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Body Image, Lady Gaga and Vogue: Does It Matter?

We aren’t the first ones to blog about this, and we most certainly won’t be the last! So the big news is, Vogue have released behind the scene images of the September cover featuring Lady Gaga, and the differences of the before and after shot (see pictured). One image has been taken using a professional camera with hours of post-editing, whilst the other has been captured with what looks to be a crappy phone camera.

Now okay, it’s a shocker, but we all know magazines airbrush until the cows come home. The media know what sells and what doesn’t, and because of the culture we live in, there would have been a backlash if they had released the second image on the cover of Vogue. The world isn’t a friendly place and nobody listened to the line in Bambi saying if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

When it comes to post-editing, the media and the ‘real’ world have very different views. It isn’t okay to over airbrush – this generation of young girls and guys are growing up thinking they have to aspire to be what people might see as ‘perfect’. That they have to be thin, have blemish free skin, no pores, have cheek bones, etc. It’s funny how a lot of people probably don’t realise that they take so much of this stuff in, but we constantly consume media every day through so many different mediums. In reality, perfection doesn’t actually exist. As Kate Nash said to us, women are criticised constantly in women’s magazines about how they look, their age and weight. We get ‘un-airbrushed’ images of celebrities looking rough with no make-up on pushed in our faces as if to say this is wrong – women should always look like they have just stepped out of a beauty salon. Is it really fair to have this perception of women? Why do they have to wear make-up, push-up bras and buy clothes that scream prostitute?

From a photographer’s point of view, airbrushing is necessary. In today’s world of harsh opinions and judgements, a well done portrait has to have at least some airbrushing which creates a flawless finish. That kind of post-editing to me is fine. We would all like lovely skin and a great smile in our photos by a top photographer. If they didn’t produce well airbrushed images, they’d be sacked from the job and people would think they were rubbish at what they do! Sad, but very, very true.

The problem is, people want to see unedited images but would they really buy them? Here is our example: people wouldn’t buy a poster of  a glamour girl with bags under her eyes, a couple of spots and skin creases in her stomach because she is sitting down. It’s a cruel thing, but people will edit all of them out as well as making her breasts bigger and her thighs smaller. It is silly, and weird, but for some reason people feel the need to change a person by post-editing to make them ‘better’ and more saleable. I have seen glamour images by professionals were the skin is so smooth it doesn’t look real, and then ones by amateurs who have left cellulite in full view on their legs. Can you tell which one would sell?

Another down side to air brushing is that it must somehow have an effect on the celebrity or model to some degree. How can Lady Gaga look at the two images above and feel good about herself knowing they have changed her body shape to make her appear thinner?

The controversy and the uproar of anger hasn’t phased Vogue at all. Don’t forget, all bad press is good press! What is your take on photo post-editing?

1 Comment on Body Image, Lady Gaga and Vogue: Does It Matter?

  1. As a photographer I think it is an awful image, so far removed from reality, I don’t like airbrushing, photoshopping, but I appreciate that a little may be necessary now and again. If I was the photographer I would be embarrassed by this. I am surprised that a magazine with such a proud history of quality fashion photography would even consider it.

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