09/06/2012 11:39 am ET Updated Nov 06, 2012

With Reverse Airbrushing, A Picture's Worth 1,000 Calories

What? You didn't get the memo? Ladies, you are supposed to be unnaturally thin -- but with full Cs and a round, tight butt, and bounce-a-quarter-off-you, all-over muscle tone. But we know this may be difficult to achieve, so just starve yourself down to a size 00 and let your stylist fix you up with some chicken cutlets, a water bra, tummy Spanx, jeans with built-in butt-lifting technology, and six-inch platforms to add a nice curve to your nonexistent ass. And hair extensions to compensate for the balding that occurs when your dinner consists of romaine lettuce. And Juvederm to plump up your hungry, hollowed-out cheeks.

Oh, and guess what? If you somehow manage to achieve the Herculean feat of dieting down to your preschool weight, you still will not be good enough and will require copious amounts of airbrushing. Reverse airbrushing, that is. Yes, now models and actresses are being touched up in the opposite direction, having their collarbones smoothed, cheeks and arms plumped, hips padded and more.

As model manager and publicist Nadja Atwal told, "These poor girls (models) have been forced to lose the very curves that the general public wants in order to find a woman attractive. So when you do a sexier shoot with a skinnier girl, you have got to basically add volume via retouching where there is no volume in reality."

A talent manager also told Fox's "Pop Tarts" column, "I have to airbrush clients' to make them appear bigger and more womanly before I submit photographs. Skinny doesn't sell."

Cameron Diaz has been on the receiving end of the reverse-airbrushing wand, getting her hip bones softened; Penelope Cruz had her sharp collarbone smoothed. And to be totally honest, I myself have been reverse-retouched -- in my body image book jacket photo, of all places! (Collarbone was softened.)

In 2008, the head of PR at one major publishing conglomerate admitted, "There have been cases where models are booked way ahead of a shoot and then they turn up two months later looking less healthy and perhaps a bit underweight. We wouldn't be happy showing them that way, so it is then that we would need that person to look a little bit fuller.

We've come full circle: We tell women to lose weight, exercise, burn fat, get thin... And when they do, we continue to beat them down with the message that they're not good enough by reverse-airbrushing them.

A few other asinine retouching phenomena:

Baby Airbrushing
Babies are cute and all. Well, except for their pudgy necks. And the spittle that pools in the corners of their mouths. And the inverted nipples. That umbilical cord scab can be kind of nasty. Uneven fingernails. Dimply butts. Baby acne. Ooh, and those veins that you can see through the skin on their forehead? And their faces get all splotchy when they cry. Gross. Luckily, thanks to the wonders of technology, your little one's imperfections can be digitally eradicated in her one-year birthday photos, thanks to baby airbrushing. She can look back at her baby pics and rest easy knowing she was born with slender, gazelle-like, eight-inch-long gams.

Racial Airbrushing
Black skin too dark? There's an app for that! It's called racial airbrushing -- magazines can take a perfectly gorgeous African-American singer like Beyoncé or actress like Gabourey Sidibe and lighten her skin tone... for no apparent reason. OJ Simpson started the trend, but in reverse.

Navel Airbrushing
Born without a belly button like Victoria's Secret model Karolina Kurkova? No problemo! We'll just hop over to the more navel-y blessed Alessandra Ambrosio, copy, cut and paste! Et voila!

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