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Pretty Is or Pretty Does?

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I am in a dilemma. All over Facebook, the internet, really everywhere I am bombarded by ads about skin retouching  software. And when I see other photographers who post images of women and in some cases men as well, the amount of retouching is so great that a person’s skin looks plastic. No pores are visible, teeth are ultra white, eyes have no veins. It makes me think of the old movie “The Stepford Wives.” Men had their wives murdered and replaced with women who looked the same, yet were ‘perfect’ in every way including skin, breast enlargements, butt lifts, you name it.

Now with full disclosure I need to say up front that I’m horrible at post production work. My skills with Photoshop are at best menial and below most high school levels. But I wonder why so many people succumb to levels of retouching which makes one appear like a robot? Do women really like to appear false? I understand makeup, Spanx, and other devices, but to like photographs of yourself which make one appear 20 years younger or skin like plastic I just don’t understand. Sure removing a horrible zit that appeared before a photo session is understandable. But my view is capturing the beauty that radiates from within is the real art. And it’s often the moments no one ‘thinks’ they’re being photographed which produces that real beauty. Not the fake “Thanksgiving  Smile” where one says “Cheese!” or some other silly thing.

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I think about my own friends, be they men or women. After a time I no longer look at them just as physical beings. We laugh, we cry, we horse around and in essence we get to know one another as people, as the souls who inhabit our bodies. That’s when the real beauty appears, not parts we were physically born with, nothing earned but simply the combination of our parent’s DNA. So when a photograph reveals our inner beauty, THAT for me is the beauty I wish to capture.

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So my dilemma is this: how many people want plastic skin in a photo? When each of us looks at one of the highly retouched images what do you think or feel? And if we feel it’s fake or contrived, why is it so popular in ads? Is this the beauty we long to have and attain? Or is visual beauty more important than the beauty we have inside? And before anyone says or thinks “That’s what society wants” keep in mind you are society.

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