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Broken Beauty | by Matt Lindley
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Broken Beauty

I'm really tired of all the Photoshop debates. Just as one dies down, another fires up. Get used to it, people. Photoshop (and/or similar apps) are here to stay. There is no going back. All these debates do is hurt a company that produces a good piece of software. Granted, their pricing structure sucks; but, Photoshop is not the problem.


I hear what people are saying and I understand the arguments. They are valid - almost. Here, I'm not talking about the place of Photoshop in journalism - I think most everyone will agree that Photoshop use in journalism should be extremely limited. No, I'm talking about the use of Photoshop to create supernatural ideals of beauty. See, the problem isn't the tool. It's the audience. If you don't like how women are portrayed in magazines and advertisements, then QUIT BUYING THE DAMN MAGAZINES. Quit purchasing products from companies that promote unrealistic goals of what has come to be the "gold standard of beautiful." Write those companies and tell them what you want to see. Write the magazines and tell them you have had enough. If you don't like how your daughters are being taught to view their own bodies, you have only yourselves to blame. All of us. We made this world. Don't like it, then change it. Just do it the right way.


Recently, a young girl petitioned a magazine to quit using Photoshop on their models. I applaud her motivation, but not her message, exactly. The petition should have had nothing to do with Photoshop. It should have dealt with the reasons why the magazine uses Photoshop the way it does.


Look at it this way. Let's say you don't like fast food. Going after the fast food companies is stupid and futile. You will never win. If you want to be healthier, don't eat the crap. Get off your ass and exercise. Don't support media that promotes fast food. Educate yourself and your family. If you manage to bring down one fast food chain (yeah, right), several more will eagerly pop up to fill the gap.


The only way to change the supply is to change the demand. Period. Our current concepts of beauty were not always like this. Photoshop didn't change it. I don't really believe that magazines, television, or movies did, either - though they certainly helped it along. We changed what we consider to be beautiful. If the media promotes the wrong ideals, it's because we allow and encourage them to do so - by buying the magazines and products and by watching the television shows and movies.


No, it's not simple. It never is. It is, however, the only viable course of action. If you don't want your children buying in to the BS that to be beautiful a woman has to have enormous fake breasts, a perfectly straight nose, and be so skinny that you can count her ribs, then attack the sources of the problem (all of us), not the tools used to give the audience what they want - or what the advertising departments think that the audience wants.


In other words, take responsibility for yourselves. Yep. I said it. Radical idea, I know.


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Taken on May 5, 2012