Given how pervasive airbrushing and Photoshopping have become in really any type of media, it’s not surprising that we’ve forgotten that almost image we see has been digitally manipulated in one way or another. Anna Hill decided to center her final project in a digital photography class at East Carolina University on the all-reaching impact of Photoshopping, and to challenge our notions of what is “normal,” when in fact we mean “airbrushed.” Her project involves a series of fake advertisements for Photoshop, because, as she points out, most photos “are altered so much, they may as well be advertising Photoshop rather than the products they actually sell.”
The images she created are bold and effective, and do a great job at showing us that our idea of conventional beauty is largely created on a computer screen. It gives us an idea of what beauty looks like that quite literally does not exist in the real world. In fact, Hill told The Huffington Post:
”One thing I noticed when I was doing these that when I suddenly went back to the unedited [image], it looked so wrong and kinda gross. It made me extra aware of how skewed my perception was after looking at the edited ones for a while.”
I’ve been guilty of this myself–either when watching celebrities on a super HD TV or seeing them in one of those “Celebs Without Makeup” features. I’ve thought that they looked markedly worse, and it took me a moment to realize that actually, they were strikingly beautiful. They just looked human.
This project is fantastic, and hats off to Anna Hill for poignantly illustrating our culture’s obsession with a made up standard of beauty that simply doesn’t occur in nature. The more I look at airbrushed, processed photos, the more I see the Uncanny Valley phenomenon happening, and I’m put off by what I see. I just want to see real women, and by that I mean any woman ever or person who identifies as a woman, without airbrushing.
Photos: Anna Hill