The best way to get a room full of people to agree with you these days, it seems, would be to hate on Photoshop. From outrage-sparking viral videos that expose rampant airbrushing practices to Internet-wide cheers for unretouched photos, it seems pretty clear where the public stands on the issue.
Except that the debate isn't as clearcut as it seems. Is Photoshopping always a misguided decision? A recent episode of "Cosmo Live," Cosmopolitan.com's web series, took up the question with male model CJ Richards, who joined a panel of the magazine's editors to talk all things airbrushing.
"I feel like it's been going on since the film world," Richards said. "Why would you watch a movie without special effects? You understand that this isn't real. There's Photoshop in magazines and special effects in movies. I mean, it happens. So accept it and know that this is actually a real person underneath all of the computerized effects that they're adding in."
Yes, that part is true: We're more aware of airbrushing than we've ever been -- as Richards puts it, most people looking at ads and magazines these days probably do understand "this isn't real." But putting the onus on viewers to separate truth from fiction, rather than having editors present truth in the first place, not only seems irrational and inefficient. It also allows for damaging effects to creep in when some readers do fail to understand what they're seeing isn't real.
Richards himself admitted that society would be better off without retouching. "Being in the industry, I see a lot of people with disorders, mental disorders and eating disorders. It's really sad and I hate that," he told Cosmopolitan.com. Constant bombardment with images of so-called perfect bodies has been shown to negatively affect not only readers and consumers, but also the models themselves.
As aerie model Amber Tolliver told Elle.com, "To recreate a human being using a computer process is a bit of an attack on who you naturally are. Like, if I'm not good enough or if I'm not beautiful enough, then why'd you book me?"
The option of looking a little smoother, a little slimmer and a little more flawless breeds self-doubt and insecurity among the models in question. As Tolliver admitted, "I do like to see a little retouching on myself. I mean, any normal person is slightly insecure about little things on their body, and you can blink an eye and poof it's gone [in retouching], great."
But regular non-model individuals like us don't have that option, meaning we have to make peace with the bodies we've got. As Richards puts it, "You've got to understand that they're not inferior, you're not superior. We're all on the same page." But that realization might be easier to come to without being surrounded by airbrushing all the time.
Do you think retouching is an unfortunate reality we should just accept? Watch the Cosmopolitan.com video above and give us your take.
More models spreading positivity: