Edit This Fashion Magazines

By Michelle Golden

Posted on 12th February 2010

It’s no surprise that magazines, advertisers, and marketers use the “art” of airbrushing photographs to alter what reality looks like and to convey a certain type of image. Covers of magazines show flawless actors, actresses, singers, and models. We’re all aware of this as consumers. We know these models don’t really look the way they are portrayed on the glossy pages, but for some reason we’re okay with it. We still go ahead and buy the products being advertised or the clothes being modeled. Then we get upset when the bathroom cabinet piles up with a collection of face washes that never really worked, cover –ups that advertise miracles and provide none and mascara that claims to never clump and does so after the first use. Still surprised that Vanessa Hudgens appears to have no zits as she advertises for Neutrogena’s skin clearing cleansers? Don’t be. Two words: Adobe Photoshop.

Recently there has been a lot of talk in the media world concerning the evils of airbrushing, a photo editing technique that is used in the mentioned and infamous Adobe Photoshop, providing a means of shaving off any imperfection. The messages behind many advertisements have been increasingly misleading.

The question major companies have been faced with is when have we taken airbrushing too far?

On September 29 an advertisement that appeared only in Japan, by fashion clothing line Ralph Lauren, featured model Filippa Hamilton who appeared to have a waist smaller than her actual head. Airbrushing images already illustrates an unnatural appearance, but as viewers, we still accept it, because although the models look perfect, oddly enough, we still think this beauty is realistic. However, Ralph Lauren, in this advertisement, showed the world exactly how distorted some perceptions of beauty can be. Looking at the ad and of this poor model whose body was obviously not accepted for what it was, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. She doesn’t even look simply skinny. She looks sick.” After reading follow-up articles, I was astonished and rather revolted at the fact that Ralph Lauren actually had fired this model just a few months before they used her image for the advertisement. Hamilton, who had worked with Ralph Lauren since 2002, said in a New York Daily News article, published October 14, that she was fired because she weighed too much and could no longer fit in the company’s clothes.  Yet, Ralph Lauren still used her face and her body… well, only a sliver. The rest was edited away.

Promoting an unrealistic body image hurts the average teenager in more ways than just one. Do we really want to further encourage eating disorders or other unhealthy lifestyles? No. So how can we, as the voices of the next few generations, and the new faces in the social media world, alter this distorted so-called-ideal perception of beauty? How can we bring the natural back in beautiful?

One of the causes sponsored by JChoice inspires teens to look beyond appearance. The Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA) offers programs to guide teens to make healthy choices that will positively influence their self-esteem individually and those around them. Since food plays such a huge role in our society, family, and different cultures, eating disorders is a horrible aspect of reality that is coupled with the concept of food. Specifically among Jewish preteens and teens, eating disorders have been a prevalent concern. As mentioned on the JChoice website, a study conducted by the Jewish Women International site, has found that three in four Jewish girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen, have engaged in unhealthy eating and weight lifestyles. The mission of MEDA is to reach out to these preteens and teens in Jewish communities and to continuously raise awareness. MEDA reaches out to their targeted communities by creating different projects to remind our youth the importance of staying healthy and loving one’s body. One example of such a project is where interested members design a mirror with affirmations. These mirrors are then delivered to young teens that have been hospitalized for their eating disorders. In my opinion, such a project really emphasizes on the importance of loving the body you’re in. It encourages the power of the mirror as a reflection of one’s self and how essential it is to treat it with the utmost care, because, the body is probably one of the more fragile things in life.

What makes MEDA different from perhaps other health-related organizations is that the actual organization itself is comprised of six members who have recovered from an eating disorder. By being able to relate on such a personal level, these members can truly engage in helping both Jewish and Non-Jewish teens from many different communities recover from the dangers of eating disorders. MEDA partners with other eating disorder treatment facilities nationally. Founded by Rebecca Manley in 1994, MEDA was envisioned upon the idea that it would act as a safe haven for those individuals struggling with an eating disorder and a place where family members and friends of such patients can learn more about the illness and how to support their loved ones.

Overall the most important part of MEDA’s mission is prevention. Through educational presentations, workshops, and speakers, MEDA reaches out to many diverse audiences to explain the causes of the illness and the emotional and physical effects. Together with organizations such as MEDA, we can work towards editing away eating disorders from society and providing a new, healthy model and face for all those magazines creating their own false and dangerous idea of beauty. Together recovery IS possible. So magazines out there: be sure to edit this into the fine print under your next airbrushed victim.


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