usingfake-computer-generated-models.state." HuffingtonPost. Web.Chen. 8 Dec. Yi. Computer-Generated Models. 10 Jan. Margaret Wheeler.com. ³H&M Under Fire For Using Fake. 27 July 2011.psfk.htm>. PSFK. The Huffington Post.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics. ³Eating Disorder Statistics.com. "Half Of Men Say They Would Leave A Partner Who Gained Weight: Survey. South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

5 Jan. <http://www. P. <http://news. ³A Move to Curb Digitally Altered Photos in Ads. <http://shopping. "Is Plus-Size the Average Clothing Size?" AOL. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.cqpress. Jean Kilbourne. 2012. CQ Researcher. 2012. 14 Jan.pdf>.com/2011/07/27/men-leave-weightgain_n_911143.stm>. <http://www. Web. 2012. Dir. DVD. 16. Cynthia L.com. 12 Jan.html>. Pajiba. 14 Jan. 2012.´ NYTimes. The New York Times.com.fullerton. Jodi.cdc. 10 Jan. 2006. <http://www. 27 Sept. 27 Oct. 2004. 14 Jan. 6 Jan. 2012. 13 Sept. Pfanner. Web.´ BBC News.uk/2/hi/europe/5341202. 30 Oct.com. 2008. and Body Mass Index. AOL Inc.nytimes. "Side-by-Side Comparison of Average-Sized Woman with a Supermodel Will Blow Out Your Mindhole.html>. et al. Piepkorn. BBC. Height. ³Madrid Bans Waifs from Catwalks. Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women. Dustin. Prah.aol.html>. Sut Jhally. 2009. Domestic violence.co. 6 Jan. "Mean Body Weight.nytimes.huffingtonpost. The New York Times.. Retrieved from http://library.com/2009/09/28/business/media/28brush.lib-proxy. Eric. 2010. Web. 1-24.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad347. Web. 28 Nov.com/articles/2008/10/30/is-plus-size-theaverage-clothing-size/>. Web. 2012. Ogden. Web.com/2011/11/29/technology/software-to-rate-how-drasticallyphotos-are-retouched. ³Software to Rate How Drastically Photos Are Retouched.´ NYTimes.2012. Perf. Lohr.bbc. 2006. Steve.edu/cqresearcher/ Rowles." CDC. M. 2012. 2011. United States 1960-2002.com. <http://www." Pajiba.com. .gov.

tripod. Louise.pajiba. <http://barneygrant.´ Egoist.htm>.com. 2004. 5 Jan. Wet Dreams and False Images. DVD. .php>. ³Perceptions Of Female Beauty In The 20th Century.com/p-erceptions.<http://www. Wood.com/trade_news/sidebyside-comparison-of-averagesized-womanwith-a-supermodel-will-blow-out-your-mindhole. Dir. 2012. Jesse Epstein. Web. Tripod.