Student Project Shows How Photoshop Damages Beauty Perception

Anna Hill, a 24 year old student from East Carolina University is our new BFF. And perhaps some big marketing firm will snap her up after this awesome presentation she created for her final project in an advanced digital photography class.

She decided to use the opportunity to strap on her feminist cape (well, we’re imagining anyway!) and delve deeper into the photoshop issue, other than how to use it in photography post-production.

“I thought it would be fun to poke fun at how much beauty ads are overly manipulated,” she told the Huffington Post. “They really are altered so much, they may as well be advertising Photoshop rather than the products they actually sell.”


Anna, a photographer and artist, has been using photoshop for 10 years and is fascinated with the way you can manipulate images. But it of course can be a very negative thing too.

It’s no wonder clothing store H&M have vowed not to use photoshop in any more of their campaigns and show women in a more realistic fashion, after they previously had a bit of a scandal using the same tool.

And in the magazine world, when teen girls protested outside the offices of Seventeen Magazine in New York in May 2012 to force them to stop the heavy use of photoshop, the Editor in Chief of the publication actually listened to what they were saying, met with the girls and vowed to include at least one unaltered image in every edition going forward.

New lifestyle glossy, Verily Magazine, who launched in 2012 have vowed NEVER to use photoshop in any of their pages, because they say it damages young women’s ideals of what beauty and perfection actually looks like. If all we see in magazines are images of women with flawless skin and zero body fat, then doesn’t that give a clear indication that many people within fashion and advertizing are unhappy with themselves and want to project that onto the rest of society? Coz let’s be honest, we certainly have had enough of these doctored images and certainly haven’t been demanding them!


Even high profile celebs like Beyonce, Kate Winslet and Lady Gaga have given unapologetic tongue-lashings to magazines and brands for the over-use of photoshop on their images.

So what will it take for this digital program to be used appropriately and not as a means to manipulate the psyche of a consumer into thinking they are never going to be happy unless they buy X, Y and Z?

According to Dove, Photoshop teaches people their natural features are flaws. That we should strive for a false ideal of perfection.

“Photoshop is used by the advertising and mass media industries to sell something that, oftentimes, does not exist in reality.”

Israel implemented a Photoshop Law on January 1st, 2013, after the death of an Israeli model in 2007 from an eating disorder shed light on just how many young girls in the country are suffering in the same way. The two-part legislation includes regulations on underweight models as well as limits to digital alterations of advertisements. The law requires any ad agency to disclose if photos of models underwent Photoshop alteration to make the subjects appear thinner.

Wouldn’t it be great if every country followed suit?

Check out the images Anna created and we hope it will challenge you, especially if you work in the key industries using photoshop on images of people, to not be sucked into what advertiser try and push upon you. Be willing to go a little deeper, and examine the bigger implications of falsifying images.

Perhaps we can all start important conversations like Anna, and create a greater sense of awareness of what is holding us back from confidence, and positive body images.



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