Photo Credit: Hoax Films/RCA/Vevo
Whether it’s smoothing away Madonna’s wrinkles, making Ralph Lauren models too thin to have internal organs or giving Venus a butt lift, almost every picture we see in the media has been altered toward an incredibly narrow stereotype of beauty.
What many people don’t know is that Photoshop goes way beyond photos. Movies and music videos get their share of retouching too -- noses are straightened, thighs are de-jiggled and humanly-impossible features are created in Technicolor.
The retouching of bodies is so ubiquitous that it's rare to see an un-enhanced body in photos or film. Leslie Gornstein recently took a rare look behind the scenes of the video retouching industry.
She learned that what we would see if we were at a shoot is definitely not what we see on our TV and movie screens. It’s not just waist whittling and wrinkle removal -- it’s jawline building, bald spot filling and ab creating. But if none of this comes as a surprise to any of us, who is this facade for and why so much secrecy about it? The photo retoucher Gornstein spoke to insisted on complete anonymity (including not using his name, not mentioning clients or mentioning any previous work). Who are you fooling?
The answer is a vicious cycle that hurts us all in the end. On one hand the public has completely unrealistic expectations for what we want stars to look like, even though we know they don't really look like that. If they fail to meet those standards we punish them with “Worst Bikini Body” and “Who Wore it Worst” articles. In an attempt to meet the unrealistic expectations and give us what we want, stars turn to digital retouching, but they want to keep it hidden, thereby reinforcing the unrealistic expectations, which hurts the public because we then hold ourselves to the unrealistic expectations. Meanwhile, there are amazing singers, actors and dancers who we never get to see because, even with retouching, they can’t reach an arbitrary and unrealistic look that has actually nothing to do with their ability to sing, act or dance. Sigh.