Warning: Airbrushing may be harmful to your health

Should magazines be forced to disclose the extent to which they have airbrushed their models? That’s the question being addressed in this New York Times video, "Sex, Lies and Photoshop." Take a look – it gets particularly interesting around minute 2:00 when we learn – straight from the retoucher himself – how a recent Lucky Magazine cover model is actually one woman’s head on another woman’s body.

What do we think? Should laws surrounding retouching go the way of tobacco, with warning boxes notifying us that “This model has had her thighs slimmed and her freckles lightened.” I mean, we already know it’s happening, but it’s oh-so-easy to forget that as we page through bikini features and cellulite cream ads and Victoria’s Secret catalogs (actually, I think that under such a law, VS would become just one gigantic black and white warning.) Having a little “ALERT!” box would keep us cognizant of the artsy tweaking that is so subtly effing us up mentally. (And it IS messing you up, whether you realize it or not. Remember the recent University of Missouri-Columbia study in which all women, regardless of their body size, shape, height or age, reported feeling like garbage after viewing pics of models in magazine ads for just three minutes?) That might mean something as seemingly innocuous as the removal of Danica Patrick's tattoo gets a warning; as would the mind-numbing waist-cinching of Jessica Alba.

But to play retoucher/devil’s advocate, wouldn’t this kind of law actually be letting the magazines off the hook a bit? They’d still be altering the images, after all. I hardly feel like the cigarette warnings on Camel Light boxes are doing anything to deter smokers from inserting deadly cancer sticks into their yaps and inhaling. And yet the mere fact that they have those warnings allows them to continue getting away with selling a death sentence. Wouldn't an "airbrush alert" law be similar?

Your thoughts? Also, I encourage you to post links to your fave/most-hated airbrushed pics!

Oh, and lest we think only women get visually nipped and tucked, check out France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his disappearing love handles!

PS Thanks to NeverSayDiet reader bdaiss for letting me know about this!

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