Is Photo-retouching Really Necessary?

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Photoshop Vs. RawWhen I was growing up and starting to take an interest in beauty and fashion, looking through magazines with glossy ads and dazzling photographs of perfect people, was one of my typical pastimes, just like it is for many adolescents.  At that tender age it is common for girls (and boys) to feel self-conscious as their bodies change and hormones run wild. And so, like a normal teenage girl, I wished for thinner thighs, clearer skin, and smoother hair.  I thought that to be beautiful, you must be perfect, like the models in the magazines.

As I got a little older, and started my career in the entertainment industry, I discovered the tricks of the trade used in advertising and fashion industries, and that magic wand called Photoshop that can almost instantly transform a duckling into a swan.  I’ve been in photo sessions where the photographer assistant’s skilled hand moved so quickly over the image with that magic pen, that I hardly recognized myself.  Cinched waistline, longer legs, flawless skin, thinner arms, perfectly chiseled nose, were all created on the spot!  Not that I was complaining at the time, after all, I was one of those perfect people on the cover of the magazine now.

Photoshop Vs. RawAnother time, looking at our finished photo set with my photographer for a magazine cover, he mentioned his plan to make me look thinner in the shots.  I was shocked to hear that because I was already slender and wouldn’t want to be any skinnier. I looked healthy, and I liked it, but that’s not what the fashion world wants.

And so it went, for the last decade, as I was playing my part in this charade, to fool the masses into buying, believing, wanting, craving, and wishing.  I’ve participated in this facade by posting my retouched, perfected photos on social media, declaring that this is the real me.   After a while, it started getting to me. I would look at the raw photos and like them better than the retouched final versions.  Some of them looked like paintings or computerized versions of me.  It was just so fake! It was not the real me.

Bon Cafe AdSuddenly, I feel compelled to break out of this fantasy world, and show the true me, in the hopes that young girls can understand that models are not perfect, that they have flaws, but they are still beautiful.  That’s why I am sharing some of my un-retouched photos to show how false advertising can be.  Of course, I think that slight retouching, like removing a blemish or wrinkle on the dress, adjusting the light and shadows, is perfectly ok.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see natural and real models grace the covers of magazines and ad campaigns? Couldn’t we all relate more to that?

I think that photo-retouching which makes the skin look unnaturally flawless, changing facial features, and thinning out the body, is unnecessary and sends the wrong message.

Photoshop Vs. RawSince entering my 30’s  I’ve been increasingly enjoying my natural look, as I became more interested in things outside of modeling, such as healthy living (and blogging about it), music, writing, yoga and nutrition.  I find myself going for days without much makeup, and wearing flats instead of high heels.  I enjoy being more natural and even prefer to see myself in the mirror in my workout gear, hair tied up, and no makeup to the way I look when I’m all dolled up for a photoshoot.

I want to pass on the message to women of all ages – to not buy into the commercial idea of beauty, but to find your own, through your passions and interests, through your family and great friends, and through embracing being natural, real, and flawed.

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