Retouching. It touches us all. For managing editor Iskra Lawrence’s take on overly retouched fashion photos and how they spill over into social media, see our video.
Jean Kilbourne, expert on the image of women, told us that women’s image has actually gotten worse since she started studying it in the ’60s because of retouching. As with many a famous woman, airbrushers refine, reduce, and reimagine women with slimmer waists and larger yabbos.
Here you’ll find the worst scandals of the retouching over the last decade. Think of the otherworldly glow, and the illogical but distinctive crevice-free armpits as a sign that not even famouses could ever look like the heavily retouched women the media promotes. What are some of the most high-profile cases of missing limbs? To answer that, we have a timeline for a new 2016 when a critical mass of women are demanding unretouched images. (Stay tuned for our upcoming unretouched fashion shoots.)
Here are some of the Photoshop “scandals” over the last decade.
Celebrated master of vibes that are creepy, Terry Richardson photographed Queen Mariah Carey for Wonderland magazine. It was quickly unearthed that the photo was retouched.
The damage: waistline slimmed, boobs made to appear larger, soft stomach curves smoothed, skin tone bronzed, jawline brought in. We prefer natural shots, but we also think a very clever use of Photoshop would be to remove Terry and his thumbs from all photos ever. Even if they’d be SO much less edgy without his name attached to them. Pour one out for loss of Terry’s edginess.
Vogue’s Vogue, which is why Lena Dunham experienced some minor and highly documented Photoshop surgery in Annie Liebovitz’s photos. Jezebel offered ten grand for the person who could send them the unretouched image. The final product showed higher waist definition, slimmer jaw, slimmer middle, slimmer neck, and more cleavage coverage. As far as retouching-happy glossy magazines go, this was body “improvement” lite. Lena Dunham has thrown the vaguest of shade at Jezebel on the show, which came out around the same time as this news of how they made her cleavage look different dropped. Anyhoo, if you want Lena Dunham in all her glory, peep Instagram or her show.
Versace made some tweaks to Lady Gaga, as we can see from the O.G. photos. The damage: In the highly talked about Miami housewife-style campaign, gone were her knee bruises and eye baggies. She was color corrected, and her arms were slimmed. They also made her hair look more “natural” except they did it unnaturally, and they went for platinum blonde.
The damage: another case of the missing leg in Vogue China. This was likely due to the fact that a typical flotation device cannot support a woman with two whole legs.
Whoever retouched this ad whittled this slim, beautiful woman down…way, way down. Thanks for the memories of her old self Ralph. See you in a mahogany boat speeding down to hell. Hope you’ll be in denim on denim.
Rolling Stone decided Katy Perry’s pictures could use a thing or to in order to look more appealing. The damage: larger bust, smoother skin, no more moles, no underarm lines, and overall slimmer appearance. Score another one for pictures no one can relate to, including the woman herself.
The unretouched photo of Kim Kardashian accidentally (LOL) showed up on Complex’s site. In the retouched version, far less of her was to be found. Kim’s response turned up on her web site, where she has the final word about things: “So what? I have a little cellulite. What curvy girl doesn’t? How many people do you think are Photoshopped? It happens all the time! I’m proud of my body and my curves, and this picture coming out is probably helpful for everyone to see that just because I am on the cover of a magazine doesn’t mean I’m perfect.”
This search and destroy mission for anything resembling natural beauty still stands out. Two matching legs is something even a woman like Demi Moore can only ask Santa for. Seriously, what about this W magazine cover included Demi Moore other than her name? That was the question readers posed, and they also theorized that W put her head on the body of a model. Do chime in below.
Oh British GQ. Could ya not? This magazine made Kate Winslet appear slimmer on the cover, but the mirror, which also made it to print, seemed to tell the truth? But perhaps we should be grateful they decided her natural bod wasn’t cover worthy. Because she spoke up about it with a phrase that is forever burned in our brain. “I don’t look like that and I don’t desire to look like that.” Queen. Cue Christina Aguilera singing about this in the movie Mulan “when will my reflection show…”
Dove made the awesome move to feature a multi-ethnic campaign with body diversity to sell firming lotions. The models were non-models. It was supposed to “change the way society views beauty,” according to Dove. Pascal Dangin told The New Yorker: “Do you know how much retouching was on that? But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.” Dove denied this.
Let’s bend the rules and give a special shout out to TV Guide. They put Oprah Winfrey’s head on a totally different white woman’s bod. We cannot count the ways this deranges us because it’s impossible for us to narrow it down to the top 100, so we’ll leave it at that.