Culture

Making Pretty Little Liars out of all us, Cast talks photoshop use in GQ spread

In 2013 and more-so in 2014, there have been more and more rumblings about the use of photoshop in magazine-shoots and print-ads. Taking already pretty people and making them “even prettier” has become sort of a double-edged sword at this point in our culture.
 
On one hand you have to establish a basis for what you think fits under artistic expression; using shadows, light, make-up, forced perspective and composition has been used to create photos for years, and few groups have publicly denounced the practice. Even when these ‘tricks’ were used to make people look healthier, stronger, skinnier or more voluptuous in the past, never have have these practices been under fire like Photoshop has been recently, even though it’s a practice as old as photos themselves.
 
One thing we should point out, is that when people say Photoshop, they mean altering a picture digitally (often done in Adobe’s Photoshop) but Adobe really shouldn’t have their product pulled through the mud to strike down the practice of altering stars and starlets for consumer goods. If you want to complain about Photoshop itself, you can start with the price, like the rest of us.
 
So what is ok, and what is shameful? We use lighting in film to invoke feelings all the time, we use make-up in film and television to alter appearances, we capture people’s best sides when we shoot our friends, we film stars to look beautiful, sexy or strong every single day, it’s kind of complicated to just point a finger at just one industry.
 
We love the movies the films that cutout the best takes in cinema and edit them together to make a movie, we ourselves choose our favorite pictures on social-media (out of multiples when taking pictures of our cats or children) and more times than not, if you take a picture of a girlfriend from far enough away, one-hand goes to her hip as she turns slightly to the side, straightens one leg and ends with a big smile for the picture. We like to put our best face forward, and companies like to put the best faces of others forward, when we are paying them to sell something.
 
That being said, when stars get thinner or more curvy, from photoshoot to photospread, it definitely angers some of us.
 
The latest hiccup to the trend happened this week, when the Pretty Little Liars’ cast hit GQ for a poolside spread to promote the return of the show’s summer season. Almost all of the pictures were altered, not just for enhancement, but the bodies of the young girls were altered as well.
 
Troian Bellisario, a star that has publicly suffered from eating disorders and body-image issues in the past, was the first to speak on the subject. She told fans, “So by now you have seen many a shot from #GQ and many people have said that we were photoshopped… OF COURSE WE WERE! that’s a very specific type of photo shoot. And looking very blown out and perfected was obviously what they were looking for. Great. Cool.”
 
She continued, “As long as we acknowledge how it was achieved so we know it’s not real. Here’s some behind the scenes of my body the way it is and was on the day. I’m not mad at how these pictures turned out, the girls and I had an absolute blast. More fun than we’ve had on a photoshoot in a while, and I think you can see that in our eyes and smiles.”
 
Is that really all that people need to be ok with the practice? It’s a logical conclusion, and I think a lot of people feel that way about magazines and ads altering figures. It’s not real, and you should know that.
 
Bellisario told fans, “it’s the same everywhere. It’s the same way on the posters of our show and even in women’s magazines. This industry seems to invest more in perfection than in flaw. But flaw and individuality, to me, are what make a human being interesting, they make our stories worth telling. (Unfortunately the flaws don’t usually sell products or magazines) I’m proud of my body and the way it looks because @themarkwildman kicks my butt in aerial. But my hips and thighs are a part of me (even though they magically weren’t in some shots!) I get those things from my momma. And I’m happy To shake what my momma gave me.”
 

 
Overall the idea that the stars need to be changed at all, and that it is somehow more appropriate for selling shows or movies, is the real problem. Personally, I think that altering images is a common practice, one that will never change. What will change is what gets altered.
 
We know from our own history of classic paintings, and early photography and advertising, that the “ideal” form for women and men, changes overtime and from nation to nation. It’s never a fixture, but having an “ideal” for both sexes within a culture, seems to be a fixture in itself.
 
The more people I talk to about the matter when it comes up from time to time, the more I hear the same argument. It usually involves something along the lines of ‘some people don’t know it’s fake and it makes people feel insecure.’ It’s the idea that although “we” know it isn’t real, there exists people in our culture that aren’t as clever or intelligent, or as educated, as we are and we need to protect them from it.
 
It’s a very odd mixture between, ‘wanting to help others’ but still keeping an ‘aloof and superior’ attitude about the whole thing. Although it’s terrible when broken down, I truly think many people feel this way and they don’t mean to come across as condescending as they sound. The truth is I think younger people are more in practice with altering digital pictures than their parents, or uncles or aunts. We constantly want to save children from the hardships that the world offers, and we always should.
 
Going into the future, all of this stems from the idea that sexes have to look a certain way to be attractive, healthy, strong or desirable. I think arguing from photoshoot to photoshoot is a distraction to many people’s already ongoing effort to change the standards of cultures around the world. If you hate the practice, the terrible standards, and would like to promote a more realistic depiction of men and women you should help them, they are already working hard and could always use another voice. If you succeed, our entertainment media will still alter photographs, but you may like the end result a lot more.

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