Kickass Photoshop Parody Ads Will Smash Your Perception Of Conventional Beauty

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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.”

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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.

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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

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    • Kay_Sue

      I am going to print this out and put it in our “Things to Discuss with Our Teenagers” folder.

      • Simone

        Ha, you parent like me! It’s a brilliant project and so obvious, so simple.

      • whiteroses

        Yep- both our boys and our girls need to have this discussion with us, imho.

      • Crusty (I HATE TAXES) Socks

        You have 4 or more kids?

    • Katja Yount

      South Park also did this hilariously just this week.

      On a personal note, as a graphic designer and photo editor my philosophy on PhotoShop has been thus: Only correct blemishes and zits. They don’t represent the subject in their best light but freckles, scars and crows feet are acceptable as they are wholly part of the subject. I also airbrush out fly aways. Damn the fly aways!

      • Litterboxjen

        Thank you for this. We were asked to submit photos to our work’s “holiday pictures” slideshow, and a coworker of mine had someone photoshop her hips and waist to be slimmer before she submitted her picture. That pissed me off so much — everyone’s looking at the picture of your kid (which was the focus of the photo), not your stupid waist/hips. And even if they were, what message is it send to your kid if you’re changing pictures of how you looked to reflect how you wished you looked instead? Grr.

      • Nancy

        That South Park episode was amazing!

    • Crusty (I HATE TAXES) Socks

      Mens’ version includes extending their junk…

      ermm…… but others do… I heard