Our Photoshopping Disorder Literature Review: A Distorted Perception of Beauty in Modern Society

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Almost every single day when we get on social media, there is always a picture that shows a person having no flaws and being the definition of perfect. This is all done thanks to Photoshop. In “Our Photoshopping Disorder,” written by Erin Cunningham, the article explains how editing pictures to show unrealistic expectations of body figures and facial features can have a great effect on the younger generations. More than just effecting one’s own thoughts and how they view certain things, photoshopped images can also create emotional, mental, and physical health issues. (Cunningham 216). Today’s media plays a huge role in this generation and it is important that we teach everyone the truth behind certain images they see.

Seth Matlins, a former Hollywood marketing executive, published an article titled, “Why Beauty Ads Should Be Legislated,” that called for action from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to improve these deceitful media expectations. (Cunningham 216). There have even been many celebrities who have called out photoshoppers for what they have done because they heavily edit the picture without consent and post them online. It affects many people and having a person who has an abundant audience say how they feel about Photoshop and the damage it can do definitely helps the situation. (Cunningham 216.) Not only do regular people want to take action, but people who have a bigger voice than most agree that these pictures can be detrimental towards the younger generation. Some corporations have been getting involved to set the record straight.

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In 2011, the American Medical Association came out and said that something needs to be done about this exposure to the younger generation in advertisements and all around social media. (Cunningham 216). According to the National Institute on Media and Family, 53% of 13-year-olds are bothered by their appearance, and reaches 78% at age 17. (Cunningham 217). Along with feeling displeased and frustrated because of these photographs, it also causes mental illnesses such as eating disorders and depression. (Cunningham 217). Even though many attempts have been made and are still being made to fix the issue, it’s difficult to do so without interfering with the first amendment and restricts artistic expressions. (Cunningham 218).

Regardless of the industry not making any changes to improve the practice in the recent years, many companies have made a no-photoshop pledge in favor of women of all shapes and sizes. (Goodnet 1). Aerie, a lingerie line for American Eagle, made this pledge and now has become a sponsor for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). This spreads awareness for disorders, creates educational programs, and provides support for the community. (Goodnet 1).

Another way the attention of these images has spread is due to celebrities slamming a photoshopped image of them being posted online. Lili Reinhart, Riverdale star, accused Cosmopolitan Philippines of editing a picture of her and her co-star on the show. She began explaining how it’s important to feel confident in your own body and how it takes effort to actually achieve that. Then she proceeded to show the original photo alongside the picture that had been photoshopped to make her point. (Yang 1). Many companies have faced embarrassing comments about publishing obvious images that were photoshopped, and that is why more companies are making a stand against Photoshop. Dove has been trying to get more companies to join the pledge by creating motivating campaigns that feature untouched images of different models to feel relatable and reachable. (Wolfson 1).

Standing beside everyone else, licensed professionals and therapists have reported the negative impacts Photoshop has on society. Dr. Rachel O’Neill, a licensed clinical counselor stated that impossible standards of beauty can result in feeling like you aren’t good enough and that can have a great effect on you. (Flynn 1).

When seeing these highly edited pictures, we have to understand that it is all fake. Even though there are many companies and people fighting against Photoshop, it is still going to take some time to win the battle to stop the misuse of photoshop. Although Photoshop may never stop being used in misleading ways, we have to keep fighting against it for the sake of all generations and our mental well-being. In the generation today, the media has a huge impact on our lives and that will never change. So what if it never ends, but Photoshop has affected so many people already and we have to take a stand to end the deception.

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