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Should Photoshopped Pictures Be Labelled?

From J-Law’s controversial Flare cover to models being retouched to actually look healthier, the ‘photoshop debate’ is constantly being revisited. Today’s topic of discussion: Should photoshopped pictures be labeled? A Dartmouth professor explores:


Photo: The New York Times

Take a look at any fashion magazine, and you’ll see countless images of airbrushed perfection. Even the most gorgeous celebrities and models have their pictures altered by professional retouchers using Photoshop. The software does what no makeup artist can: it erases every blemish, lengthens limbs, and sculpts inches off the waist. All of us know that the flawless pictures we find in glossy mags have been enhanced. Yet it’s still hard to convince ourselves that the pictures we pore over are fantasy, not real. Seeing is believing.

Now a Dartmouth professor is proposing a way to measure how dramatically photos have been Photoshopped. The New York Times reports that the professor’s new software tool labels photos on a 1-5 scale, with 5 representing the most altered end of the spectrum. The rating system is intended to make ads more transparent and help women distinguish fact from fiction. Studies suggest that looking at idealised photos of models for just three minutes makes women feel worse about their own bodies. While we’re intrigued by the proposed rating system, the question remains: is labelling airbrushed photos enough to remind us that no one looks as good in real life as they do post-Photoshop?



5 comments Leave a comment
  • Shireen

    Yes they should be labelled as photoshopped ! Why fill a media’s representation of a woman’s body? The media should realise that they have created a whole generation of females who are unhappy with their body and self image just because of these photoshopped images which are sometimes much more fake than a barbie and put unrealistic expectations from the coming generation from both the sexes! PLEASE STOP!

  • Joe Friswell

    No, a pic is pic, not – to me anyway – a statement of reality.

  • Danni

    I think they should. I understand that photography is the form of art and should stay like this. But would be nice to see Photoshop to be used where it’s needed not everywhere. It’s ease to make a photo and then recreate it to something new and great – I can do that :) but a real photographer should be able to show the beauty of a reality…

  • American

    Maybe that the original must be cited just as we do in writing.

  • Rebecca

    Yes, brilliant idea – perhaps it would encourage brands to stop overphotoshopping their images as they probably wouldn’t want to admit they were editing their images!