The recent years have seen a surge of change in many issues pertaining women; one of them is that of photoshop. With many women in the public eye coming out and speaking against airbrush, the debate about what is real vs what is not has been launched, and relaunched, full force. On Tuesday, British singer Stacey Solomon warned against such photo editing by posting a split image of herself from a recent magazine shoot she did on the dangers of editing out flaws - she juxtaposed the original picture with the touched up one. Airbrushing is 'scary' and 'dangerous,' Stacey wrote. Her images seem to have hit home with many, especially young women who have long struggled with the pressures of looking a certain way and being a particular size. Stacey Solomon has received much support on social media, with her followers lauding her courage to post pictures of her real self, just as she is.
Stacey wrote in her post: "This is how scary airbrushing can be... just remember when you're looking at someone's post or in a mag or poster you might not be looking at real life images! I'm so proud of the interview and shoot I did with@celebritysecretsmag highlighting how dangerous this kind of body morphing is and why all bodies should I'll be celebrated no matter what shape or size! I look better UNairbrushed in my opinion and love my natural lumps and bumps! If you want to see real women and read about not putting pressure on yourself this year pick up a copy of @ok_mag bumper pack and read celeb secrets mag! Love yourself because you're perfect."
Stacey Solomon's stand against airbrushing is representative of a much larger issue. Women and young girls world over feel the pressure to attain and remain a certain size because of the idea that is fed into their heads by such images. The women they look upto and idolise are all made to look a certain way on social media and magazines, no matter how they look in real life. This leads to women and girls adopting any method they think is easiest to lose weight. Most of the times, these methods are far from healthy. The idea of beauty keeps changing. Curly hair, thick thighs, curves, even some acne here and there - yes, I'm describing the ideal heroine of the 80s and early 90s. Many of us were lucky enough to be born in an era when the idea of the perfect body was not just being skinny and fair. An era when the likes of Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi and Kajol, with their thick curly locks and perfectly imperfect bodies, were able to serve as role models for millions. Kajol, for instance, refused to subject herself to threading, owning the unibrow.
Perhaps that is an idealistic explanation given the times we live in today. The women who chose to be in the public eye two or three or four decades ago were perhaps not subject to as much scrutiny as the women who chose to be public figures more recently. Or perhaps the way they looked was overshadowed by their sheer talent. But skinny has been 'in' for a while now and the fierce advent and take over of social media over the lives of millenials (and their parents) is partly instrumental in bringing about this change. Don't get me wrong, social media has done plenty of good. People are more aware about health and fitness (amongst other things) than they ever were before thanks to all these fitness moguls and their ardently followed pages on Instagram. Somehow, though, many have mistaken fitness for simply being thin.
With the paparazzi and self-acclaimed critics on social media always looking for an opportunity to point out a thigh bulge here and some cellulite there, actresses and artists today seem to have signed up for more than just what they are paid for. From Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who was criticized brutally when she walked the red-carpet at Cannes soon after having her daughter with the pregnancy weight still on her to Sonam Kapoor who a few years ago very publicly claimed through a blog post that she engaged in a "series of unhealthy behaviours" to lose weight, few have spared themselves the guilt of having a roll of fat on their back or a jiggle in their arms. It's no wonder that Kareena Kapoor Khan worked hard to get rid of that postpartum weight. The pressure to look a certain way today is immense.
So who created this illusion that the perfect body has to be thin, impeccably toned, free of cellulite and scars? Who fostered the propaganda about the ideal body needing to be a certain size? While the answer cannot be a definite one, the ambiguous one can point to social media, magazines and above all, photoshop and airbrush.
With every second article on social media talking about the easiest way to lose weight, and every star interview carrying their diet plan and their tips on how best to lose weight, social media has only promoted the idea that thin is the way to be. Magazines photoshop images to remove scars, bruises, cellulite and anything else that doesn't fit into their idea of perfect without a thought - as if it has become second nature.
Times do seem to be changing, though. There have been other women along with Stacey Solomon who have confronted this issue as well. Amongst them is Jennifer Lawrence who has spoken about the idea of a healthy body over a an unhealthily thin one many times.
Speaking to BBC during an interview, Lawrence said, "When we were doing the first The Hunger Games, it was a big discussion, 'cause it's called The Hunger Games - she's from District 12, she's obviously underfed, so she would be incredibly thin. But, I just kept saying, we have the ability to control this image that young girls are going to be seeing. Girls see enough of this body that we can't imitate, that we'll never be able to obtain, these unrealistic expectations, and this is gonna be their hero, and we have control over that."
Lawrence was involved in a photoshop controversy back in 2011. J.Law, as she is popularly called, had been slimmed down and given protruding collarbones and more prominent cheekbones on a magazine cover. Later, the actual image from the magazine shoot appeared on the internet. Speaking with the Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer, Jennifer explained the issue, saying, "The world has this idea that you have to look like an airbrushed perfect model. You have to see past it. You look how you look, you have to be comfortable. What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb."
Kim Kardashian has been another one who has been involved in photoshop controversies. Kim K has posted many pictures of her seemingly perfect body. After un-airbrushed bikini pictures of her emerged from her holiday in Mexico, she lost more than 100,000 Instagram followers. Fans were enraged that she had been editing her pictures.
While many have been speaking against photoshop, there are those who continue to heavily edit images to look a certain way. Here's hoping this is one of the conversations amongst many in 2018.