The ugly truth about celebrity Photoshop


Cindy Crawford’s recent unretouched ‘leaked’ photo has caused quite a stir online over the last week or so, but for once, it was for the right reasons.

Crawford didn’t actually release the picture herself, nor did she withhold it. It actually dates from 2013; news anchor Charlene White found it on a fashion blog, tweeted it, and now most of us have seen it. Imperfect photos have fuelled the gossip industry for years, so it’s really quite nice that this photo went viral with so much supportive comment.

It’s definitely positive to have an open discussion about how bodily ‘flaws’ are perceived as such, and how airbrushing, cropping and retouching can only serve to further skew our perception of perfection. I’ve been mulling over those who don't really ‘do’ Photoshop, or, at least, have been vocal about it of late…

Kiera Knightley has long fought against images of her being retouched without her permission; back in 2004, she expressed serious displeasure after her breasts were digitally enhanced for the King Arthur movie poster. More recently, she did a topless shoot with Patrick Demarchelier for Interview magazine under the strict clause that the photos would remain unaltered.

In the accompanying interview, she stated: ‘I've had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons. Women's bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame… it becomes more difficult to see all of those different varieties of shape’.

Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars fame also hit out in this Instagram post against a promo picture of herself and her co-stars: ‘we all look ridiculous. Way too much photoshop. We all have flaws. No one looks like this. It's not attractive’. It was quite brave of her to publicly rail against imagery from the show she works on – and why wouldn’t she? The picture in question is scarily unrealistic.

It’s been almost two years since Debenhams announced that they had ‘a moral obligation to ban the airbrush’, and pledged to ban retouching on all of their lingerie model shots. The same brand has experimented with using mannequins of all sizes in their stores as part of a commitment to encouraging a more positive, inclusive message to their consumers rather than ‘crushing their self-esteem by making false comparisons’.

There’s a lesson in this for all of us. How many times have you said ‘excuse the lack of make-up’, or ‘I look gross today, I have no tan on’? It’s time for a reality check. Are we all supposed to be airbrushed in real life? Of course not, and life would be so boring.

Good grooming is one thing, but more often than not, there’s no real reason for us to explain or apologise for our appearance. What’s truly at fault here is a Trojan standard of beauty; it’s false, it’s virtually unachievable and, as illustrated above, it’s best ignored!

Deirdre Foley is a history grad, sceptic, wearer of red lipstick and self-confessed 'beauty maniac'. She is also the co-founder of fabulous Irish beauty blog, Viva Adonis.