Why Women are no Longer Fooled by the Airbrushed Images they see in Magazines

Most people are familiar with computer software that allows you to digitally alter images. By using this kind software you can take a picture of your face and change its shape and your eye colour; remove any spots and blemishes; make your nose smaller and your hair longer. There are an infinite number of changes you can make to achieve ‘perfection’ and all it requires is a little patience. This is how the pictures used in magazines look so good, which is precisely what magazine editors want in order to sell their product.

Once upon a time women may have been unaware of the techniques employed by photographers and those involved in creating magazine artwork, since fewer people had access to computers, let alone programs that enabled you to completely alter pictures. The technology used for uploading pictures has improved vastly and is widely accessible. Ordinary people can afford to buy software that enables them to make changes to pictures that they have saved on their computer. The majority of people are aware of the process even if they don’t know how to use the programs themselves, as it has entered the mainstream consciousness.

With regard to the process of airbrushing in magazines there have been some celebrities who have spoken out against it, such as Kate Winslet. There have been protestations that the persistent use of images that seemingly represent ‘perfection’ can actually undermine women’s self esteem and encourage women to aspire to become something that isn’t real. It is claimed that ordinary women see the images of ultra slim models used on magazine covers and want to look like them. In some cases this may be true, but most women are not so nave as to simply accept the images as real.

You only have to consider the recent furore over a poster campaign for Ralph Lauren where an already-slim model was photoshopped so that she looked even thinner; in fact, she looked almost anorexic. The model herself spoke out against the decision to alter her appearance and the fact that there has been so much negative publicity surrounding the campaign suggests that people are not prepared to take the use of airbrushing lying down. Women are fed up with seeing unrealistic images of high-profile women who they are supposed to want to emulate, which is why a photo of a women with a slightly flabby tummy featured in a magazine recently, garnered so much positive attention and was hugely popular.

Women are very much aware that the images they are seeing are not necessarily real, as airbrushing has become a widespread practice, but that doesn’t mean seeing ‘perfection’ all the time doesn’t have some kind of impact on the way they view themselves. This is especially true of teenage girls, who are extremely susceptible to the images they are exposed to, which is one reason why magazine editors ought to be more upfront about their use of airbrushed models.