Since writing Uglies, I’ve been asked a lot whether I think it’s dangerous for kids to be exposed to so many images of beautiful celebrities. Well, yes, comparing your own body and face to “perfect” celebs leads to unrealistic expectations. But what most people don’t realize is how unrealistic these images are, because of this one important fact:
Celebrities aren’t as pretty as we think we are. Their flawless skin, gorgeous bone structure, and radiant faces are mostly the result of technology. No, not futuristic cosmetic surgery: Photoshop.
Here’s a great example from a Swedish site called G!irlpower:
The image on the left is the original photo; the one on the right shows it after typical magazine retouching.
Click here for the entire experience, which allows you to zoom in on all of the parts of the girl before and after the retouching.
But one word of warning: Don’t start thinking that this girl was in any way “ugly” before the retouching. She’s actually quite cute. And frankly, I think the original image is much more attractive and more human, less false and exaggerated. It’s only “ugly” if your eye gets calibrated to accept only flawless skin. (And blue eyes and blond hair . . . hmmm.)
It’s not just magazines that retouch people—films do it too. My sister-in-law does visual effects for Hollywood movies (like King Kong). And believe me, for every hour she spends making sure Naomi Watts and Kong have the same lighting, she’s spent ten getting rid of certain stars’ zits and pores and wrinkles.
For more retouching examples from magazines, check out Model 1 and Model 2. These examples will show you why photographs of you don’t look like photos of models in magazines. Because you don’t spend 20 hours Photoshopping your own image.
And really, why would you want to?