Retouched Pretties

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?

I got the G!rlpower link from E. Lockhart, via Justine, and the last two links from Boing Boing.

65 thoughts on “Retouched Pretties

  1. yes, i saw the cover on but i was wondering what you thought about it, and if it was what you expected. I have another question too…… What setting is the uglies, pretties, and (probably) specials in. (country, state?) and, i guess you cant answer any of my other questions ( maybe the give to much away)

  2. Uglies is set on the Pacific coast. The Rusty Ruins of the book could be anywhere from LA to Seattle, depending on how bad global warming is in 300 years. So when Tally heads to the Smoke, she’s heading north, and then inland. It’s probably somewhere in what we’d now call Canada.

    I will say that in Specials she heads south . . .

  3. Thank you for publishing the G!rlpower link. I showed it to my 8-year-old daughter, who is already quite concerned with how she looks. The waist “editing” in particular is hard to explain to young girls. I always tell my daughter, who has type 1 diabetes, that health is the most important thing. Healthy is attractive regardless of the measurements.

    I’m halfway through Uglies now. The part of the story that really got my attention was that the standard of beauty for pretties was higher than that of models and celebrities in magazines! I really like the book and look forward to reading more of your work.

  4. I was wondering what you thought about the pretties cover. Is it supposed to be anyone in particular? i was thinking maybe the boy was Zane, but i wasnt sure because Zane is supposed to have jet black hair right? and david and peris arnt really in the book that much. but maybe….. is it one of them? and the girl i was thinking was shay, because it looks like she might have the jewel in her eye. But Tally has one to……right? so if you dont know what it is, than i guess i will never know. (or maybe its not supposed to be anyone in particular)

  5. I’d uhmm.. like to know who the characters on the book covers are also… You, sir, have got me hooked on these books.. right after I finished Uglies I got into my car and drove to the nearest book store and bought the Pretties book.. The library’s were ALL booked out!! So now i have to wait for Specials to come out which i’m just DYING to get!! D: agh! You’ve also got me thinking on hoverboards.. I’d like to look into that.. Is it possible for them to actually.. like.. y’know hover and all those other stuff @_@..

  6. Jeez.. that picture and that website with the retouching done totally changes the view on magazines… if only more young ladies knew about them… =/ they wouldn’t be as self conscious…

  7. The thing is, you don’t really know who those characters are. They’re just pretties, I guess. (Not that I design these things; I’m just the author.)

    But if they’re anyone, they are probably Zane and Shay. I mean, that’s what would make sense to the book. I know it’s not Zane’s hair, but maybe that was BEFORE he started dying it.

  8. Right now my current book THE LAST DAYS, a companion novel to PEEPS, it my favorite. But that’s always the way: the youngest child is favored. But overall I think SO YESTERDAY was the easiest and most fulfilling novel to write, because I was channeling my own 17-yo self.

  9. im doing a report about Uglies for school, and i just wanted to check, is it considered Fantasy or Science fiction?

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