The *Other* Side of Re-Touching

My friend Lara shared a post today on Facebook that I just couldn’t look at and not want to scream from the mountain tops. Not at Lara, of course, but at our thin-obsessed society which fuels body dysmorphia, anorexia and bulimia and various forms of disordered eating.

This was the post she shared: Re-Touching the Consequences of Extreme Thinness.

As I commented on Lara’s post, this is just sad. Retouching to “create” a healthy image (either making a healthy model look even thinner or making a too-thin model look fuller) is pure deception … and yet consumers buy into it, time and time again. And try to emulate it. It’s sad on SO many levels.


How is a young girl today supposed to feel looking at models in magazines that are, plain and simple, created? What is on those pages are complete works of fiction. They might as well be cartoons, they’re so unrealistic.

And while we hear all the time about thin models being given the Photoshopping treatment — lighting fire to the whole “thinspo” movement — it was news to me that Photoshopping goes the other way, too … making emaciated models look curvier, rounder, more robust.

Women’s bodies are ALL different. There are tons of women out there who are, naturally, tall and thin, waif-like. They don’t need to “work” for their bodies; they just got lucky in the gene pool. And though they aren’t anorexic or bulimic, on first impression people might (wrongly) make assumptions. These women struggle with an entirely different level of scrutinizing an overweight woman might endure. The point is, we should be able to embrace and accept ALL different bodies.

Why do we need to manipulate a thin woman to make her even thinner, or plump up an emaciated model so she looks “acceptable?” even though they’ve still left her teensy-tiny 22-inch waist intact? These women need to be hospitalized, not glamorized! It’s completely screwed up and above all, is a LIE. A big, fat lie. In which absolutely no one wins.

*Not the little girl who dreams of gracing the cover of Vogue or Elle.

*Not the freshman in high school secretly binging and purging every night, who thinks if she could only have more willpower against food,  she’d be more popular.

*Not the young woman watching her sister spiral down yet another dark staircase into her eating disorder.

*And not the mom who is afraid to share her daughter’s ice cream cone because she’ll “get fat” and obsesses over scale fluctuations

None of us win when distorted images like those featured in the article are the norm. We all lose.

*We lose our sense of individuality (we don’t accept ourselves as we are … “flaws” and all)

*We lose our sense of sisterhood (body-snarking –visually or literally — is just another form of bullying)

*And we lose our moral compass (how, oh HOW, is it OK that we’re so immune to Photoshopped images that we just accept it?)

So many of these images we see are, literally, impossible to obtain without the magic wand of Photoshop.

I am so sad for the world my daughter will be growing up in. I will try to protect her as best I can, but media influence is everywhere and I don’t see the shift toward genuine body acceptance happening anytime soon — especially as the fight against obesity wages on.

I want her to grow up with a healthy body image: that she is strong and beautiful. My favorite body part of hers right now is her big, round 2-year old belly. It’s absolutely delicious: kissable and ticklish. And I adore how she struts her stuff–like a bird, preening, belly puffed out 24/7, not a care in the world that her belly — firm and round — goes over the elastic waist of her leggings. But in a couple years, if I’m not careful to teach her to love herself — body and all —  that very same adorable belly could be her shame. And I do NOT want that to happen.

How about you? Did you know re-touching goes both ways? Does it enrage you as much as it enrages me? How do you think distorted media images affect your perception of what is “normal?”



3 thoughts on “The *Other* Side of Re-Touching

  1. Beautifully critiqued, as I knew it would be.
    What startled me most about the article was the twist in perspective: it’s well known that women are photoshopped to look leaner. It is NOT well known that extreme thinness is sometimes “unpretty” enough to get photoshopped as well. I wish more young women knew this.

  2. I’ve recently started a website, the info you provide on this website has helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work. “Everyone is responsible and no one is to blame.” by Will Schutz.

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