Advertisers have always used sneaky tools to make their images look appealing to the general public. Even in the days before they used photography, and the advertisements were drawn, the finished product was always slightly different to the models that they used. Once upon a time when I was an impressionable teenager I used to spend my down time reading Girlfriend and Dolly magazines (for any of my non-Australian readers, these are fashion magazines aimed at teenagers) and hating all the models that they used for their perfect blemish free and skinny bodies. It wasn't until years later that I realised that all of the photos they used had been manipulated in some way, and that even the models themselves didn't look like the finished product.
A quick Google search will turn up thousands of results of before and after shots of advertisements and paparazzi shots that have been manipulated in order to fit with what the advertiser or writer wants to tell you, and even better are the websites that have sprung up solely to point out when the manipulators have made huge glaring errors and then let the product be published without being fixed. Lots of three handed or one legged models, or rather ample celebrities who suddenly slimmed down overnight.
Well just to show you my wonderful audience (especially any teens out there who may not believe that those perfect pictures aren't real), I have taken it upon myself to use the same tricks that the advertisers and magazines use to manipulate a shot of myself. To understand the change, you need to see the before shot, so here it is.
Me before my digital transformation
Now this is how the photo came out of the camera. There have been no changes done to this shot, not even a colour balance fix. Note the ample figure, the double chin and the tuck shop lady arms. All will be gone in just a few seconds. Now in order to make the changes seem real I had to remove myself from the lovely brown background which was my lovely flat in 2008. Note the wonderful circa 1980's shag pile carpet back there. Can anyone else say classy??
Now using the same tools that the professionals use (liquify, smudge, dodge and burn) I have transformed myself from the person I was in 2008 to someone completely different. Prepare yourself for some real magic here...
Ta daaa!! Go ahead and scroll up just to make sure your eyes aren't deceiving you, I'll wait.
Now remember I am just an amateur, so my results aren't perfect. But I wasn't aiming for perfection, just the opportunity to prove a point. Personally I hate the after shot, but that is because I know the person in this picture is not me. My teeth aren't that white, my skin isn't that smooth and my arms aren't that skinny. To me this looks like a plastic reproduction of me, perhaps what would happen if Madam Tussaud decided to make a wax model of me. Also now I think I have a bobble head in this picture, which just makes me feel self conscious of the size of my head in real life...
On top of removing a large portion of my arms, waist and stomach, I also decided to increase the size of my eyes, plump out my bottom lip slightly (because I have a crooked smile in real life), close the gap between my two front teeth and straighten up my nose. (Again crooked.) My skin has been airbrushed in order to even out the complexion (and also hide little errors I made during my weight loss phase) and the bags under my eyes have been smoothed out. I left in my smile lines because I happen to love them, but if this was a professional job they would have been removed too. I also tidied up my brow line too because I was horrified when I first looked at this photo to realised I was in desperate need of a pluck at the time. Real advertisers would also have extended my neck, because there is nothing sexier than a giraffe according to them.
So by all means, keep reading your fashion magazines and reading every billboard that you pass, but just remember that even the model that posed for those shots wishes her body was that perfect. And just to burst a further bubble for you, most of the times the scenery behind the model is also added after the photo is taken?? Don't believe me? Well that's probably because I was totally in Greece when this photo was taken...
Well that's me done for another night, I'd love to hear your opinions on the advertising industry, or any compliments you may have for my wonderful manipulation skills or incredibly photogenic face. Or even just some reassurance that my head doesn't look huge in the after shot, because seriously, to me that thing just looks like it's about to jump out of my computer screen and laugh at me.