Photoshop needs to stop

Meghan Trainor Photoshop

In the original music video for Me Too, Meghan Trainor’s waist has been visibly altered. Credit: populove.net

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop/
We know that it ain’t real, come on now, make it stop

Ever since the release of her hit All About That Bass in 2014, singer Meghan Trainor has become something of an icon for body confidence. With her catchy lyrics about self-acceptance, she inspired many people to love themselves and turn against the harmful standards peddled by the media.

This makes the controversy surrounding her latest music video seem more than a touch ironic. Earlier this week Trainor took down the YouTube video for her latest single Me Too after discovering that her waist had been digitally altered in post-production.

She claimed that the changes had been made without her approval, but this still raises questions about celebrities and body image.

Trainor is utterly gorgeous, a talented singer, and clearly confident with who she is and what she looks like. If even she is altered for public consumption, then where does that leave the rest of us?

Sadly, this is just one in a long line of cases where celebrities have hit back after their images have been photoshopped for publications.

Actresses Rumer Willis and Lena Dunham and even tennis star Serena Williams have all been victims of extreme photoshopping. One thing that they are all quick to emphasise is that in real life they do not look like that. But with the practice of photoshopping and digital alteration so widespread, it seems that a photograph rarely makes it into a magazine or onto the television without some form of manipulation.

Even us ordinary people are being encouraged to alter our photographs to portray our best selves. With Instagram filters and photo editing apps, it’s easy to even out your skin tone or hide a spot.

But the more we edit our photographs, the less real they become.

We are now living in a world where a straightforward portrayal of yourself never seems good enough. After all, if these celebrities can achieve perfection, then we should be able to as well – right?

But this emphasis on perfection can only ever be damaging. The pictures we see of celebrities with flawless airbrushed skin and not a hair out of place have been carefully modified, sometimes even beyond recognition. These photographs are distortions, yet people see them as a goal to pursue.

But what we are trying to reach is not real, and so can never be achieved. The people we see represented in these pictures simply do not exist. We fruitlessly convince ourselves that we too can be like them, with the right make-up, the right product, or the right weight. But we cannot, and this is where the problem lies.

The moral dilemma with photoshopping goes far beyond the world of celebrity. The people who are most impacted by these altered images are you and me – the actual consumers of this media.

They are the ones developing eating disorders because they are convinced that they are not the right body shape. They are the ones who will never be satisfied with the way they look because they don’t have the legs of Taylor Swift or the arse of Beyoncé. We will never be happy with our appearance unless we realise that you don’t need to look like a cover star to be beautiful.

Beauty is subjective, and always has been. The culture we are living in has conditioned us to hate ourselves, and our views have become so warped that we don’t realise that this is not normal.

The media telling us how to look and giving us impossible standards to live up to only adds fuel to the fire. By showing celebrities as they really are, rather than as perfect beings, it tells us that nobody is perfect, and that’s okay.

The most important thing is learning to love yourself, even with your imperfections. With celebrities like Meghan Trainor making a stand against photoshopping, we are making a start on turning around these views on body image. But we still have a long way to go.

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