28 thoughts on “Self Esteem Monday

  1. june

    When I was 19 or 20, (circa 1990) I took a field trip with my fellow design students to a graphic design studio in Rochester, NY. They had all manner of ginormous model headshot proofs posted all over the studio and they were all marked up with the instructions of how they were going to change them in Photoshop. I was like………OH! That one small experience did great things for my self-esteem as I realized for the first time that nearly every image of a woman that we see in print has been manipulated.

    During my years as a graphic designer, I became quite accustomed to people using Photoshop as a verb. As in “Can’t you just photoshop in more ocean in the background?!”

    We had some archaic patrons at Pepperdine who got so used to it that they became very willing to do photo shoots and would request “that computery stuff that’s better than surgery!” and then eagerly await the Photoshopped versions of themselves to come out in print.

    Now I just paint. And it’s all real.

  2. grammy

    As I was applying make-up for our big gala fundraiser yesterday, I was appreciating, anew, how happy I am to be “au naturale” (for the most part) these days. For Your Consideration: One 55-year-old woman who enjoys the freedom of a healthy-enough self-concept to finally live in a place where make-up and high heels are just a playful, alternative presentation. (Dang. Wish I’d gotten this about 30 years ago.)

  3. Carrie

    I like the idea of “naked” beauty as well, but you have to admit that every once in a while, you’d like to look like a supermodel. Every woman needs as least ONE picture of herself like that, IF it would assist her self-esteem.

    A trend that disturbs me far more than this “unnatural” beauty is the “Girls Gone Wild” phenomena. There was a great interview on “The Daily Show” the other week with Ariel Levy, author of the book “Female Chauvanist Pigs”, about the rise of what she calls “raunch culture.” She spoke to some spring break college girls who giddily lifted their shirts for the Girls Gone Wild crew, asking them why they did it. They answered that it wasn’t so much that they were expressing their sexual freedom — just that they thought that it was the appropriate (and conditioned response).

    I think I know why Pavlov’s dogs were drooling now.

  4. corey

    I’ve never done a cd cover without PS’ing a face or two. *ahem, I mean, except for The Dailies, of course…

    I’m not sure that I want my memories of Christmas morning photoshopped, but when it comes to media materials, I’m all about putting the best face forward. Philosophically, I don’t see Photoshop as much more than a modern extension of women’s makeup or a padded bra. (Before you crucify me, I understand that there are other, more practical and/or functional, reasons for wearing a padded bra.)

    It’s all meant to improve appearance and cover up the snags and sags.

  5. Bill

    We have to remember that just the act of taking a photograph involves making artistic choices. Why not give someone the worst lighting possible? Why not try to find the worst angle to photograph them from? Self-esteem is an important issue to be discussing, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with photoshopping.

  6. aly hawkins

    I agree, Corey and Bill, that Photoshop itself is amoral…but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to suggest that we’ve grown accustomed to a level of “beauty” that doesn’t actually exist in the “real world” because its use (particularly on women) is almost as prevalent as padded bras. Which I think is the video creator’s point: our collective understanding of female beauty has actually been skewed. And speaking of padded bras…I think this same skewing is the reason “bra-burning” was so popular in the 60s-early 70s feminist movement — not because bras are inherently bad, but because have you seen the bras from the 50s?

  7. june

    For the record, I didn’t mean to imply that I think Photoshopping (I can’t believe I have joined the verb club) is bad…I too would like to be at least smoothed out a bit if I was going to appear on the cover of anything.

    To sum up: WCS (What Corey said) and WAS (What Aly Said) ares wat I’s mean.

  8. Sharolyn

    Did anyone else just love Katie Couric for broadcasting that they made her look thinner in ads?? The world needs more people with that kind of security.

  9. Morphea

    Hey, people have been readily (and monetarily) forgiven for shooting men in Reno just to watch them die, so hey, you know?

    [scoots out before getting smacked around by Cash's shade]

  10. corey

    That’s what I think is funny though (and a touch ironic). We watch Dr. 90210 and see YouTube videos like this and many of us actually prefer the “before” version. I’m not sure that we’re being sold any particular version of beauty that is unavailable in the real world. Well, correction, we’re being sold new snake oil. I think of the pains women went through in Victorian times to get strapped into those torso-torturers and it makes me think that there’s nothing new under the sun. This video just shows that man is still (and will always) use whatever technology is at his disposal to give legs to his issues of inadequacy. But, add me to the list. If I had the money at my disposal, there’s a grocery list of things I’d do to “improve” myself.

    **sidenote: For some reason, I feel especially stupid having this conversation. On one hand, I think that trying to come up with some sort of Philosophy-Of-Man’s-Flawed-Existence based on Photoshopping pictures is a bit heady for my mood today. On the flip side, I believe that there’s a glaring social commentary to be made. Maybe I’m just feeling a little out of it today. It’s one of those days where I realize that I’m so tragically effed up to the bone that it’s hard for me to even take my SELF seriously when I try to comment on the flaws in others’ line of thinking.

  11. corey

    I think it’s the weather today. It’s overcast and dreary. Cerise, I dunno how you operate in a climate like this. It makes me wanna play in traffic.

  12. Morphea

    Y’see, Corey, you’ve got it all wrong. You have to want to play in traffic while sipping cocoa, wrapped in a snugly comforter with a purring cat in your lap.

  13. corey

    This weather DOES make me more prone to want to sit with my favorite person by a roaring fire and a fresh episode of Studio 60… But when she’s not around, things are awfully dark. You know, classic dependency issues exacerbated by external stressors.

  14. june

    I’m from Corey’s tribe apparently because the grey weather here combined with hubbins being gone combined with two normal, healthy toddlers (where’s the smiley icon stabbing itself in the eye while grinning that I can insert here?) combined with my all day appearance which has been akin to the before shot of the model above…no wait, that would be a drastic improvement to my appearance today…has left me feeling like if I could Photoshop my entire freaking life, I would!

    Waaa, waaa, waaa.

    Katie makes me crazy. I’m sure she’s a nice person.

  15. michael lee Post author

    Corey, this reminds me of our ongoing conversation about music in the studios – “Sometimes you have to do very unnatural things to get something that sounds natural”

  16. corey

    I’m sensing a trend with the Ollie North references. Do tell. I’ll start. I was in the 8th grade, my favorite band at the time was Europe and they’d just released “Out of This World” with the single “Superstitious” (which is still my favorite guitar solo of all time, by a long shot). The few things I remember from that particular time were 1) the house we lived in that year; 2) the awful school I went to that year; 3) that guitar solo that made me want to play guitar; and 3) “At this time… I do not recall… At this time… I do not recall… At this time… I do not recall… At this time… I do not recall… At this time… I do not recall… At this time… I do not recall…

  17. michael lee Post author

    All I remember from that era was playin the video game “Contras”. It was this cool game where you had two freedom fighters on the screen, and you put a quarter in the slot, and no matter how hard you tried, the money never got to them.

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