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               The fight to limit the use of image-altering technology, or at least to acknowledge its use in fine print, is not new to humanists. It was, however, a bold move when Lady Gaga criticized her Photoshopped image on the cover of Glamour magazine while accepting an award from the magazine. Gaga spoke out about the damaging effects of image-enhancement and explained that her own cover photo was airbrushed to have too-perfect skin, too-soft hair, and too thin of a body. While Gaga did not comment on the use of image-enhancement on her album covers, the pop star has taken a huge step in creating awareness to the issue. And with a fan following as large as hers, as well as a name we all know (whether we’d like to or not) Gaga brings forth the issue to the mainstream.

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                Cellulite, a full set of ribs, wrinkles, age spots, peach fuzz, stubble, knee caps and belly rolls are all perfectly normal and healthy attributes, but become demonized and “othered,” to sell products. Bombardment of images with unrealistic proportions and flawless features trains the human eye to view these qualities as normal. Normalizing these images, which cover the pages of our magazines, advertisements, blogs, social media, movie posters, album covers, and are even becoming possible on live television and moving pictures depletes quality of life in that it decreases both self-esteem and life satisfaction. If advertisers can make us hate ourselves enough and for long enough to keep buying their products, in hopes of attaining the unattainable, they are rewarded with an everlasting demand of products. Meanwhile, as the consumers, it’s never enough, because the goal is unreachable, and in trying to achieve manipulated looks or happiness via products, we become distracted, broke, and hungry.

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American citizens view upwards of 10,000 advertisements on a given day. Our youth grows up believing the key to happiness is found in products, because that’s what the advertisements tell us. Drink Bud Lite and girls dancing in bikinis will be laughing with you at the beach! Either be the stud telling great jokes, or dancing bikini gal. More like, drink Bud Lite because it’s cheap or what’s available and you need some assistance having fun in a swimsuit in public, possibly because advertisements are so damn successful with making us feel insecure and “wrong” in our own bodies. With the increasing amount of time kids and young adults, hell, everyone, are spending using technology, and spending time online, advertisements are everywhere. And with that increase, comes the increase in our comfort level with these images. Viewing enhanced images as normal causes us to view ourselves as unusually flawed. Most of us see more scantily-clad strangers in the manipulating media than we do scantily-clad strangers in all their flawed, hairy, dimpled glory. The shock-value threshold for the “sex sells” philosophy is constantly being raised, and prolonged exposure may numb the excitement for our own sexy times. Meanwhile, getting used to images of “flawless” humans makes us hyper-critical not only of ourselves, but of our partners and friends, possibly damaging relationships.

So, I’ll give Gaga props for raising awareness, but I’d like to see her come out with an unedited album cover to put theory into practice.

If you want more, check out Beauty Redefined for their Photoshop Hall of Shame.

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