The Daily Dose Blog The Daily Dose Blog Home

What People Really Think of Retouching

Glamour readers weigh in on airbrushing

By MSNLiving Feb 8, 2012 8:00PM
By Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief Glamour Magazine

Years ago, I was at lunch with a group of magazine editors-in-chief when the subject came up of French legislation proposing limits on retouching pictures in popular publications. “Well,” said one of my colleagues, laughing, “there goes my editor’s note photo.”

It was a joke, of course, but her point was this: Retouching does happen at magazines—and, in this era of digital photography, almost everywhere else in our world, from movie posters and CD covers to Facebook images and Match.com profiles. It’s nothing new (even Abraham Lincoln was once essentially photoshopped!), but with 70 iPhone apps out now allowing women to do it themselves, it’s newly ubiquitous—and controversial. So does retouching inspire unrealistic expectations? Or is it no big deal, like the digital version of a good concealer? In our March 2012 issue, we asked the experts. And by experts, I mean 1,000 women just like you.

Nicholas and Elizabeth, before retouching (Courtesy of Glamour)Real-life couple Nicholas and Elizabeth, pictured here in Miami, in an unretouched (and cute!) vacation shot.

Nicholas and Elizabeth, after retouching (Courtesy of Glamour)In common retouching procedures, one expert says, “women move toward Barbie, and guys toward G.I. Joe.” Elizabeth’s not into it: “I look scary here!” She’s right—this is taking it way too far.

You can read the complete results of the survey here—and they are fascinating. Bottom line: You’re OK with a little retouching. But not a lot. Sixty percent of you say it’s OK for a woman to retouch her own personal photos (now very common on dating sites and Facebook). But you’re skeptical when the media does it, unless it’s for minor stuff like getting rid of a pimple or “steaming” a wrinkled skirt. Three-quarters of women are fine with those kinds of changes (“you have to want to look like the people on the pages,” notes Jessie Wohlgemuth, 27, of Belmont, Massachusetts), but only one in four approve of altering what Mother Nature gave you: curves, birthmarks and other distinguishing characteristics. “I want to look like me on my best day,” said one typical respondent, “not change my body.”

What you do with your own personal Facebook and Match.com pictures is up to you, of course. But how should a magazine like Glamour handle retouching? In the March issue, we published the pledge below. And we plan on sticking to it:

Yes, we DO do it—and so do most fashion publications in the age of digital photography, since retouching includes everything from darkening a sky so a headline reads better to keeping models’ nipples from showing through a shirt (done in our March issue—twice!). But as your responses make clear, retouching has its limits—or should—and Glamour plans to take a stronger role in setting ours. You told us you don’t want little things like freckles and scars removed, and we agree; those are the kinds of details that make each woman on the planet unique and beautiful. And while our policy has always been not to alter a woman’s body shape, we’ll also be asking photographers we hire not to manipulate body size in the photos we commission, even if a celebrity or model requests a digital diet (alas, it happens). “I believe Glamour should take an active role in encouraging unretouched photos,” says Jessica Gordon, 29, of Los Angeles. “It has to start somewhere.”

What do you think of photo retouching? Has it gone too far, or is it to be expected? Tell us on Facebook.

More from Glamour:
14 Sexy Going Out Dresses You Can Wear When It's Cold Out
Cute Haircut Ideas for Midlength Hair

50 Things Men Are Afraid to Ask For But Want Super-Duper Badly

Mar 22, 2012 4:04PM

We are far to concerned and consumed by our own vanity. Pretty sad. On re-touching photos .... I bet Ansel Adams is rolling in his grave.

Mar 22, 2012 3:21PM
Against photoshopping out flaws!  Love reality!  The value of a person is not in any outward appearance.  The more we buy into the concept that outward appearance increases value, the less we value character, honesty, integrity, work ethic, etc.  I personally don't care if celebrities are embarrassed that they don't look 22 years old when they're 40.  But I do care that impressionable people are made to feel ashamed if they don't emulate the celebrities.  Let's see reality, and value character and content over appearance.
Mar 22, 2012 2:27PM
I believe that photoshop are used just to bring the sales .
Mar 22, 2012 12:27PM
While Photoshop can be very useful - and is pretty easy for most people to use - the ALTERING of photos has been around for much of the past century, making it possible that NO photo is what it appears to show. This was extensively done in Stalin's USSR, where alterations to well-known photos were carried out to delete or add people in line with political shifts. For example, photos of Lenin during the revolution had images of Trotsky deleted [he fell afoul of Stalin] - and images of Stalin added [implying that he had been present with the leader of the Bolshevik revolution and founder of the USSR]. For much more on this, see the excellent book, :Making People Disappear."
Mar 22, 2012 11:09AM
 Lets be honest. Skilled photographers/artists can "create a lie" with the camera/brush/pencil through angles and lighting. However I wouldn't put it in the same field as Photo Shopping.

I honestly don't understand why companies pay millionsof dollars for models?  Get some bum off the street for pennies and Photo Shop them instead.

I'm into photography! It's not real, not the picture that was taken. No one nowadays can be real they have to keep messing with everything! I'm against it! It's fake and a fony. It's actually a lie! As with any photo that's been touched up in Photo Shop. It's one thing to crop, lighten or darken a bit but other than that, a lie.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

inspire: live a better life

  • Off-season vacation destinations

    The 10 best off-season vacation deals in the world

    Summer and winter tend to hog all the glory when it comes to travel high seasons. Sure, you want to soak up all the time at the beach you can during the summer, and you just want to escape the cold during the last months of the year.

  • Best places for fall foliage

    The 16 best places to see fall foliage

    Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move.

  • 30 things you learn in your 30s

    30 things that will (probably) happen in your 30s

    In September, I'll turn 38. I'm at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don't know if that's because I've already been 37 different ages and it's hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it's because I'm in denial, or if it's because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):

  • Great travel tech gadgets

    The 8 best travel tech accessories for every trip

    Traveling doesn't have to be stressful. And what you can fit in your carry-on can make all the difference (and not just a fresh pair of socks), especially when you get that low battery signal.

  • The Science

    5 surprising ways to live longer

    Volunteering (and these other rituals) might be just as good as exercise when it comes to extending your life.

  • Don’t hit snooze

    7 cures for a case of the Mondays

    Use these tricks to set a better tone for the rest of the week.

  • King's Night: Amsterdam, Holland

    The 10 wildest celebrations in the world

    Whether it involves a food fight, mermaids or a torch-lit procession, people the world over know how to have a good time. Here are some of the biggest, boldest, booziest celebrations around, along with some tips to get the full experience.

  • green brain image (Courtesy of Newser)

    Scientists turn bad memories to happy ones

    Research could mean more effective treatment for human disorders.

  • Cultura\Getty Images(Cultura\Getty Images)

    4 reasons journaling is good for you

    An entry a day might keep the doctor away (or at least the shrink).

  • Getty Images(Getty Images)

    Appreciating the Small Things in Life

    One woman's shout-outs to daily moments of joy — and how to cultivate them.

  • Woman jogging (Photo: Huffington Post)
  • Getty Images // Magazine

    Little ways to feel healthier and happier

    Our best health and fitness tips including the one move that tones all, berry news, and more.

about rich maloof
buzzing now on msn living
inspire videos
editor's picks