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!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Real Women? or Real Hypocrisy?

According to a New Yorker article, published in May of 2008, "Pascal Dangin is the premier retoucher of fashion photographs."  In the March 2008 issue of Vogue, 144 of images that made it into the magazine were "tweaked" by Dangin (36 fashion pictures, the cover, and 107 advertisments from clients).  Clearly, Dangin is one of the best retouchers in one of the best in the business. Here is a brief excerpt from the article:

I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual “real women” in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”
After Dove received bad press, Dangin claimed he only worked on the Dove Pro-Age campaign and only removed dusted and corrected the image colors.  Given the statement above, that seems unlikely.  Dove claims they specifically requested no retouching.  However, if the photos were edited by an expert like Dangin, how would they know? 

Unless the work is sub-par, it is impossible to know whether or not an image has been retouched.  The safe bet: if it is an image in a magazine or an advertisement, then it has been heavily retouched.


  1. Yes, I bought into this whole "real beauty campaign." Boy, do I feel stupid! I'm just glad I didn't by their products based on this. Now, I know I never will! BOYCOTT DOVE!

  2. if you boycott dove, you have to boycott every product that ever advertises

    although I think its funny that the guy who made it look better, said it was a challenge to make them look real and attractive

  3. This is just embarrassing that they market this as real women and then touch it up as much as they did.

    What are things coming to?

  4. i'm pretty thin, but i felt worse about myself when i saw this ad, even more than the skinny girls that are typically used for marketing. i couldn't understand how the "big girls" looked better in their underwear than i did... now i understand.
    it is for these very reasons that i do not own a television, and i will not read the magazines. most of it's subliminal anyway; you think you're just watching a tv show or reading a magazine, then you feel down about yourself for the rest of your life and never pointing the finger at anyone but You.
    it's sad, but it's not going away... it's advertisement.
    unfortunately, ones that reflect true reality would never present a product that you would want to buy, given that the purpose of buying it would be to make you look better or feel better than you already do. it's all an illusion, and it's done a fine job of tricking us all...