There's been a lot of discussion lately about the damaging effects of Photoshop. With all of the media attention the topic receives, some could assume that the use of Photoshop on the vast majority of people seen in magazines, on movie posters and in advertisements is common knowledge. But according to a recent One Poll survey, many people still don't fully understand the puppeteering that goes on behind computer screens.
The UK survey, done on behalf of New Look clothing line, polled over 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 65 on various aspects of female body image. The findings were somewhat disheartening.
Fifteen percent of 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed, were convinced that the images of models and celebrities in advertisements, magazines and billboards accurately depict what these women look like in real life. Differentiating between Photoshop and real life is hard enough when a woman is aware of the airbrushing that probably went on; it becomes much harder when she isn't even given the basic facts.
And of course, just knowing about photoshopping doesn't necessarily lessen the negative impact manipulated images can have on a woman's self-esteem. Over 650 of the survey's participants said that they struggled with confidence issues, reporting that they "are unconfident to extremely unconfident about their body." And 24 percent of women reported they were still unconfident about their bodies when in traditionally safe spaces, such as hanging out with female friends.
The survey's findings also drove home just how damaging showing a limited range of "ideal" body types and photoshopped images is to women's perceptions of their own figures. One Poll reported that "33% of the women polled also feel the body they aspire towards is not possible for them to achieve."
As the wonderful Lady Gaga said in response to her photoshopped cover of Glamour earlier this month: "It is fair to write about the change in your magazines. But what I want to see is the change on your covers... When the covers change, that's when culture changes." Celebrities and models already start out with more makeup, hairspray and glitter than the rest of us. Photoshop is just another tool used to distort not only our perceptions of their beauty, but more importantly, of our own.
No one is immune to the beauty propaganda we come in contact with every day. And while we can try our best to change our individual perceptions, the responsibility shouldn't fall on our shoulders.