Retouching of celebrities’ photos: creating a better effect
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3. Literature Review………………………………………………………………………5
4. Initial Hypothesis………………………………………………………………………15
5. Research Methods……………………………………………………………………..15
6. Research Results……………………………………………………………………….16
8. References……………………………………………………………………………… 24
This paper is to discuss the ethical issue of retouching of photos nowadays. The question is to be viewed in two primary dimensions: models’ images and people’s photo posts in social networks. It is necessary to discuss how people view various retouching techniques and what effect models’ perfect images have on the society in general. The comparative method is implemented for the analysis of original and manipulated pictures, whereas people’s attitudes towards the phenomenon are detected in the form of quantitative survey conducted on a photo platform online. The initial hypothesis that there is a certain level of discrepancy between male and female posting habits online, is finally proven in the current research and the moral issue of retouching itself is proven to be a matter of individual choice and decision.
Photography represents a unique kind of visual art which has allowed people throughout the centuries to reflect the reality, look at themselves from the side. This sphere has significantly evolved since the times of emergence and therefore, one has nowadays a wide range of opportunities and options to take pictures, process and subsequently use them. Whereas it was a kind of family traditions to have photo albums in their homes, it has become now very popular to create virtual albums, photosets and further promote them in social networks and online. One important issue and question remain the same: the quality of photos, their ability to demonstrate one’s appearance in the best possible way. People have always strived for obtaining the best pictures they could smiling, posing and correcting their overall appearance. The phenomenon of modern digital cameras and high-quality photos is rather controversial due to the possibility to obtain an excellent image with accurate colors and no drawbacks on the one side and too precise demonstrations of one’s skin problems, deviating forms and other details on the other. Chasing for perfection has resulted in further introduction of various software types, applications which allow users to improve their pictures, add the desired effects and conceal the unwished details. This kind of improvement has been termed in a different way: photo editing, retouching, restoration and others. There is a significant difference between all these concepts and this paper is to address the recent controversy which has arisen among the talented and famous photographers, artists and directors. The question is whether photos of celebrities on magazine covers or other public resources should undergo the procedure of retouching or whether it is necessary for them to demonstrate their real appearance. Fans of famous people want to be like their idols, look for better cosmetic means, start physical training and even undergo operations, but the truth is that most of the magazine photos are retouched and one should pay a great attention to the issue of illusion and even deceit to some extent. At first, the notion and explanation of the phenomenon of retouching are to be provided in order to discover the main difference between above-mentioned terms used for designation of improvement in photography. It is very important to emphasize on the specification of this technique on digital material and cameras.
3. Literature Review
of the secondary sources and analysis of existing viewpoints regarding the question of photo retouching for celebrities, will allow to receive a better insight into the question and find the correct direction for further investigation. Numerous studies and researches have been conducted in order to the current issue from different perspectives: some of them have treated the question of retouching as aesthetical one, others a serious moral contradiction and others mover superficially. The
most important aspect has been always the influence of such editing techniques on the public perception, young people’s self-esteem and overall notion of perfection within the modern community. The final objective of this research is to summarize whether retouching of photos is positive, neutral or negative social phenomenon in modern times. Thus, a detailed investigation is needed in order to provide an answer to the open question. Correll (2010) presents a book of a professional photographer who has gained a lot of experience in the sphere of photo editing. Already the book title provides a clear distinction between restoration and retouching. The fundamental factor which underlies this discrepancy, is the nature of a photo itself. According to the author of the book, both notions refer to the artistic endeavors, because they allow one to change a picture for the better, follow the beauty ideal and eventually, make changes in color, contrast, light and the entire composition of work. This book treats retouching and editing techniques s positive phenomena due to increasing of technical opportunities and progress in this sphere. Whereas the photo restoration refers to the digital repairing of damaged and old pictures, issues with already printed pictures, photo retouching is connected with the digital photos. This distinction is clearly stated at the beginning of the paper in order to prevent from further misunderstanding or ambiguity in the discussion of the topic. Such materials as digital photo works, do not have problems with faded colors or torn photo paper, but such aspects as poo coloring, sharpness and lighting and others require a certain correction. Therefore, new technologies and software have been introduced in order to allow a professional to improve the overall quality of produced images. The author admits that a minimal retouching is necessary in almost all cases: “one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned with digital photos is that even good ones need our heling hand to look their best. Don’t think of photo retouching as only making bad photos better. It’s not”. Such a position regarding the technique is also convincing and professionals can allow themselves to consistently improve their photos, but to a sufficient and optimal extent only. Real professionals know how to highlight and improve specific details, but at the same time, leave a photo natural and close to original. However, not all people use the retouching applications rationally and frequently misuse the possibility to create a visual ideal for others. There is an unofficial competition in networks where everyone tries to amaze, shock, post another sensational photo. Therefore, today’s generation pays high attention to the improvement of their photos and image overall. Such a technique as filtering has been widely used by all age groups and therefore, people cannot imagine posting a new image without implementation of specific filters and effects.
Another term for retouched or reshaped photos has been used in literature and it is the word ‘manipulated’ which is used to designate such edited pictures. Negative connotation of this term suits to the current discussion due to the fact that ‘perfect’ Instagram photos can manipulate with people’s lives. Anschuetz et al. (2018) have conducted a study with 144 girls this year and the results of the experiment have demonstrated that young people perceive the manipulated photos much better than original ones, even though the addition of effects is detected. When looking at a picture, human brain counts that a certain effect could be already involved and therefore, people are used to unnaturally bright colors, effective backgrounds and unusual settings in their photos. Retouching has become a kind of mastery which everyone tries to improve and develop. Besides, girls at the age 14-18 years, do not notice the reshaping of bodies very well and tend to consider such pictures rather realistic. A parallel connection to the magazine covers can be provided, because it has become rather easy for modern photographers to edit their works without any kind of significant deviation or noticeable visual defects. It is possible to make one rather skinny and adapt any small details in the necessary way. Problematic side of such an online activity must be also discussed in order to see how retouching can impact the entire life of an online user. Negative influence of perfect pictures harms the shaping of young people’s mindset, values and understanding of beauty. “In particular, both critics and fans frequently blame celebrities and models for using photo enhancement and retouching techniques. Hence, they normalize an unrealistic body ideal, which is problematic as they serve as role models for girls and young women”. Therefore, there is a new trend in the today’s social and printed media: some photographers and celebrities refuse from such an enhancement of photos in order to support the public interests and show their real appearance and body shape. The authors of the study also mention the so-called negative contrast theory which explains why retouched photos have a negative effect on the society. According to this approach, a woman can experience a great contrast between herself and idealized, thin models with a perfect figure. This leads to a rather low body satisfaction, decreased self-esteem and people start feeling much worse than they could. They introduce even such a concept as “thinness fantasy” that emphasizes unrealistic nature of such social attitudes. It is important to correctly communicate aesthetic and ethical values to the public. Manipulative techniques include editing of faces, body, reshaping of legs, removal of eye bags, impurities, wrinkles, providing a thinner waist. These are the most frequently used effects for altering of pictures, whereas improvement of brightness, color intensity and stronger shadows remain basic traditional actions in this regard. Whereas lower self-esteem and problems with one’s self-perception remain rather light psychological difficulties, there is another negative effect of photo manipulation – disordered eating behavior. This kind of deviation performs a high potential threat to one’s life and further physical development. Unlike the previously discussed study on the Instagram content, Bush Hitchon et al. (2004) refer particularly to the magazine photos and photographers’ choices nowadays. They discuss the phenomenon of retouching in the context of serious ethical dilemma, stating that two moral principles are involved in this discussion: artistic freedom of choice on the one hand and media deception on the other. There is a conflict between professionals’ idea and aesthetical understanding of ideal women with physiological development of modern women whose ideals are also shaped by the content from magazines, newspapers, television and videos. According to their primary discussion, it has been quite conventional in fashion magazines, to throw a minimal digital pixie dust in order to make models’ eyes bluer, legs and waist slimmer, hair shinier and teeth whiter. This kind of tweaked pictures has been also labeled as a phenomenon of dark art. Therefore, rather active discussions and disputes regarding the topic have been frequently evoked in the society in order to solve this social conflict and prevent from further complication or negative outcomes. Social movements like “Ban the Airbrush” have actively participated and propagated 100% naturalness in photo works of professionals. They protect the human rights for truth in photography and strive for prevention from mass media deceit and manipulation. One can go further and demonstrate where such a deception actually takes place. Beautiful women are mostly promoted as ‘natural’ ones who do not require any effects, changes, but this image is in reality fake. The promoted naturalness in vogue magazines is not realistic in its nature and participants of the non-retouching movement, call for refusal from any form of editing. In most cases, additional techniques are used in order to create such a natural model with no drawbacks in appearance, figure, face and bodily pose. Models’ attitudes towards these new technologies are also very important, because they directly participate in the public manipulation. Some of them surely like such new technical possibilities, whereas others still claim to refuse from any kind of artificial additions. On the one hand, these opportunities make models’ life easier and they do not need to have a perfect look for the next shooting, whereas others refuse to present fake look to the public. Bush Hitchon et al. (2004) cite the recent feedback of models themselves. “Indeed, celebrity model Tyra Banks told Oprah Winfrey in a recent program on adolescent health, “It’s all retouched. We don’t do a lot during photo shoots now. They’ll be like ‘Tyra, suck it! No! Just retouch it!’ Can’t you just get this? I don’t want to suck my stomach in”. They also mention a fact when the famous Hollywood actress Kate Winslet protested and called her slenderized image on the British magazine cover excessive and unacceptable. Of course, once appearing in a public place, celebrities experience awkward feelings when people expect them to look like on the glossy covers. Therefore, the question of manipulation and retouching must be further discussed and an efficient solution to the problem must be provided. In overall assessment of new tendencies, one admits that magazine covers are more tolerant in the question of digital manipulation than newspapers. There has been even a concept of “retouching epidemic” which has been introduced due to a mass and frequent utilization of manipulative techniques. Thus, retouching may take place in certain context, but some situations require minimization of such artificial techniques.
The current research requires a specific agenda and list of objectives in order to provide a plausible description of the studies and induce an effective conclusion. Therefore, one should play attention to the similar studies which were previously conducted and had the question of retouching as their main subject. A lot of studies on the discussion of the process of production of commercial images for promotion of services and products can be found and Harrison and Hefner (2014) also refers to this question. According to this scientific investigation, all consumers nowadays expect the pictures of celebrities to be manipulated and it is very difficult for people to detect the element which is edited and retouched. A statistical study is introduced where 393 individuals are exposed to the retouched, unlabeled non-retouched and labeled retouched photos. Of course, whereas retouching techniques in amateurish and overdone people’s images in social networks can be immediately identified, it is rather difficult to find the elements of editing in high-level professional schemas. People’s visual literacy has evolved with the time and it has become easier for one to see the significant changes now, but it still remains a problem for most of the consumers who cannot filter the fake imagery. “Outside the context of social media, photos taken by a photographer and professionally retouched by a third party are comparatively formal and intended to reflect people at their best for some legitimate purpose. Thoughts of photo subjects’ potential prestige may have increased objectified body consciousness and decreased physical self-esteem among adolescents who judged themselves as less prestigious than the photographic subjects” (Harrison & Hefner, 2014, p. 147). The scholars also admit that a disclaimer located under the retouched photos can have an influence on one’s perception of the photo. In this particular study, people have not reacted to the disclaimer as it was originally expected. When having seen the disclaimer, they started even more praising of the models and their perfection. This phenomenon has been also termed as a boomerang effect due to such an unexpected reaction from the side of participants. People need to become more visually literate and aware of various manipulative techniques nowadays in order to prevent from further deceit or frustration regarding the input in social and printed media they are provided. The fact is that one’s perception of a certain image depends on various factors and the outcomes depend on different conditions including the personal knowledge background, particular situation and other aspects which can directly impact the process of perception and processing of the provided material. There is a converse policy implemented when publishing the glossy magazine covers and material. In the age of increasing global problems and negative effects, it has become very fashionable to promote the values of ecological products, recyclable materials, natural cosmetics and many other things including the retouch free images. A study by Slater, Smyth and Tiggemann (2014) demonstrates that whereas overall body dissatisfaction increases once a person is exposed to the idealized retouched images, presence of a ‘retouch-free’ label does not make any significant difference in this respect. It has been concluded that there is no effect regarding such a label at all, because people do not experience any change in mood or attitude once received information about non-retouched photos. Numerous countries including the United Kingdom, France, Israel and others have introduced specific projects and programs to develop large-scale initiatives and prevent from negative effects of visual manipulation through the idealized pictures of models and other celebrities. Australia represents a great example in this sense, because the government has initiated specific requirements to the content of mass media: a rather diverse range of shapes and body sizes, healthy weight factor, reduction as retouch-free zone and have become extremely widely used and posted today. “However, irrespective of label condition, acute exposure to the fashion shoots did produce a small increase in body dissatisfaction. Thus, fashion shoots can be added to the ever-growing body of evidence for “small but consistent” negative effects of exposure to thin ideals” (Slater, Smyth and Tiggemann, 2014, p 87). The question of labeling as “retouch-free” on the one hand and “retouched” on the other, remain the significant elements of modern ethical dilemma concerning the issue of retouching of glossy fashion magazine covers nowadays. Social and printed sources of contemporary mass media have a rather high level of impact and therefore, they largely contribute to the formation of moral and ethical ideals among people. The authors develop their idea further and admit the paradoxical nature of image labeling. Frequently, additional information on pictures, can provide an opposite effect. “It is possible, then, that the labelling of images as not digitally altered may serve to increase their perceived self-relevance. As the girls and women featured in the images are still very attractive and thin, this may induce an upward comparison, and the paradoxical result may be an increase in body dissatisfaction” (Slater et al., 2014, p. 86). Therefore, one should also rethink the strategy of picture labeling in this case. A more profound analysis of people’s attitudes towards these techniques is required. Basically, this study summarizes that the modern society probably even needs a certain portion of visual manipulation in order to not believe in such ideal forms and stay satisfied with their appearance. Such controversies require further more profound investigation and discussion. The final account of the negative effects caused by the retouched photos in media, is provided in the study introduced by Diedrichs et al. (2017) where the main negative side of the phenomenon is described. According to the conducted study, “some consumers engage in health compromising behaviors, such as excessive exercising, restricting food intake and undergoing cosmetic surgery, in order to achieve the airbrushed look. Some made a direct link between exposure to airbrushed images and mental health problems (e.g. eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem”.. Human civilization always developed and evolved in a positive direction, because people always tend to make their environment beautiful and positively influence their mood, feelings and emotions. They also frequently experience a deep depression, dislike their own looks and then acquire rather complex diseases which cannot be completely treated in the future. Falsified images are the subject to numerous debated on human ethics and therefore, opinions of professionals are also to be analyzed, discussed and involved in this particular study. The dilemma of beauty was raised already in the ancient times when people tried to answer the question whether the real beauty and aesthetic ideal actually existed. “On the question of whether objective beauty truly exists, Aristotle disagreed with the position advanced by Plato that true Beauty can only be found in a transcendental, ethereal world. Aristotle maintained that something in the created order of the world could also be considered beautiful if it exhibited symmetry, harmony and definiteness” (Onabajo, 2012, p. 4). Of course, people’s notions about beautiful and ugly are quite relative, because each nation, country, social group and minority have own presentation of ideal. Whereas some people consider a long nose to be a defect in appearance, others claim it to be a trait of aristocracy and beauty. It is also a question of individual preferences, because all people have different tastes and their opinion in this regard can never be equal. Photographers always strive for originality in their work and frequently, they prefer their photo to be unique, but possess certain elements which can fairly criticized and refused by the society.
of digital alteration, labeling of retouched images and many other criteria which are to improve the current situation of media manipulation. Such steps need to be taken in every country in order to provide a healthy environment among people who need to trust the sources they get any kind of content from. Without this trust, mass media can become rather inefficient and subsequently, have no influence on the public opinion at all. The above-mentioned study mentions the images which are usually labeled
In order to further investigate the issue of retouching and analyze all possible perspectives and opinions regarding this question, one can also review the bibliography of a world famous photographer Peter Lindbergh who has become a legend of this art and has always claimed not to have retouched his photos. The main strategy of the artist is to look for the beauty in simplicity and naturalness of people’s bodies, faces, gestures, wrinkles, red noses and other details which are so frequently removed with the help of up-to-date application and digital programs. The only instrument he implements is play with the light and he does not delete or improve any further small elements in photos. “This is the man who has made raw images his signature – whether a stark electricity pylon shot in the industrial city of Duisburg, Germany, where Lindbergh grew up, or the untouched portrait of a model’s face, apparently devoid of make-up or any other such artifice”. It is impossible not to notice the work of this genius, because they always possess a specific energy and one can see that imperfections only largely contribute to the esthetic image of those masterpieces. According to Lindbergh, the image of a rich woman, supported by her husband is not efficient at all and therefore, the world requires an impression by the real natural beauty. Whereas such an aesthetic view has existed throughout the centuries already and significantly influenced the public tastes, people and artists are not completely ready to refuse from implementation of improvement effects and techniques.
The above-mentioned ethical issues raised within the discussion of retouching and changing of original photos, should be discussed in the context of philosophical vision and attitudes towards such questions. It is not an easy task to evaluate whether a minor retouching of photos can be considered to be a violation of human rights and basic moral principles. Onabajo (2014) investigates the story of the “Ban the Airbrush” case and looks for an answer to the question whether retouching techniques should be completely forbidden in the context of mass media. The author provides an argument which protects the intensive distribution of idealized pictures in various channels of mass communication. “Given that objective beauty does exist, it is not morally reprehensible for businesses and retailers to use aesthetically pleasing models to showcase their products”. Of course, such an ideal must necessarily exist in the society, so people can always strive for growth and self-improvement. Such movements as the “Ban the Airbrush” can also have rather negative effects on the society, because certain cases can be misinterpreted. Pictures with beautiful colors, perfect shapes, forms and further properties can be wrongly perceived as retouched, although no implementation of such techniques is actually provided. According to this paper, retouching can be morally justified, because it is not a new kind of social manipulation or deceit. Retouching existed in its specific manifestation already in the ancient times when emperors, kings, monks and other leading figures were drawn healthier, stronger and more handsome than they actually were. This is how artists conveyed the idea of power, wisdom and necessity to follow the people’s ruler at those times. Human civilization always developed and evolved in a positive direction, because people always preferred better ideals.
4. Initial hypothesis
This paper is based on previous studies and is to discover further human habits and behaviors regarding various retouching techniques and applications nowadays. The initial hypothesis of the thesis suggests that there is a high level of discrepancy between women and men in their attitude towards photo editing. Different genders tend to emphasize specific elements on their photos. The hypothesis is to be proven based on the data from online sources and further research in the field is to be sketched further. Besides, this study assumes that retouching cannot be interpreted as a violation of ethical issues in all contexts, because this an option which can be chosen by people on their own. Thus, if a person wants to retouch a photo, provide certain correction and look differently, it is his or her individual choice and right.
5. Research methods
This research is to use the freely accessible online data obtained from the survey of PicMonkey and analyze them accordingly in order to verify or falsify the initial hypothesis. Statistical analysis of photo editing habits among women and men is provided in order to observe how their attitudes differ in this regard. The method of compare and contrast, as well as the quantitative one are to be utilized in the research in order to complete a plausible and clear summary about gender specifics in the sphere of photo retouching. Analytical strategy contributes to a rather detailed and step-by-step description of editing techniques that is also very important for a successful discussion of all possible experiences in this particular regard. Gender differences serve as a reliable evidence for the fact that male and female social network users have different prerogatives, values and interests in their life. Besides, a certain level of discrepancy also demonstrates rather different purposes in the use of retouching on one’s images online. Whereas women are more likely to emphasize their appearances, family photos and more personal content, men tend to publish and retouch the elements of interior and exterior for the sake of impression and specific reaction from the viewing audience. The survey is expected to reveal such specific features and tendencies among each of the gender groups. Also, it is important to make a more in-depth analysis of retouching techniques implemented in the vogue magazines for women in order to construct a certain hierarchy, set of the most widely used and implemented changes in photos. One should be aware which particular details in images are changed the most. Besides, a conclusion must be provided whether implementation of retouching techniques is always visible for the public. One should define which minor changes can provided without a significant violation and manipulation with the human perception of photo material.
6. Research results
The research of online sources and analysis of the retouched pictures provide one with a sufficient information regarding the mostly retouched points in various magazines and social networks. Models’ perfection is usually underlined by specific correction of their appearances which eventually make them appear more effective and bright. In order to understand how the process of retouching is realized and compare raw and manipulated pictures, one can use the following picture obtained from the Fstoppers online source which provides various analytical materials and description in different spheres of human activity and interest. Dayley (2012) provides an overview of the fundamental retouching techniques and approaches used by the photographers of Victoria’s Secret publications. Models of such editions, unlike those of Lindbergh, can be characterized as transformed and changed so that the effects become more foregrounded, models more attractive and any kind of defects are removed for the sake of obtaining of a perfect image. Lindbergh always take the models as there are with all possible details and traits of their appearance. Certain publications have an image of perfection promotion and their main goal is to communicate the aesthetic ideals to the community. Therefore, retouching and changes in the original photos are necessary for creation of a positive effect and necessary impression in this regard. Specific brands including Victoria Secrets require a very special strategy in the photo production and their posters are usually quite recognizable and famous to all consumers.
Picture 1. Comparison of a raw and manipulated picture of a model (Dayley 2012).
First of all, one should mention that frequently, the colors of swimsuits or other clothes and accessories are changed on the photos to make the entire picture more harmonious and eye-catching. In this particular case, the author has used a more contrastive purple instead of emerald in order to make the photo much more effective. The retouched photo is brightened, because the model’s hair has become even more shiny blond, skin and sea on the background turned intro sunnier and glossier. Such effects allow to quickly and efficiently remove the lighting errors, but a professional photographer needs to be careful with intensity of colors and not exceed a certain allowed norm of the manipulation. The number (3) demonstrates how a part of the so-called Kroes’ back below the armpit is removed to prevent from significant bodily imperfections and asymmetry. The mimics and expression lines on the model’s face (4) are also transformed to make her look fresh, not tired and perfect. The last changed elements is the swimsuit bottom which has got longer after retouching procedure and its hemline was redrawn. If one compares there two pictures, there is a significant difference between the two. However, a high level of mastery and accuracy in the retouching procedure make such changes almost unnoticeable unless the original photo is provided. All photos published in Victoria’s Secret are brightened for the sake of improvement of the color palette on photos. Some photos are only minimally changed. Very of Victoria’s Secret as the world-famous fashion company.
often, they are quite successful and the professionals only need to remove straps of swimsuits, brighten the photo and eventually remove expression lines. After this analysis, one should admit that the models are not made skinnier as they are already in a rather good shape. Only small details which may reveal certain imperfections, are removed in the way that even the most experienced professionals would not see any significant deviation. Such a strategy is the core principle underlying the image
The next step in the current analysis of the results, it the discussion of retouched points by women and men who have different attitudes and habit regarding the exposure of self to the public view. When analyzing personal preferences and habits of people regarding posting of photos online, retouching and editing them, one can notice that women and men tend to emphasize and highlight different elements in the raw images. The survey conducted by a photo editing website PicMonkey revealed numerous interesting facts and peculiarities in users’ attitudes towards such procedures and techniques. The most part of the respondents who were over 2000 individuals, admitted that they posted pictures in social networks the preceding year. This fact serves as evidence of an intensive activity of online users regarding posting pictures. People are used to this and this has become an essential part of their life – to demonstrate their personal experience to others. Interestingly, this survey results in the assumption that men also widely used retouching instrument to make their photos more attractive and liked in social networks. “Additionally, almost half of the male respondents have used an online photo editor to remove wrinkles, whiten teeth and remove pesky red-eye. In comparison, more than half of women respondents admitted to using the same edits in their photos. While 67% of female respondents acknowledged using an online photo editor to remove facial blemishes, more than half of the male respondents did the same (51%)” (PicMonkey 2015). 100 % natural photos usually preserve such imperfection as red eyes, wrinkles, expression lines and others, whereas manipulated materials make these points invisible and prevent from any kind of negative perception connected with such drawbacks of photos. In this case, the question of absolute non-retouching remains controversial, because on the one side, photos can frequently lack some colors, lights and on the other hand, removal of the drawbacks can be considered to confuse the viewers and therefore, result in a certain kind of deception. Of course, female and male representatives have their own interests and the results of the target survey have revealed the truth that women tend to post more feminine photos, with babies and families, flowers and in romantic settings, whereas men post the photos from gyms, group meetings, business trips and other content in this direction. Figure 1 which demonstrate the final results of the survey, shows that in most cases, both male and female inclinations coincide, because all of them like posting selfies, family photos, food, wedding and home design in equal proportion. This fact ca be explained by the equal audience for all participants of online communication, because people evaluate the same content on the same level.
Figure 1. Comparison of editing tendencies among male and female respondents (PicMonkey 2015).
Men are also concerned with their participation and publishing of the content just as the women are. However, the results show hat there are significant discrepancies in gender preferences regarding more specific content online. The main assumption which can be made after this particular discussion, is that all people tend to use retouching techniques nowadays. Stereotypes that only women use filters to make their pictures more effective, should be put aside, because there exists a high level of equality in this regard among different gender representatives in the online interaction. There is no negative perception in this regard, because people want their photos to look brighter and more sensational. Of course, the retouching should not be exaggerated and therefore, most people admit to use the simplest online instruments for editing of their photos. Minor users have admitted to be able to work in the Photoshop, because this procedure requires not only additional skills and knowledge, but one also needs to install a specific software in order to use its advantages.
The presented research has focused on the phenomenon of retouching nowadays which has been more and more frequently used in different social contexts. Whereas, only professionals had an access to the photo editing techniques some decades ago, it has become quite conventional nowadays to use filters and further improvement techniques in daily online communication among young people. There are various applications and programs which allow to instantly change photos, add specific effects, brighten the palette and remove all possible drawbacks from the pictures. Numerous surveys and public opinion analyses have demonstrated that people’s attitude towards photo effects and retouching is rather positive, because they want their content to look brighter. With regard to the idealized models’ photos in magazines and newspapers, these issues remain more controversial and criticized in the society due to the negative impact on young people’s ideas about perfection and aesthetic ideals. “There are many ways in which the use of graphical retouching and airbrushing can be reformed so that youngsters can grow up with a healthy and positive body-image, which would reduce the incidence of anorexia and other body dysmorphic disorders; in its place, it would boost self-esteem and confidence” (Onabajo, 2014, p. 5). Thus, this paper summarizes that retouching techniques must be used in specific context where they can provide a positive impression and impact on the public perception of beauty and ideal. It is a matter of individual choice whether to use retouching strategies or not. Optionality in this case exists just as in any other sphere of human interaction and therefore, everyone decides whether to post raw or retouched photos in his or her profile. As for the social and printed media manipulation with the help of various photo editing techniques, one should admit that people have different attitudes in this regard also. Some believe that the retouching is needed in order to make companies’ services or products attractive, whereas others deny any kind of manipulation due to the decrease in people’s self-esteem and underestimation of own appearance. The most negative outcome of the retouching is the worsening of people’s health and moral state due to the changes in eating habits and behaviors. Such radical movements as “Ban the Airbrush” intervene with this question, but there are further side effects of their intensive public propaganda of 100% naturalness.
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