Archive for the ‘digital editing’ Category

If it ain’t broke, should I fix it??

October 8, 2012

A while ago I purchased a Groupon for a microdermabrasion facial from a local laser skin care and rejuvenation center. Included in the bargain basement price was a consultation with a skin care specialist. Aware that the business offered several expensive cosmetic procedure I wasn’t entirely surprised that although I had listed dry skin and occasional breakouts as my only skin concerns, the “skin specialist” I spoke to suggested I “really consider Botox” for the “lines around my eyes and on my forehead.” In a bid to reassure me that Botox is safe and effective, she let me know that she herself had regular injections. True, she had nary a line on her face. She also appeared to be about 25 years old. Granted, she could be 50 and her apparent youth the result of the wonders of Botox. Yet a glance at the stud through her cheek, Lulu Lemon tights and Sketchers sneakers suggested this to be highly unlikely. (So as not to undermine her credibility, I will also point that she was wearing a white lab coat, the epitome of professionalism). Even still, I declined the Botox. At 31, if I choose to look closely, I can certainly see where my face folds when I smile, frown, squint, laugh, or furrow my brow. I just feel that as long as I can still get away with referring to these as “expression lines” I will continue to age gracefully. (With the exception of my Vitamin A face wash, 2 eye creams, retinol serum and day and night anti-aging moisturizers). We’ll see how I feel in 10 years.

Botox is only one tool in the anti-aging arsenal. The technology available to essentially “turn back the clock” seems to grow every day. Procedures are also becoming less invasive, more convenient, and involve less downtime, meaning people can literally walk into their doctor’s office and walk out a newer, younger person almost instantly.  It seems every other week I’m reading about a new technique to treat some cosmetic condition that I have never even heard of or never would have thought about as a physical defect. A few posts ago I wrote about cosmetic surgery for feet. I have often cursed my wide feet while shoe shopping, but never would have thought about this feature of mine as a treatable deficiency. I have just accepted that I would have to live with this trait. Alas, not anymore! With advances in cosmetic surgery, wide footism is treatable! It makes me think: Are these advancement in cosmetic surgery serving to address existing weaknesses that impede people’s lives either physically or psychologically or are these new procedures actually generating anxiety and perceived imperfections out of the normal variations among us?

Let me illustrate this quandary using the prescription lash enhancement drug Latisse. You have likely seen the advertisements for this product featuring gorgeous spokesmodel Brooke Shields. The preparation itself was originally (and still is) used as an eye drop to treat glaucoma when it was noted that patients using the solution developed thicker, longer eyelashes. Result: Latisse. The cosmetically marketed product is brushed on the lashline, and about 12 weeks later you have longer, darker, thicker lashes. Of course any substance seeking FDA approval to be sold by prescription requires a valid medical indication. And this is the kicker. Allergan, the company marketing this “medication” has identified a medical condition called hypotrichosis, defined as “inadequate or not enough lashes”. That’s right, if you are a person born with thin, lightly colored or short eyelashes, you now suffer from a treatable medical condition. The bad news is that hypotrichosis is a chronic, debilitating medical condition that will plague you for the rest of your life. There is no known cure. The good news is that the good people at Allergan have come up with an effective treatment. As long as you keep using Latisse you will have longer and thicker lashes. But you can’t stop using the solution or your eyelashes will shrink back to their original form. Hypotrichosis requires lifelong treatment.

Beyond the now routine procedures such as Botox, Restylane, lasers, implants, tummy tucks and liposuction, the cosmetic surgery industry has progressed to produce processes to “treat” the natural variations that make us unique and distinguishable from one another. Enemy number one is any natural sign of aging. Newer additions: surgery to fix a cleft chin, liposuction to treat “cankles”, turning an outie bellybutton into an innie, iris implants to turn brown eyes blue, abdominal etching (selective abdominal liposuction to give the appearance of a “6-pack”), butt implants, bicep implants, calf implants, and even pubic hair implants. What next??

Cosmetic surgery can be a touchy subject with people feeling strongly in one direction or another. There are those who feel that any attempt to be physically altered is wrong. Others are more accepting of such a metamorphosis. I find most people are in the middle. The majority of us see some of our traits as requiring reinvention, while other deviations from the middle ground are the result of simple human uniqueness. Whether demand is influencing supply or vice versa, it seems that as people continue to seek physical perfection, advancements in the cosmetic surgery field will continue. Perhaps we need not attack the industry itself, but rather take a hard look at the way men and women are represented in the media and society as idealized specimens. Finally, we have to remember that we have the autonomy to refuse to buy into the message that we are being sold. We still have free will until it goes out of style.

MANOREXIA

August 24, 2012

Our new issue of GQ magazine arrived today. The magazine comes in my fiancée’s name, however we both enjoy the subscription. While I generally skip over the articles about sports and cars, I do enjoy the monthly glimpse into the male universe. What are they being told to wear, read, eat, and listen to? Why are there 20 variations of the same brown loafer in my front closet? The answers are in this magazine. Plus the ads are much more arousing and don’t illicit the same self-loathing as those in women’s magazines. Read: gorgeous men, often in states of undress. But I digress. When I picked up the new issue, I immediately noticed the coverline: “SPECIAL REPORT: WHY MEN ARE BECOMING ANOREXICS”. While there have been several reports indicating that the number of men with eating disorders has been on the rise, I was surprised to see this article in a major men’s magazine. How big is this issue?

 

In the last few years I have observed some subtle changes in the behaviour of men in general towards food. It seems more men are drinking diet soft drinks. I hear more men ordering “skinny” drinks at Starbucks (hold the whip!) or putting artificial sweeteners in their drinks. A lot of my male friends choose salad instead of fries as their side dish. At the last wedding attended, my fiancée and I were seated at a table with four male firefighters. These men were young, thin and appeared to be in good shape. Yet for some reason all four of them were on the low-carb “Southbeach Diet”. I watched with fascination as they removed the single crouton from the soup course, refused the pasta salad, and carefully removed the layer of breading from the fish. I decided not to mention that the 12 vodka sodas they each downed contained carbohydrates. I figured they would throw them up imminently. At another dinner I attended, a male guest questioned why both potatoes and rice were served: “Who serves 2 carbs??” In a female, this behaviour would likely not have even raised an eyebrow. In these cases I found it bizarre and off-putting. Yet I wouldn’t have suspected any of these men to have an eating disorder until I read this article.

 

As a woman recovering from an eating disorder I know that the triggers for anorexia and bulimia are complicated. However it has been shown that the pressures placed on women to conform to the media and societal ideal of perfection can certainly be a contributing factor. There was a time when this was a concern of women almost exclusively. In The Beauty Myth first published in 1990 Naomi Wolf writes of women’s magazines:

“Since self-hatred artificially inflates the demand and the price, the overall message to women from their magazines must remain…negative not positive. Hence the hectoring tone that no other magazines use to address adults with money in their pockets: do’s and dont’s that scold, insinuate, and condescend. The same tone in a men’s magazine-do invest in tax-free bonds; don’t vote Republican-is unthinkable.”

And:

“Unfortunately, the beauty backlash is spread and reinforced by the cycles of self-hatred provoked in women by the advertisements, photo features, and beauty copy in the glossies. These make up the beauty index, which women scan as anxiously as men scan stock reports.”

20 years later, the content of men’s magazines very closely imitates that of most women’s publications. Magazines such as GQ, Details, Maxim and Nylon Man have numerous sartorial recommendations for the stylish modern man, reinforced by photo spreads of young, fit male models. Articles detail what’s new in the worlds of technology, music, art and books, and ensure men feel sufficiently mediocre if these prizes are not acquired. Advertisements convey the quintessential male specimen, lean men in slim-cut clothing or topless displaying bulging pectoral, abdominal, and bicep muscles. Most months feature diet and fitness advice to help men look more like the sculpted, photoshopped gods gracing the glossy pages. If looking at an Armani underwear ad featuring David Beckham is the male equivalent of women having to look at a Victoria’s Secret ad featuring Giselle Bundchen then I have no problem grasping the concept of male eating disorders.

 

The article in GQ magazine reports some surprising statistics. The author, Nathaniel Penn, reports that 20% of anorexics are men, or to put it in perspective for those that aren’t great at math 1 in 5. This is up from 5% (1 in 20) only 10 years ago, and the number is increasing. It appears that men develop eating disorders for the same reasons as women. So why has there been such an increase in the number of cases? A person can be predisposed to developing an eating disorder but never actually develop the disease because they never experience a trigger. Is it simply that, as discussed above, western culture has evolved to a point where men are facing many of the same societal pressures that women have faced for decade? This is likely only a part of it.

 

An article in Details magazine published November 2011 titled “America’s New Male Body Obsession” showcased 40 images that changed the way men viewed their bodies. These images are meant to illustrate how the male ideal has changed over the last several years as well as how much more focused men have become on their physiques. Included are: Mark Wahlberg’s notorious Calvin Klein ad, Brad Pitt’s very toned body in Fight Club, Mark Jacob’s remarkable weight loss, Daniel Craig, the author of The Ultimate New York Diet, a bottle of Michelob Light beer, a picture of body wax, etc. Looking at People Magazine’s Sexiest Men list, essentially all of the men topping the list had a lean, athletic physique and are very well groomed: Ryan Gosling, Justin Theroux, Chris Evans, and the winner Bradley Cooper to name a few. Topping the music charts are songs by Fun, Maroon 5, Neon Trees and Owl City, indie and alternative musicians who insist on looking like starving artists no matter how successful they get, in skintight size 27 jeans and American Apparel deep V’s. The media and entertainment industries are screaming to men that 0% body fat and a 6-pack are essential for health and happiness. And apparently they are listening.

 

In a March 24th 2012 article on CNN.com Michael Addis, a professor of psychology at Clark University noted “male college students in his classes have changed and adapted to shifting cultural norms. In recent years, more of them spend time in the gym, focus on their appearance and monitor body mass.” He says “As women gain more financial power in society, men are expected to bring more to the table…In addition to being financially successful, they need to be well-groomed, in good shape, emotionally skilled in relationships and the emphasis on looking good is just part of the bigger package…” So a threat to male masculinity is motivating men to adopt behaviors traditionally attributed to women such as dieting and excessive exercise? Not according to some psychologists who believe men are actually trying to look more masculine by developing an obsession with muscle definition and fitness.

 

Clearly the reasons men develop eating disorders can be multifold and will be different for each person. Unfortunately, in males the disease often goes undiagnosed, at least until the patient is very ill, because doctors often won’t suspect anorexia in a male patient. Also, men are less likely to seek help due to the stigma of the disease, and the belief that it is primarily a female disease. As a result men on average will suffer with the disease longer than females, an average of 8 years. Many treatment facilities don’t admit male patients. These factors combined can be deadly, since according to the article in GQ as well as several other sources, the mortality rate of anorexia is up to 10%.

 

Most women know what it’s like to struggle with our body image. Therefore we may be in an opportune position to recognize if a man in our life is struggling with some of the same issues. It may be easier for him to talk to someone who can be empathetic rather than his male friends who he may feel aren’t experiencing the same pressures and insecurities. And the next time you find yourself worrying about what a man thinks of you, remember, he’s probably worrying about the same thing. So give yourself a break and give him one too. Nobody’s perfect.

 

 

Why do you buy? (And no one asked you Karl Lagerfeld!)

June 13, 2012

The June issue of Elle Canada magazine features an article by Ben Barry (a modelling agent) titled “New Business Model” which basically summarizes his Ogilvy Foundation funded, Cambridge University thesis research regarding how “models-depending on their size, age, and race-influence purchasing decisions.” He notes this research differs from the majority of research into the use of extremely thin models in advertising which has traditionally focused on the impact this can have on women’s body image. As in it has already been scientifically proven that looking at gorgeous, thin, photoshopped models makes women feel crappy. Mr. Barry used a study group of more than 2 500 women aged 14 to 65 and sizes 0 to 18 from a variety of ethnic groups. He had them look at fake fashion ads all featuring the same product but with different models. The models differed in size, race, and age. He asked the women their purchase intentions when they looked at the pictures of women with similar and dissimilar sizes, ages and races as themselves. After the study, he also facilitated focus groups to discuss with the women why they may have made the decisions they did.

I think pretty much most women can guess what the results were. Women increased their purchase intentions more than 200% when the models in the mock ads were their size. When the women were over size 6 this increased to 300%. Purchase intentions also increased substantially (175%, 200% in women over 35) when women saw models their own age. Black women were 1 and a half  more likely to buy a product if the model was black. Why? In focus groups women explained that they could better imagine what the product would look like on them when the model looked like on them.  Would it look good on their body type? Would it be age appropriate? Would it look nice with their complexion?

Mr. Barry did not just do this research for his own interest’s sake. His ultimate intention is to show fashion companies that it would be fiscally wise for them to use a more diverse range of models in their ads and in their fashion shows. That it would attract a broader range of customers. As most of us are aware, most models in magazines are strikingly similar in terms of body size and shape. Even so-called “plus size” models are often smaller than the average American woman. And when was the last time you saw a woman in her late 30’s or 40’s (or older!) advertising anything fashionable? It is rare, unless it is an actress who has botoxed herself back to before she married Ashton Kutcher. Barry quotes the legendary and distasteful Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld (most recent offense being calling singer Adelle fat) “Unreachable beauty is a reminder to make an effort. But if you see something, and you can reach what you see, then you do not have to make an effort anymore.” Blech. I guess that explains his face.

Oompa Loompa

Karl Lagerfeld

While I agree that doing sit-ups with a picture of Gisele Bundchen on your ceiling may be quite motivating, I doubt most women would look at her in a bikini and want to run out and buy the same one. Watching the Victoria Secret fashion show does not make me feel like any sort of angel. The recent trend of using very young actresses to sell adult designer clothing lines, such as Dakota and Elle Fanning for Marc Jacobs or Hailee Steinfeld for Miu Miu is very perplexing to me. I don’t look at a child in an outfit and imagine myself in the same one. Most children and young adults I know could never afford designer clothing. It would only seem rational to target advertising to the middle aged women with established careers who are actually buying these clothes. On the other end of the spectrum, many ads show women my age (30ish) wearing incredibly short shorts (bum cleavage? Please!), jeggings, crop tops, or neon. I have no desire whatsoever to relive my teens. I have also seen ads  for skirts, suit jackets with bras underneath, or see-through  button-downs portrayed to be career wear. If I get fired, will Karl Lagerfeld hire me in Oompa Loompa Land? If I promise to keep reaching for that unreachable beauty?

Once and a while you will see a glimpse of a model in a magazine who doesn’t look emaciated, or who has a wrinkle on her perfect forehead. More and more fashion shows will send out 1 or 2 “plus size models” down their runway. Perhaps research such as Barry’s will help to convince fashion companies that diversity and a touch of reality in fashion is not a bad thing. I think Karl Lagerfeld is a lost cause. However the fashion world is ripe with successful female designers both established and up-and-coming who will hopefully have a better grasp on the female market and on the female psyche. Until then we will just have to rely on our own common sense, honest friends and camera phones to guide our purchase intentions. Just never trust the change room mirrors. They lie.

Consumer or Consumed? See it, Want it, Need it, Have it.

June 10, 2012

Disclaimer to my dad: Do not read this.

Last week at work, I got a large ink stain on my beautiful $250 Tory Burch burnt orange wallet. Devastated, I almost cried, but then I would have smudged my $35 Christian Dior mascara. Still feeling downtrodden after work I walked outside and of course it was raining, not unusual for Vancouver. Still, my $200 denim Filson tote bag does not zip up and I did not want it’s contents to get wet, and I was sporting my $300 open-toed Jeffery Campbell clogs. I couldn’t possibly walk to the bus stop in this state, so I opted to take a cab. At home, I did some research into the removal of ink stains from leather and was able to clean my wallet with the first aid staple isopropyl alcohol. I was so giddy at my resourcefulness that I felt I should reward myself. Essentially I had saved the price of a new wallet. Since I needed to return something at the nearest Winners I decided to go shopping. While there I was ecstatic to find that they had Hudson jeans in stock for half of the regular $200 retail price. What a great deal! I have been doing “The Brazilian Butt Workout” (purchased from an infomercial for $69.99) religiously. It has guaranteed to bring my bottom from flat to fab, and while I have noticed no change as of yet, nothing makes your ass look better than designer jeans! I have a chest of drawers full of them to prove it. And because they were half price, I opted to buy 2 instead of 1. It only makes financial sense.

I tell you all of this not to brag about my possessions or to give you mundane details of my life. I want to illustrate that I am the penultimate consumer of goods. Ads in fashion magazines? I am their target customer. Billboards? They scream to me. Why are there ads in buses, on the backs of toilet stalls, before previews in movies or on the backs of seats in cabs? For people like me. As much as I try to resist the evil influence of media, I am bewitched by the sparkling jewels, the perfectly pulled together models, the picture of the happy life that one pair of patent stilettos will bring me. Rationally, I know it is all fake. The models are photoshopped. The scenery is just a set. The smiles are forced. But when I see the ads, or the beautiful merchandise carefully and captivatingly displayed in the store, I am no less seduced. My pulse quickens, my breathing shallows. The commercial equivalent of the bad boy who’s no good for you, but who you just can’t get enough of.

It may seem I covet only designer brands. Not so. I am not exclusive. I want everything. It’s true that as I have gotten older I have begun to appreciate quality more, but I don’t search out brand names and actually prefer not to wear anything with a flashy label. (I might be a sucker for billboards, but I don’t want to BE one). Make something appealing in some clever and manipulative way, and I will be enticed to buy it. Half price? SOLD! Sample sale? I will push a physically disabled child out of the way to buy a fur coat in July. If it is limited edition, I’ll take 2. I don’t understand the concept of choosing between 2 items. Why make a decision you might second guess when you could just buy both and be twice as happy? Internet shopping is a skill. I am an expert. I believe you can never, ever have too many shoes. Shoes are like diamonds. They are forever. Your ass might get too fat for your jeans. Your feet will never get too fat for your shoes. If they do, you can still put them on display in a cabinet because they are works of art.

I fell in love with Tom Ford’s Santal Blush perfume. It is the most expensive perfume I have ever bought but I can’t get enough of it. It is my favorite of the 11 perfumes I currently have. Of course it is limited edition. Almost as soon as I bought the first bottle I started to worry. What will I do when this runs out?  When the worry became panic I bought a second bottle. My fear abated. Now I am almost halfway done the first bottle and I am becoming uneasy again. It is sold out but I could probably get a bottle on Ebay for a somewhat reasonable price. In London, I spotted a girl wearing a pair of wedge sneakers on the Subway. I needed to have them. All I knew was they were black and white and they had the word limited on them. As I am a self-proclaimed expert at internet shopping I was able to find out that they were the limited edition Ash Bowie high-top trainer. I found them at Selfridge’s and bought them for a steal at 150 pounds. I chose to ignore the 1.6 exchange rate. It was exhilarating. If I couldn’t have found them there, I could have ordered them online. I have both US and UK mailing addresses in case websites won’t mail to Canada. I can have packages forwarded to me from these mailboxes. This is necessary for all of the internet shopping I do. I recently wrote an exam through work. As a reward to myself, I decided I should buy myself something. I bought a $400 rose gold Tiffany key. I deserved it. Of course the results don’t come for 6-8 weeks, but I feel good about it. When I get the results, I’ll really celebrate. A pair of earrings caught my eye in the window of a Tibetan shop the other day. I stopped in and ended up talking to the owner for some length about Buddhism. He was so kind, I felt compelled to buy something. After all, he is an independent business owner and likely struggling in this economy. I bought a handcrafted steel wool scarf and a book in addition to the earrings. The book is on my bookshelf along with the 20 or so others I have not yet read. I buy books at a greater speed than I can read them. I could go on, but I think you get the drift.

From what you have read above you probably imagine me to be completely shallow and vain, not to mention imprudent and lacking in intelligence. This is not true in general. I am quite clever. I put myself through university mainly with scholarships and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I have a good job, a pretty healthy amount of money in savings and am not in debt. I make an effort to be well rounded, enjoying several pastimes apart from shopping. I like reading, I dabble in photography, I jog, spend time with friends and my fiancee, take a dance class, am learning the guitar and of course write this blog. So if I have half a brain, and I recognize I have a problem, why don’t I just stop buying things I don’t need? Simple enough. Except that it’s not. Drug addicts can, for the most part, stay away from drugs, if they avoid the people and places associated with their drug addiction. Alcoholics can avoid alcohol. I can avoid the mall, buying magazines, or internet shopping. But I can’t avoid ads entirely. They are everywhere. I also can’t avoid seeing ‘things’ everywhere that I will want. I can’t avoid stores for the rest of my life. Eventually I will need to buy something necessary for life, whether it be food or drink, or even clothing, which is a necessity, although admittedly not in the excess that I indulge in it. Furthermore, as a woman who has a history of an eating disorder, I am at increased risk of addiction. Up to 50% of eating disorder patients abuse alcohol or drugs compared to just 9% of the general population. Bulimia has an obsessive compulsive component, so it is no surprise that I would substitute this type of behaviour with compulsive shopping. Impulsivity is a personality trait linked to bulimia. It is also a characteristic of shopping addiction.

Is my behavior out of my control? Of course not. It may take some work, but I have overcome worse. I have a wedding coming up, and I would rather serve Bollinger than Budweiser so I have a strict budget to adhere to. It’s time to tighten the purse strings, starting now. Or maybe tomorrow. Today I think I will see if I can find a book illustrating the concept of saving. And perhaps a new purse, with strings.

SUMMER IS HERE! TIME TO GET OUT THE BATHING SUITS:)

May 16, 2012

Source:sodahead.com

The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. The temperature is rising. Summer is officially here. Spirits are high. We wait all winter for this season. We look forward to time outdoors in the parks, in the mountains and at the beach. Perhaps the only downside is that summer = bathing suit season which for us women can cause more dread than running into an ex boyfriend while at the grocery store in a sweat suit with no makeup while he is with his gorgeous new girlfriend.

There really is no greater pleasure than the search for a new swimsuit, whether for the summer season or a mid-winter vacation. There are many ways to embark on this quest. I have tried them all with differing levels of success. There is the tried and true try and buy method. No woman looks better in a bathing suit than she does under the fluorescent lighting of a department store change room. Pasty white from the winter, unshaven legs, bathing suit tried on over top of her underwear and viewing herself reflected in the funhouse mirror that seems to make its way into every change room.

Source:whohidthedonuts.blogspot.com

Buying and trying on at home can mean more flattering lighting but can lead to the depressing realization that your age is not the only thing that has gone up in the last year. Then there is the catalog or internet order method. Buying a bathing suit you admire on a swimsuit model and then guessing your size, only to receive it in the mail 4-6 weeks later and SURPRISE it doesn’t look quite the same!! Does wonders for the self esteem. Magazines this time of year will tell you that there is a bathing suit for every body type. The problem is that the models in these magazines range from 5′ 8″ to 6 feet tall and 100 pounds to 125 pounds. Their definition of curvy does not exactly represent the average woman. Most of us looking at these articles aren’t encouraged. But not to fear. There are three times as many articles telling us how to get our bodies bikini ready in 6 weeks or less. Thank you crunches! Ugh.

If you hate swimsuit shopping or donning a swimsuit you aren’t alone. A new study has found that even imagining trying on a swimsuit can put women in a bad mood. In the Journal of Sex Roles in May, psychologist Marike Tiggeman and her colleagues ‘wrote four scenarios to test the impact of clothing on self-objectification: In one, women were asked to imagine themselves trying on a swimsuit in a dressing room. In another, they imagined wearing a swimsuit while walking down a beach. The other two scenarios had the same settings, but instead of a swimsuit, the women were asked to imagine wearing jeans and a sweater.’ 102 female undergraduate students filled out questionnaires regarding their mood and feelings of body and self-objectification after imagining these scenarios. As you could imagine, imagining wearing a swimsuit made women feel worse than wearing jeans. But wearing a swimsuit in a dressing room made women most likely to self-objectify, not wearing a swimsuit walking down the beach. This shows how much self-objectification is an internal process. A 2006 study by the department of psychology at the University of California published in Body Image found that 31% of women had avoided wearing a swimsuit in public.

When it comes to attire, there is nothing more revealing a woman will wear in public than the glorified underwear that is the bathing suit. It is really no wonder women feel self conscious in swimwear. Adding to this is the mounting pressure women feel to not only have, but also to look perfect in their beach wear. Bathing suits are no longer just for the water. Victoria’s Secret fashion shows and designers have made swimwear high fashion. Couture bathing suits are found poolside at the most posh resorts and the most exotic beaches. They are a billion dollar a year business. In every magazine we see gorgeous, airbrushed women with perfect bodies modelling tiny bikinis. Tabloids determine who has the best and worst bikini bodies and call out those celebrities who have let themselves go each summer, as well as those who have (gasp) unsightly cellulite. This sends the message to us lay people that image is of utmost importance.

There are many options for swimsuits, from the bikini:

Source:telegraph.co.uk

To the tankini:

Source:modeikon.se

To the birkini:

I myself have my eye on one that I first spotted at H&M in London:

Source:www.h&m.com

It was sold out everywhere there, which tells me that I’m not the only woman that is feeling a little more modest this summer season. Or perhaps a little less interested in getting bikini ready in 6 weeks or less. But realistically, on the beach no one is airbrushed. Every woman has perceived flaws, no matter how perfect she may look to others. The important thing women need to learn is to be happy with who we are and to not obsess over every thing we want to change.

15th Century Masterpieces Revamped: Photoshopping Famous Nudes

April 12, 2012
art
The Sleeping Venus by Artemisia Gentilischi

We have all seen the paintings. In museums or art history books, magazines or as prints on people’s walls. The famous nude Venuses, painted by revered artists such as Botticelli, Ingres, and Velazquez. They are infamous beauties of their time and are still studied by people hundreds of years later. But looking at the original works we can see that these Renaissance women would not likely be cover models in today’s modern world. Cultural ideals have changed drastically throughout time, and at one time, it was considered ‘chic’ to have the sensual round curves of a woman. It represented prosperity as well as fertility. The goddess Venus in each painting depicts a woman with a rounded stomach and hips, and womanly thighs. These are real women.

Anna Utopia Giordano, an artist, model and actress decided to explore how cultural ideals have changed since these paintings were created using modern digital technology. She says on her website: “I was retouching some photographs from a shoot for a friend’s book and while I was playing with the skin tones and using corrective brush strokes, I was reflecting on society, social networks and the need to be accepted”. As a result, she decided to use the same tool that media outlets use to digitally alter advertisements and magazine stories for print in order to transform the buxom portrait goddesses into modern waifs. Photoshop. She drastically slimmed down their figures to the types of unrealistic proportions we would see in today’s media images. She also increased their breast sizes.

The result is a series of 10 revamped paintings which is now on display on her website:

http://www.annautopiagiordano.it/venus-ita.html

Says Giordano “Art is always in search of the perfect physical form – it has evolved through history, from the classical proportions of ancient Greece, to the prosperous beauty of the Renaissance, to the spindly look of models like Twiggy and the athletic look of our own time.” From her web site: “Apart from highlighting once again the amazing possibilities of digital technologies applied to art, this job from Anna Giordano is indeed a good cue to reconsider both the subjectivity of cultural standards (in facts, ours are so different from the past ones) and the inclination of modern society and advertising companies to edit most images of  feminine body in order to reach a fake perfection, corresponding to an unreachable reality.”

What an interesting experiment. This offers us yet another perspective from which to view just how much our vision of female beauty has been skewed. When these these paintings came to be, there were no cameras to capture images. Images came only from the minds eye, and their accuracy was dependent on the viewpoint or artistic judgment of the artist. The women in these paintings represented the pinnacle of beauty at that time. Similarly today, every image can altered and edited until it is almost unrecognizable from the original. In that way, photographs in the media are not really realistic representations, but really a rendering of what the ‘artist’ wants the subject to look like. We classify everything today as art: fashion, hair, makeup, jewelry etc. But it is how the people who showcase these things wear them and carry them that make them stand out. Our bodies really are an art form, and we need to reevaluate why the new modern classic is a size 00.

CAN YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE??

March 29, 2012

I had intended to blog about something entirely different today, but while researching the topic I came across something that disturbed me so much I had to rant about it. Take a close look at the picture above. What strikes you about it? You might notice that all the girls look similar. You may notice that they are similar in shape and that their poses are very alike. But look very, very closely.  You will realize that in fact their bodies are all EXACTLY same. This is an H&M ad campaign. Each of these girl’s faces has been pasted onto an identical body. This alone would be disturbing. But there is more. This is not just the usual photoshopping that is commonplace today in advertising. The body that you see does not belong to a real woman. It is a computer generated image.  According to a Swedish press spokesman for the company, photographers “take pictures of the clothes on a doll that stands in the shop, and then create the human appearance with a program on a computer.”  The company feels that by doing this, the focus is kept on the clothes and not on the models.  H&M’s US spokesperson Nicole Christie said “This technique can be found in use throughout the industry. This is not to be seen as conveying a specific ideal or body type, but merely a technique to show our garments. It is regrettable if we have led anyone to believe that the virtual mannequins should be real bodies. This is incorrect and has never been our intention.” These images are shown throughout their website and print ads. It is unclear how customers would be expected to believe they are anything but real women, except for the fact that they are absolutely flawless and their bodies are essentially humanly unattainable.

The controversy surrounding the altering of digital images in advertising is old news. Whether to sell clothes, to sell magazines, to promote music or to further an image it seems that beauty is essential and that the reality is never as good as the fantasy that can be generated with a few strokes of the keyboard. The computer can do as little as fix a blemish or a shadow or completely change a woman’s body. In 2009 Ralph Lauren released an ad featuring model Philippa Hamilton which was altered to the extent that her waist was smaller than her head. She looked so out of proportion that it drew outrage and mockery from several media outlets and blogs. In fact, the real model was a healthy and normal looking young woman. She was subsequently fired from the brand, she claims for being too “fat”. Below is this example as well as other notable examples of digital alterations.

Phillippa Hamilton photoshopped (left) and natural (right)

Katie Couric

Jessica Alba

There does seem to be some hope on the horizon, as people seem to be speaking out about this type of media deception. As discussed in my last entry, certain countries are establishing or trying to establish guidelines which would require advertisers to disclose when images have been photoshopped or altered.  It seems magazines may be listening too. Glamour magazine recently polled its readers and found that 60 percent don’t want ads to mislead them, and that  78 percent were opposed to slimming a body to look even five pounds lighter. As a result , the magazine has decided to limit it’s retouching. It has vowed “A pimple or wrinkle may be removed, but making a celebrity impossibly thin or otherwise altering the face or physique of its models will no longer be tolerated at Glamour, even if the celebrity asks for it.” Bravo. Now maybe if magazines start hiring models that are the size of normal women, we might get somewhere.