The Photoshop Makeover: Why Everything isn't all it Seems

by Nov 6, 2013

We all like to look our best, but when is it taken too far? When the lines between reality and fiction are so blurred that we cannot see them, do we need to step back and have a reality check?

I recently came across a campaign that thrust the power (be it good or bad) of photo editing back into the spotlight. The Body Evolution video, created in 2011 by, reveals the true ugliness of the trickery used in the press on a daily basis. The seemingly “perfect” faces that appear on our magazine shelves and pop up on our computer screens are, as we all know, often not what they seem. It’s the extent of the manipulation that has been hidden from public domain, and this, until the last few years, hadn’t been given as much airtime as I’d have hoped.


In fact, this video isn’t the first to bring the harsh reality of photoshopping into the spotlight. In 2010 Dove released a time-lapse video of a similar nature, which aimed to demonstrate the transformation of a real woman into a model, promoting the twisted misinterpretation of beauty in The Evolution of Beauty. This campaign perfectly supported Dove’s position as the champion of “Real Beauty”. In more recent campaigns Dove has proved that the message is still standing strong with its compelling series of Real Beauty Sketches, winning the highest honour award: the Titanium Grand Prix, at Cannes Lions this year. Receiving worldwide success with over 163 million aggregate views across social platforms, the campaign has become the most watched online ever.


And it’s not just Dove that have been battling digitally enhanced beauty. Currently the women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine Verily have adopted a strict ‘no Photoshop policy’, celebrating the true beauty of women of all shapes and sizes. Unlike most other magazines Verily “never alters the body or face structure” of its models or photography using software, instead choosing to celebrate “the unique features of women, whether crow’s feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body”, being “aspects that contribute to women’s beauty and should be celebrated—not shamed, changed or removed”.

Celebrities are also jumping on the bandwagon to reveal their natural sides via social media channels. Dannii Minogue and Lady Gaga, amongst others, have recently taken to Twitter to expose their bare, fresh-faced complexions. Brands and organisations have been quick to adopt this buzz-creating idea: the current BearFaced project for Children in Need shows celebrities with little make-up or photo editing, asking women across the nation to join them in a simple way to raise money. The event, which takes place this Friday – November 8th, will reveal the women’s true ‘bare beauty’.


Although we can’t be 100% certain that all press and media imagery is produced in the same manner as the Body Evolution video, we can seek comfort in the fact that there are global efforts being made to reveal the true nature of the false face.

Words by > NJ

[Images courtesy of Youtube and BBC]

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About Natalie Jahangiry

Natalie is half Persian with a Geordie accent. Although small in stature, she makes up for it with a big personality! As a Graphic Designer you will often find Natalie gushing about her passion for all things creative and sharing her ideas with everyone and anyone who will listen. If she’s not decorating her house you will find her cooking up recipes from her foodie family or propped up in a cocktail bar in town.