If you haven’t seen enough on the ‘photoshopping beauty’ controversy, add this to your playlist.
It’s a beautiful and compelling music video by Hungarian artist Boggie. And it’s thought-provoking even before you have a clue what she’s singing. (For the curious like me, here are the lyrics.)
Definitely gives pause for thought.
Where I stand on the subject….
As someone who works in beauty, I personally love makeup — and honestly who can be mad at flattering lighting. But at what point in the alteration process (live or in post) do subjects become masks or avatars of themselves? And as a result do we all then not feel attractive as we naturally are (flawed and imperfect).
I think that’s really individual and depends on self-esteem plus simple awareness that this is all but a fantasy.
When it comes to celeb glam squads, for example, they don’t say “it takes a village” for nothing. There’s hair, makeup, dermatology… nutritionists, chefs, trainers… fake tanning (and faux body sculpting), brand new teeth, proper (and often body-altering) undergarments, and so much more. Compare images of stars pre-fame and now. Even unretouched images. It doesn’t take a detective to uncover that the “most beautiful people” didn’t exactly start off that way.
Which begs the question – does it even matter who or what does the ‘beautifying’ and at which point in the process? Is makeup that sculpts and enhances and even “corrects” fair game but retouching highly dangerous and damaging to society? What about fake hair in real life versus digitally-enhanced? Same for body shapers and smoothers.
As for retouching specifically, I often see amazing beauty images on Instagram and Pinterest that are served up as the work of talented makeup artists but are truly awe-inspiring due to master retouchers. The total flawlessness via blending and blurring and moving and manipulating makes the subjects (or their one super-zoomed-in facial feature) look doll-like and non-human. But it still makes me stop and stare.
Maybe that blatant fakeness allows me to appreciate the imagery for what it is – illusion and if done well, art.
I know for others it may go deeper.
I do see the pressure for perceived perfection and the standards women particularly feel they must meet — sometimes by any means — and obviously not all healthy. As a female and an adult, I think it becomes personal choice what you choose to accept and reject. My confidence is not completely tied to my appearance and my worth isn’t dictated by it. For younger girls, whose beauty ideals and perceptions are in part formed by the bombardment of these images on a daily basis, I think the curtain being pulled back and all this exposure and attention on the subject is a positive thing.
Similar to makeup, you can view it as hiding and masking or you can consider it a creative expression and fun. Or you can decide it’s not for you and dismiss it entirely.
To end with two cliches, knowledge is power and the truth will set you free. So whether you want to post bare-faced selfies in defiance or photoshop brighter eyes and pinker lips, flip the switch and do whatever makes you happy. Or like Boggie, show both. She looked beautiful at the start and at the finish of her digital transformation. There are countless versions of beauty.
Lauren Cosenza is the creator and editor-in-chief of DIVAlicious, a trusted beauty/fashion expert, an on-camera personality and spokesperson, a leading NYC-based professional makeup artist, a published contributor and writer, a brand consultant, a product junkie and an insatiable style seeker. Serving up style with a side of attitude, DIVAlicious gives women (and men) the confidence and permission to be fabulous. The site is filled with must-have products, pro tips and tricks, how-to DIY tutorials, makeovers, style inspiration and insider access.