How retouching changes our perception of beauty - Trusting Pixels
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October 4, 2016
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December 28, 2017

How retouching changes our perception of beauty

The conversation involving the negative effects of retouching is a necessary one to have. Retouching photos is a task that is done intensely with a lot of thought, and in most cases, takes a long time to accurately execute.

Major fashion brands have been caught in the act of retouching their models; with the results going viral. A recent, notable, case was covered in August 2015 by Refinery29  with their closer look at the Victoria’s Secret instagram account. One specific post, showing two models in the company’s signature lingerie, is profiled as a completely unrealistic expectation of a woman’s body. People are claiming that the arms of the model seem warped and even a floating elbow in the background. The site was able to get a quote from an anonymous Victoria’s Secret retoucher who said that often, editing includes, “adding meat on [models’] bones” since models are “thinner than you actually think they are.”  Whether someone is too thin or too big, people shouldn’t try to standardize someone’s beauty by manipulating their body as they wish.

When companies get caught in retouching fumbles, the visual results can seem humorous, but they expose the true intentions of retouching: to “fix” imperfections. Retouching photos is a lucrative industry and one that is created to make regular people look flawless. Photo retouching is in no way harmless and it has never been.

In 1999, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues released a study that connected body issues, stress, and other negative results due to direct exposure to photos of models found in magazines.


The report, “The Media’s Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We’ve Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them?” cited a 1994 study that found:

“a 3-minute exposure to 12 photographs of models taken from popular women’s magazines led to transitory increases in depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity, and body image dissatisfaction that were not evident for controls who viewed photographs of average sized models” (Stice and Shaw).

It is obvious that retouching is only aesthetically beneficial for a company but not for the people consuming the content. The issue is that with media consumption, not many people can even truly understand the negative effects because they often feel like they are too smart to be affected. Education psychologist and consultant, Lori Day wrote a piece entitled “Why Photoshop Is A Matter of Life and Death for Many Girls” where she explains that “many people point to digitally emaciated images of females… and say, ‘but everyone knows they’re fake… Interestingly, most people demonstrate the Third-Person Effect: they falsely perceive that mass communicated messages like these photoshopped images fool other people but not themselves.’”

By falling into the “Third- Person Effect”, consumers do not notice how deeply they are being affected. Trusting Pixels wants to face the issues with retouching head on and create a new form of advertising that is honest, welcoming, and leaves beauty in its natural state. By clients following Trusting Pixels and its regulations, the world will have a more honest representation of people in media.

It is not too late to make this change and Trusting Pixels is the perfect solution to make it happen. A 2015 Northeastern University study found that “among individuals with high tendency to compare their physical appearance with that of models in media, images using unmodified images in advertising could potentially be helpful.”. Trusting Pixels can be the change that is needed. The ability to change the future of the advertising industry is something that is achievable when we work together.

Please join us at our social media links provided on this page.

Disclaimer: We are not medical experts, we are working within the boundaries of observed experiences as well as research found online.


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