Paper Sparcs

Magazine: Photoshop-free Zone

verilyWomen have not had an easy time of it when it comes to magazines geared toward them. Early last century they were bombarded with a steady drumbeat – in art and article – about the importance of keeping their homes sparkling, themselves beautiful, their menfolk coddled, and their children well turned out. While most of this has disappeared from the newsstand, the parade of dead-eyed, Photoshopped-to-death celebrities and fashion models who grace magazine covers and articles remain, quietly demanding that readers follow their example.

Determined to change this approach, Verily magazine was launched earlier this year with the promise that it would never alter the body or face “structure” of its models. According to the Huffington Post, co-founders Janet Sahm and Kara Eschbach say that “the unique features of women, whether crows feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body, are aspects that contribute to women’s beauty and should be celebrated — not shamed, changed or removed.”

Of course this radical approach wasn’t hatched in a vacuum. The magazine’s website mentions Dove soap’s longtime campaign for Real Beauty, which has engaged in a number of media actions, ranging from ads depicting “real women with real bodies” to a stunt earlier this year that tricked people into using a Photoshop action that actually undid edits people made to photos.

We’re all designers here. I’m sure we can all agree that there are times…probably a lot of times…when we feel guilty for removing those skin imperfections, lightening up those circles under the eyes, etc.

But honestly, this is still a magazine about wearing the right kind of top and the right kind of makeup. How has the message changed if we slap the designer’s hand in Photoshop, only to sell women on products that accomplish the same thing?

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4 Responses to Magazine: Photoshop-free Zone

  1. Amy says:

    The difference is the readers are seeing real women, using real products, with results that can potentially be achievable on themselves too. Sure, the models will have more time to exercise, more money to afford the better diet… but while I’ve got a fairly healthy view of my own beauty, I still appreciate make up occasionally, and I like being able to see what tops and dresses might look flattering on my own body type. Since they won’t be photoshopping the models into Barbies, there’s a better chance I will actually see someone with my body type in the magazine.

    • Aaron - PaperSpecs says:

      It’s a tough one, Amy. I completely get what you’re saying, and your logic is flawless. The only thing stopping me from saying “Amen, sister friend” is the question of whether the makeup and flattering dress are just a type of corporate Photoshopping on a massive scale, built on years subliminal fashion mag programming. Then again, if you follow that reasoning, everybody should be wearing burlap sacks and no makeup… I do love the idea of a Photoshop-free anything, though :-)

      • Amy says:

        I certainly understand your hesitation. The biggest challenge is figuring out how much of fashion is society’s pressure (ie. the clothing industry, Hollywood, and the feedback loop of women pressuring each other to meet the standards that the former impress upon them), and how much of it is just peoples’ desires to be found attractive and wanted by others. It’s a very fine line to walk.

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