Photo editing may be one of the most common and pervasive tools in modern media. You can’t scroll far through your Insta feed without running into pictures that have been filtered and processed in apps for contouring, body shaping, and other manipulations.
It’d be easy to shrug your shoulders at something that seems interwoven with fashion, consumerism, and overall western 21st century culture. However, understanding a bit of what happens beyond the lense can keep the weight of unrealistic expectations at bay while humanizing models.
BuzzFeed’s infamous Try Guys hopped behind the camera to expose their skin and some Photoshop truths while recreating classic Photoshop disaster pics. Here are a few takeaways to keep you grounded instead of grading your own worth and beauty by these farce images.
Everything has been photoshopped. “Like, all of it. Unless an ad specifically says ‘This has not been photoshopped,’ I can guarantee it has been photoshopped,” said BuzzFeed Lifestyle Editor Chrissy Mahlmeister. If everything’s been photoshopped, then it’s hard not to compare your raw selfies to the mountains of carefully crafted content out there.
Unrealistic standards have been around for a while. Photoshop definitely carries its fair share of blame when it comes to harmful beauty standards, but the idea of telling women how to look predates the digital era. Just a few decades ago, men were literally drawing their idealized versions of women for advertisements rather than photoshopping them. Through the years, different body types have trended as well, meaning that no timeless, objective rule of beauty exists.
Not all the work happens post-production. Some of the Try Guys were shocked at the 45 minutes they had to spend with just the makeup team before the photoshoot. This, combined with lighting setups, professional equipment, highly-trained photographers, and meticulously planned poses, all come before the photoshopping even begins.
It’s their job. It’s incredibly unfair to hold your body to the same standard of people who make careers out of working on their bodies. Like athletes, it’s a model’s job to be in exceptional physical condition. Often this means they’ve got the resources for personal trainers, chefs, and the time groom beyond your average Tuesday out-the-door routine. They’re also used to criticism, something you shouldn’t have to fear if you didn’t get the right angle on a social media picture.Even celebrities are weirded out by it. Mahlmeister pointed out that even celebrities she’s been around see their photoshopped pictures and wished they looked like that. “The most shocking part might be after you see the Photoshop version of yourself, you basically have seen what someone wished that you look like,” Mahlmeister said. “It’s so hard to not let that affect you.”