Has photoshop gone too far? Do you "erase" your face at home?

Admit it. You've done it or been tempted to do it probably many times over.

You have a look at a casual photo just taken perhaps with your kids and family and think "Where did those circles come from?"

Or you're tempted to erase, just a little, to take away those tiny imperfections which, make you look tired, older, etc. You use "enhance" and "erase" and whatever other tools at your disposal before you post to your Facebook page.

We've all done it and there's nothing necessarily wrong with it. Or is there?

When I got my first iMac over 10 years ago and started tooling around on iPhoto, I very soon realized that my children and my future grandchildren need never know how tired I looked just about all the time.

Circles around the eyes start pretty young in my family and by my late 30s and into my 40s, they started to become less circles, more troughs. The older I got and with more sophisticated HD cameras becoming available at very reasonable price-points, the more the “enhance” and “airbrush” tools became my friends.

Problem was, as I entered the “invisible woman” years, I was literally erasing my own face (at least in photos). And of course, this was happening all around me (and had been for years) in editorial and advertising content on the web, in magazines, etc. In the public sphere even young faces are routinely digitally altered.

Okay, it was decades ago, but, there was a time when even a glossy fashion behemoth like Vogue published photos of admittedly stunning women but, who had the odd expression line on their faces. Here’s one of actress Charlotte Rampling published way back when.

When I saw this November 2013 photograph of already gorgeous actress Kate Winslet on the cover of American Vogue, I thought, this has gone far enough, hasn’t it? She doesn’t look so much airbrushed as plasticized – a doll version of herself. Her face is literally lifeless. Beautiful in a way that a sculpture is.

I wasn’t the only one to notice. There was a media maelstrom on the subject (moreso in the British press.) But look at her in this photograph by Chuck Close for Vanity Fair (you'll have to click on the arrow once you arrive at the link, to see the shot and also a whole gamut of his photos of other big names in Hollywood.) She looks great and real. She hardly needs to be re-touched – she’s only in her late 30s after all (!) even to sell Vogue covers. And what’s sad is that it’s actually become jarring to see a “real” photograph! Especially of someone in the media.

Sometimes even the stellar subject will object as singer Lorde did recently, through her twitter feed (shared here) about a retouched pic of herself during a  live concert. She included an un-retouched one of herself from the same event and added, “Remember flaws are okay.”

She’s right, in fact I think, they can be amazing. Actually, are they even flaws? It seems to be the wrong word as it implies blame, or something done wrong and of course, imperfection.

 But it wasn’t until I saw an online article in The Guardian, a UK daily news site, which detailed novelist’s Laura Lippman‘s inspiration to post a selfie of her 55-year-old self without make-up but with “kind lighting,” in solidarity with a much-criticized Kim Novak back at the Oscar’s, that I thought perhaps I could do the same.

Am I brave for leaving the lines on my face? I actually thought this was a pretty good pic  (early in the wee hours I can look much, much more puffy shall we say?) until I started “erasing” to show a before/after effect (actually a little more than creepy when viewed close-up.) I may not look like I did when I was in my 20s, do I have to!? I don't know if I'm being hopelessly old-fashioned, but I like the natural grooves of age and life lived on a face. (Note to readers of Blogher: I haven't figured out how to insert my own photos otherwise would've included the before and after. You can see original post with photos here.)

The fact is, I’m all for anyone deciding on what “beauty” is for themselves. But if we keep erasing, we’ll have fewer and fewer references for all the possibilities of what could be termed gorgeous or just plain real! Do we need to raise the bar that much higher?


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