We Are More Than What Meets the Eye – And So is Photoshop
You know the way scary movies are infinitely more haunting, more terrifying, when we’re looking at a real life scenario? The film is shot as a home video (think the Blair Witch Project or any Paranormal Activity movie), the characters are real people, probably friends, family, and this could be your home. Movies about ghosts living under the floorboards or spirits in the attic (and no, not the Smirnoff kind of spirits) resonate with the viewer; the movies are intense, petrifying. There is always an element of realism here. This could be your house. This could be your life.
Movies or TV shows with fictional creatures, vampires, witches, and goblins – those we can shake off, those we can aim to forget about, repeating to ourselves that ‘it’s just a movie. There is no such thing as X, Y or Z. It’s just a movie.’ The former is a blood curdling terror because a seed of doubt has been planted; this could be me. Photoshop works in the exact same way.
Photoshop plants the same seeds of paranoia and doubt. This picture; of a girl in a bikini, digitally altered? THIS COULD BE YOU. This ad, of a man in his underwear, digitally enlarged (I’m talking about you Justin Bieber)? THIS COULD BE YOU. It’s terrifying because, it could be you. It’s not. But it could be.
According to these make believe ads, it could be. According to these fairytales, there is hope. If you (a) lose weight, (b) BUY WHAT WE ARE ADVERTISING, and (c) do as you are told, this could be you. Just like scary movies, Photoshop doesn’t threaten, question or worry when it is grossly unrealistic; a giraffes head on a human body for example. It’s only when you believe that you are failing (failing who? Failing what?!) because you are not this physically manipulated person of perfection; that’s where the issues begin. It is the potential, that you too could be seen as perfect, just like these models, that lets us down. We want to have faith in this potential, in ourselves, to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Our belief that these deceptions of reality are our best versions of ourselves is impossible to reach and maintain causing an undue amount of pressure and stress.
So here it is; the truth. The ugly, honest-to-God truth that people don’t want to hear. You will never, I repeat never, look like that. Never. In your whole life. No amount of anabolic steroids, green tea or protein shakes will enable you to look like the photoshopped advertisements that we are forced to see every single solitary day of our supposedly miserable (if you were to believe these advertisements) lives. No amount of skipping on desserts, early morning jogs or sacrifice will get you there. And that my friend, is the core of the issue with Photoshop. No matter what you do, you still won’t look like that.
This unpleasant nugget of information covers everyone, no exceptions to this almighty, unforgiving rule. Just ask Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian or Madonna – all frequent victims and users of the eternally forgiving, evidence removing Photoshop. The fact, that Photoshop creates images that are physically impossible to aspire to, has no boundaries. It is non-discriminatory regarding race, gender, sexual identity or orientation. A cruel irony perhaps.
It echoes of a time when I was about six years old. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded with ‘a mermaid.’ No one had the heart to tell me that this was physically impossible. I literally could not be a mermaid, no matter how hard I worked or how much I wanted it. It is the same with Photoshop. Except now, it is a tacit agreement between people who publish these images of factitious ideals of beauty, not to tell us gullible, easy influenced consumers that we literally cannot look like that. No matter how hard I work or how much I want it. It is similar to a mythological creature. ‘The Perfect Man/Woman’ is not attainable.
The issue with attempting to become this mythological creature, the core issue with Photoshop, is that you will never look the way they can make you look – digitally enhanced. This issue can lead to many life threatening issues such as bulimia, anorexia and low self-esteem. Imagine the outrageous scandal if someone were to go to such extremes to try to become a mythological creature, something so clearly fake, extracted from one’s imagination, such as a mermaid. But when it is this Photoshopped person, there is nothing extreme about it. It is almost an acceptable goal for boys and girls everywhere.