Dear Eyes. You Are Being Lied To.

March 18, 2013

 youarebeingliedtoAmazing Photoshopped Images

Do your brain a favor.  Go here now:  Seventeen Mesmerizing Before After Photoshop Gifs.

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The Best is Not Good Enough?  Not a Problem.  Photoshop to the Rescue!

These Photoshopped images are wonderful examples of how far the art of visual deceit has come. These are beautiful women with bodies that are closer to the ideal than most of ever had or will have.  These women have the budget and time for healthy eating and a personal trainer.  These women likely already started “ahead” with what genetics contributed.  And as if these advantages weren’t enough, they are transformed by a team of stylists before a photo shoot.  We never stood a chance of having a picture of ourselves look as amazing as these women.  And yet being one of the most beautiful people in the world is no longer enough.  Celebrities are routinely subjected to a virtual nip and tuck bonanza before their image ever reaches our eyes.

Photoshopping:  Now with More Deceit!

Yes, already ample breasts are often enhanced.  And already slim waists and arms reduced.  But it goes so much farther than that.  Pick any image and watch it flick back and forth between real and unreal several times.  Look for the smallest changes that are being made.

  • See Beyonce’s already slim face gets trimmed ever slightly more.
  • See the lines removed from Megan Fox’s neck to make her skin look younger.
  • See the one eye that is raised on Angelina Jolie to make her look more symmetrical.
  • See Katy Perry’s forehead get reduced on the right side.
  • See Faith Hill’s already slender back get trimmed along with her arm being reduced almost in half.
  • On the second image of Megan Fox, see her already full bottom lip get plumped, and already seemingly perfect eyebrows get reshaped.

“I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford”

It’s important to understand just what “Photoshopped” means.  We aren’t talking about just adding a cup size or two in a bathing suit.  Today’s Photoshopped images are a study of intolerance for human beauty.  Cindy Crawford famously once said, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”  Even she can’t meet the beauty ideal put forth by her own image. 

You are being lied to.  Your eyes are one of the most important tools you have for taking in the reality of how things are.  When I talk about using distress tolerance skills, I often suggest techniques using the senses, particularly the generally dominant sensory system of vision.  I suggest using vision precisely because our senses are here to detect what is present and true.  Turning our attention to the truth of the present can help pull us out of a looping internal narrative that is causing us pain. And so!  Photoshopping images of bodies is a particularly dangerous way that our understanding of reality is being altered.

Our brains trust that what it sees is true.  It has virtually no defenses to prevent Photoshopped images being uploaded from our eyes to our filing system of “human bodies” in the brain.  The repeated exposure to these images alters the file we have in our head of “human bodies.”  We begin to look around us and notice “flaws.”  But these flaws are only detection of differences between an unrealistic ideal that snuck into your head and the reality of beauty that surrounds us.

Back to Life.  Back to Reality.

So what can we do to keep ourselves from being hurt by these visual lies?  Keeping our eyes shut at all times would certainly be 100% effective, but also probably impact our lives in other ways.  (Move over texting while driving.  Here comes Driving with Eyes Closed!).  But when we see an image in advertising we can remind ourselves that it’s a lie.  We can upload visual information of real bodies by looking at the diversity around us.  Careful – our eyes loves to look for examples only of bodies that are “better” than ours in some ways.  Choose to look around at ALL of the bodies that surround you.  Young ones.  Old ones.  Different skin and hair and teeth and genders.  Each body carrying around a person with hopes and fears and a desire to connect and be loved.  And the same is true for you.   You deserve to be loved, and to love your body for what it does for you in this moment.  It will never be perfect, because perfect doesn’t exist.  But your body is here now.  Practice being grateful for what it does for you, and the beauty that exists in the uniqueness of you.

And for goodness sakes, don’t compare your body to a picture!

(If you find that your body image concerns are significant enough to impact your life on a daily basis, I’d recommend checking out this book:  The Body Image Workbook.)

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One Response to “Dear Eyes. You Are Being Lied To.”

  1. Lori said

    Love this post! What an eye-opener. I think it’s really sad that there is a cultural bias. Because although I thought it was disgusting what they did to women, like cutting out one of the girls back or giving some Selma Hayek a waist, what really shocked me was when they did George Clooney. My first reaction was he was good enough to begin with. But why don’t I have that overwhelming shock with the others? The whole thing was self image and what photo shopping does sucks. But it also sucks that we have such a cultural bias. But it’s alright for men to get old But not women. Thanks for sharing this!

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