Digitally Altered Perfection
“Hook me up with a great photographer… and an expert re-toucher, and together we can create a beautiful illusion.“
-- Heidi Klum, model
For a long time now, body image has been a major issue and still, today, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In today’s technological world and with the development of photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, everyone with the accessibility and capability can edit and manipulate their images into what they desire. People are using these tools to create a false sense of reality and morph themselves into something completely different to the truth. They are striving for digitally altered perfection.
Previous to the creating of such software as Photoshop, body image was a very old but still relevant issue. Humans, for a long time now, have been constantly striving for an unattainable perfection, especially in terms of their bodies. People make themselves suffer, make their bodies suffer and make others around them suffer, all in the hopes of achieving that ‘perfect’ body. But, who determines what is perfect? Before the 1900s, the ideal body shape was a curvaceous woman, while in the 1920s, the desired body shape was thin and shapeless. Similarly, in the 1950s, women strived for a shapely figure, but with the introduction of skinny models in the 1960s, the ideal and ‘perfect’ shape changed again and has seemed to stay like this until today. What is deemed ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ changes so often that it is impossible to pinpoint any one person as the ‘determiner’ of what is perfect. The question now is, instead of blaming someone, should we be trying to change people’s negative perceptions of themselves? Furthermore, should we be controlling the use of tools, such as Photoshop, that allow these unattainable and perfect images to emerge?
My images explore the obsession society has with digitally altering oneself in order to achieve perfection. My main inspiration came from Vee Spears’ photographic series; Immortals. Her work was relevant to my chosen topic and had a similar technique and idea to what I had too. Her models are edited to look perfect and flawless and then placed in fantasy-like scenes. Similarly, my models were edited using Photoshop so that the right side of their bodies was ‘perfect’. To help me determine what is considered ‘perfect’ and what ‘flaws’ are, I looked at numerous images, articles and commentaries in magazines and on the internet. This allowed me to identify and adopt these ‘perfect’ characteristics and apply them to my images. In addition to the perfect side, I kept the left side of my models’ bodies untouched as I wanted to demonstrate that although a lot goes into making them ‘perfect’, the other side looks just as good.
This issue, although not exclusively, affects mainly young women and teenagers and this is why I chose to use three young women as my subjects. The young women that I chose are all beautiful in their own ways but they also have flaws, just like everyone else. Although subtle in its editing, a lot was done to make the ‘perfect’ side seem flawless. To give you a brief idea, my models, with the help of my amateur Photoshop training and a few online tutorials, went through procedures involving their stomachs, belly buttons, arms, shoulders, collar bones and chests, chin and jaw lines, noses, eyes, lips, eyebrows, hair and skin. It may seem like an excessive amount but think of all the people who stand in front of a mirror and go through a similar checklist in their head. And, now, thanks to Photoshop, we can achieve this falseness and strive for that beautiful illusion called digitally altered perfection.