Saying No To Photo Retouching

by MomGrind

vered deleeuw“Make me look beautiful” I implore my friend, the photographer.

“You ARE beautiful. I want to capture your uniqueness, not some cookie-cutter-type beauty. We are not going for glamor shots here.”

I look at him, disappointed. “I don’t want to look unique. I want to look beautiful.”

He sighs and hands me an Annie Leibovitz photo book. The book is amazing. It is filled with gorgeous portraits of people who are unique, interesting, and FLAWED.

I close the book and place it on the coffee table. “I wish I had professional makeup on,” I say. “Closeup photography can be so revealing.”

He looks at me disapprovingly, sighs again, and starts the photo shoot. You can see the photoshopped result above.

Photo retouching has become the norm. Want to be considered beautiful? You must have no pores, no wrinkles, no moles, no personality.

Here’s an interesting demonstration of the effects of photo retouching. The model is young and beautiful, but even with heavy makeup, she’s human and therefore not flawless:



The photographer feels that he needs to do this amount of retouching for the photo to be acceptable:

retouched-modelPhoto credit: kk+

Thankfully, the blogosphere is filled with women who are strong, smart, beautiful – and are not afraid to show the world what they really look like. All of the bloggers featured here have graciously allowed me to use their photos in this post.

Bossy recently showed us what she looks like first thing in the morning:


Catherine Connors, in her amazingly candid post What New Motherhood Looks Like, showed the world that her breasts are not perky anymore – but they are nourishing a tiny new human being:


Heather Armstrong of Dooce provided Leah Peah, who interviewed her, with a real, non-retouched photo of herself:


Kelly of SHE-POWER commented on this photo of herself: “If I was going to put a photoshopped picture of myself up, I’d choose a shot where I had make-up and eyebrows and then I’d erase those pinched lines on my forehead and give myself a tan!”


Suzanne Reisman said in her BlogHer post Join The 2008 Swimsuit Brigade For Honest Photos “Because women are bombarded with unrealistic images of women (so unrealitic, in fact, that they must be created through Photoshop because not even actual models are that thin, wrinkle-free, or flawlessly complected), we doubt ourselves.”


What these women did is important, because in a culture that puts a lot of pressure on women to be physically “perfect”, it’s important to see women who are BEAUTIFUL, strong and successful – in a real, non-airbrushed kind of way.

I didn’t think it would be fair to finish this post on photo retouching without revealing my own imperfectness. While I’m not brave enough to post a photo of myself first thing in the morning, or with no makeup on, I did ask my husband to take a quick snapshot of me as I am right now:


But the photo above lies: while it shows my shiny, reddish, discolored skin, the flash seems to have erased my crow’s feet. So here’s another photo by my photographer friend that shows them quite nicely:


So now you know: I am imperfect. And if we ever meet in person and I’m suspiciously wrinkle-free when I smile, you’ll know that I have finally succumbed to the lure of Botox, which I did consider briefly last year. But more on THAT dermatologist appointment in a future post.

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