Image Manipulation in the Media: What Fashion Bloggers can Learn From it

Have you seen the video of the model being photoshopped nearly beyond recognition that went viral recently? Go take a look if you haven't. How did it make you feel? Angry? Frustrated? Inadequate? All of the above?

Even though I'm old enough to know better, I still look at ads in magazines, etc., and wonder why my skin doesn't look so smooth and fresh (I have pores, for goodness' sake. And I can SEE THEM!)

Duh. Because the model's been photoshopped to death. No one's skin looks like that. And the reality is that while there are some women who do look like the “after” of the woman in the airbrushing video, many more women DON'T, but are constantly being made to feel like they're should look more like the photoshopped image than a original one.

That's where we as fashion bloggers come in.

Think about a time (if you're old enough!) before fashion blogs and random women posting outfit pictures of themselves online. Our images of other women came either from women we knew in real life, or from magazines and TV. So, most of the images we were exposed to were “fake” – or at least could have been. Fast forward to now; we are still faced with manipulated images of women (and men), but there are enough fashion blogs and other outlets that showcase “original” non-manipulated images of women that we have no excuse anymore to hold up an image of unattainable perfection as achievable.

Sure, we will still compare ourselves to other women (when will it ever stop??), and we don't know for sure that blogger images aren't photoshopped and distorted (I myself enjoy an Instagram filter every once in a while), but it's not done to quite the degree as is in traditional advertising.

The incredible popularity and rise of fashion blogs in the last ten years speaks volumes about the types of photos of women that other women WANT to see.

They want to see non-manipulated images of women posing in the mirror or outside on the sidewalk. They want to see imperfections, bumps, under-eye circles, and wrinkles. Those images make us feel REAL and validated and important. To see someone else, somewhere else put pictures of themselves out there on the internet for all to see with wrinkles and all makes us feel empowered, not weak.

So besides taking the video as a slap in the face that NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS, and that we should take what we see with a grain of salt, not judge and definitely not compare ourselves to a two-dimensional image, we, as fashion bloggers, should also see this as an opportunity to empower our readers by continuing to share un-manipulated images of ourselves. This is what they want. And what we all NEED.

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7 Responses

  1. Alexa

    This is the exact reason I started my blog. I run the inspirational website Hello Perfect which works to redefine perfection and inspire others that they can accomplish anything they dream!

    I noticed that people stop chasing their dreams when they don’t have confidence in themselves. Hello Perfect is a community of people that are ready to overcome the society’s meaning of perfection and create their own so they can live the life they dream.

    Please check it out and join!

    Tweet me @HelloPerfect

  2. Sarah Lee

    I’m with you. Even though most of us logically understand what happens before an actual photograph ever sees the light of day (or a laptop screen, or a billboard), it’s still easy to get caught up in all that perfection that surrounds us every day.

    I treat my blog images the way I treat my makeup- I still want to look exactly like me, but at my best. If I have a big ol’ blemish on my face, I usually blend it out, and if the lighting is off I have no problem adjusting the exposure. But I’m not going to trim inches off my legs or give myself more cleavage. Creepy.

    I don’t think bloggers should feel obligated to post unflattering photos of themselves, but it’s important to be authentic to your readers and show who you truly are. If you don’t, you can’t build a genuine connection with your audience, and it’s going to catch up with you eventually.


  3. Miche

    Love this, one of my favorite demonstrations of manipulation of the media is the Kim Kardashian before and after that leaked a few years back, it is difficult to constantly see this unattainable standard of beauty being thrust upon us. For this reason, I don’t typically edit ANY of my photos, the most I’ll do is adjust the color (usually because I messed up when taking the photo), but I find that even doing that ruins the point of the photos – the point is to showcase the clothes, if I’m altering color and adding filters, you can’t see what the actual clothes themselves look like..

    Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

  4. Maggie A

    In regard to the last message at the end. I feel like it needs to start from one’s mental because even now on instagram EVERDAY people are photoshopping their images before putting it up and the regular girls are getting compared to those photoshopped images and becoming even more self-conscious. Its crazy.

    Maggie A

  5. Clothes But Not Quite

    Not shocked by this video because here in Canada a similar video was released 7 years ago about photoshopping a model. I was shocked then. If you want to check it out, here’s the link: As an ex-model myself, many images of me were manipulated. Unfortunately, it’s part of the business. Hooray for regular pics of regular girls. I’m curvy now instead of stick thin and don’t care one bit.

  6. Annette

    I am a mature blogger of 51 and of course I want to look as good as possible but if I’d start photoshopping my wrinkles, age marks or extra kilos, I’d completely loose authenticity.

    Annette | Lady of Style