Our Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to educate our viewers about the widespread use of retouching in print publications. Retouching implies making minor changes to photographs. However, modern advances in photo editing software allow photographs of individuals to be transformed into manufactured projections of reality.

Mostly commonly, retouching is used to enhance positive characteristics of an individual, although sometimes negative aspects are emphasized. Unlike a Barbie doll or animated character, these retouched images are portrayed as living, unimagined, portrayals of individuals in society. The truth is that most of the images we see in print publications, as well as online, are just as fake as cartoons. When looking at these blog posts, try to think about the effects these images have on yourself and others, especially younger generations.We are not trying to judge the rightness or wrongness of retouching; rather, we want to increase awareness about the prevalence of retouching so that media consumers are able better construct meanings from the images they encounter.

Five Steps to Media Literacy

1. Describe - Describe media product(s) by indentifying noteworthy elements or characteristics.

2. Analyze - Look for patterns that call for closer attention. Categorize those words!

3. Interpret - Try to determine meanings of patterns. What is the connection between the categories?

4. Evaluate - Make an informed judgment about media product

5. Engage - Take some action!

After viewing our blog, we hope you feel better knowing the world often being sold to us is not as perfect as it seems. We encourage you to post comments. Thank you for visiting!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Healthy Weight Loss?

This cover of Self magazine offers insight into losing weight and looking your best "your" way.  Suggesting healthy ways to lose this weight Self features a picture of a lighter Kelly Clarkson.  In fact Kelly has lost no weight and does not plan on it.  "I'm never trying to lose weight - or gain it. I'm just being!" said Kelly.  Clearly then we can tell how everything from her neck, to her arms, and down to her waste have been dramatically toned down to fit the theme of the cover.  This is not even the real Kelly Clarkson and she does not endorse this photo as such, so how are readers supposed to?  Does this magazine serve to embrace women of all sizes even if, as in Kelly's case, they are still beautiful?


  1. This whole project is so interesting. I think the underlying question to this whole problem is: what is beauty? Can every person be beautiful? If so, then beauty becomes ordinary, and every person will want to stand out again.

    As a graduate student in both Communication and Photography, body image and consumption issues have been my topic of study for years and I feel that this is an extremely complex issue. As a photographer, I value photoshopping. I'm more concerned with body size acceptance than with showing quality of skin. So I do use this software to thin lines and fade wrinkles, but not to shrink bodies. But I can use this software on any person, not only celebrities, so does it not have the ability to empower women to see themselves looking just like celebrities?

    The problem with body image acceptance issues is that they are so complicated, but this site offers a valuable view at the variety of issues related to photoshopping. I think each one of these topics could constitute an entire thesis.

    But I would love to see a proposed answer to the question "What is beauty?" I think that is the starting point for an answer to these issues.

  2. I would say beauty is within all of us and is something very real. Retouching to the point of non-recognition seems to be masking our true, human beauty. And i think most people would say the same thing.

    However, when it comes down to saying, who is the most beautiful? We begin to rate qualities that we find more appealing in people. I feel this is natural. However, its at this point that practices like retouching elaborate these qualities, so much so that they are mere figments of what was actually true and human.

    A bit of rambling, i know...but thats a hard question!

  3. Thank you for your comments!

    I believe everyone has a different view of beauty. There is a certain artistic merit to what retouchers create. The problem, as I see it, is that these photographs are present as real beauty, rather than imagined versions of beauty; thus the importance of an awareness campaign.

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