Photoshop isn’t all bad, just mostly bad

Yep, you read that right. I’m going to give you an argument for Photoshop. I did it last year too. See here.

It’s not an all things considered argument in favour. The balance of reasons is probably against. After all, we complain a lot about Photoshop here on the blog. But there’s not nothing on the other side. There are some considerations, well one anyway other than aesthetic appreciation of beauty however fake, in favour of Photoshop.

What’s the argument? Well, for models anyway Photoshop can make things easier.

In Secrets of a Victoria Secrets Photoshopper the author talks about all that goes on before Photoshop even. The models, for example, all wear push up bras with padding under the bathing suits. Which makes sense because they are all really thin. And you pretty much can’t be that thin and still have large breasts. Low body fat is low body fat.

You could surgically alter the models, or you could have them wear padded bras (they Photoshop out the bra straps), or go the full route of Photoshopping in their breasts. I don’t see that one is worse than the other.

If we’re open about this we should minimize the pressure to look like a Victoria Secrets model because even the models don’t look like that really.

Back to the case for Photoshop. My son used to hang out with some teen models who were fans. Photoshop took the pressure off perfection. Thigh gaps? Don’t worry.  They can just Photoshop in a thigh gap later. It’s true they were all thin and beautiful. But they were also big fans of digitally touching up photos. It removed the pressure to actually look that way.

Soon we can just leave out real people altogether and go with digital imagery. Why bother with human models at all? I teach a class on digital ethics and one of the topics that interests the students is the ethics of robot sex, which apparently will become real common real soon. Ditto virtual reality sex. Perfection in pixels.

So we can remove human models, and minimize sex with actual humans to avoid disappointment after getting used to digital imagery and the pressure for people to have their bodies surgically altered to look that will be minimized.

I didn’t say it was a feel good happy argument but it’s an argument.

One thought on “Photoshop isn’t all bad, just mostly bad

  1. I do a fair bit of photography, so for me photo retouching is a fact of life. That life hews more to the journalism ethos, though, so the idea that it would make sense to use it to create a thigh gap just seems weird. I sort of understand that for brands that aren’t actually trying to show us people but instead developing a brand and a product. It’s annoying but understandable. Except with the growing pressure on individuals to think of themselves as brands and project branding-style images, a phenomenon that has roots in the (highly problematic) self-help movement and has been supercharged by social media.

    It’s especially sad to think of young women embracing Photoshop as a way to escape “the pressure to look like that,” which obviously isn’t working! It’s too bad that the energy to learn those tricks and to make those convoluted rationalizations for doing so are so hard to shift into sincerely not feeling that pressure.

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