22 November 2012
Digital Image Manipulation: A Media Plague
False advertising through image manipulation plagues the world of media today. Digital image editing applications such as Adobe Photoshop are the culprits. Abuse of such applications has led to major self-esteem and trust issues in teens, as well as a tendency to give faulty representations of themselves. Younger generations usually do not trust the generation in power. Now they can not even trust their own eyes. A shift from film to to digital capture has altered a lot of photographic principles of the late 1800-1900‘s. (Sarvas; Frohlich 1). Photographic images, which once stood as a documents of proof, are now easily regarded as lies and fabrications. Teenagers are led to believe that beautifully photoshopped images are the norm, which causes them to strive to live up to an unhealthy caricature of the human body, or believe in facts that are really complete fiction. Not only have these computer applications been used in recent years to swindle teenagers into buying the hippest new swimwear worn by the hottest new model, but they are now being frequently used as an outlet to manipulate news imagery and as propaganda to hype up presidential campaigns. The media’s lack of image legitimacy has become a problem in photography, affecting the credibility of pictures that may not even be photoshopped.
Used by companies such as Ralph Lauren, so consumers will buy their newest collection, barely legitimate advertisements have everyone craving to look thin. In Lauren’s September 2012 magazine an image was published depicting a woman that was just too skinny to be true (Figure 2). As media critic Xeni Jardin exclaimed, “Dude, her head is bigger than her pelvis!” Ralph Lauren’s version shows the women with a body one third the size of her actual self. The picture caused uproar on the internet, and images of what the model really looks like started to surface. When juxtaposed to the original image, there is no comparison (Dykes).
H&M has been accused of similar alterations. During a lingerie campaign, H&M was caught photoshopping real model heads onto virtual figures. An H&M press officer admitted that they shot model’s faces separately and paired them with “ultra-perfected bodies” through a computer program. To create these perfect bodies, mannequins are photographed and then run through an editing software to make them appear more real. Editors then take the figure of the mannequin and paste models’ faces, skin and fingers over to create a very skinny, perfect looking woman (Figure 1). Obviously any company would want to display their product in the most appealing way possible, but this extreme form of image manipulation has become too much to accept (Candice).
According to Newport Academy’s teen treatment center many teens admit that the media influences them to try and change their body image. Anorexia, being most common during the teen years can be linked to the media’s portrayal of a ‘normal’ human body. Fifty-three percent of girls surveyed admit that they are unhappy with their body by age thirteen, and a shocking seventy-eight percent by seventeen (Newport Academy). This new teen obsession with body image is leading more and more young internet users to give into eating disorders. Certain sites have been noted to actually help teens maintain disorders such as bulimia and anorexia (Steyer). Although most research so far has been focused on the relationship between social media and teens appearance with regard to self-harm and objectification, more and more studies - done by International Journal of Eating disorders, the Universities of Navarra and Catalonia, and so forth- are starting to show that there is a stronger relationship between the media and teenage eating disorders (Croez; Martinez-Gonzalez).
The results of these studies are reflected through images on modern social networking profiles....