Representation, Reporting & The Stories We Tell 345-LPH-MS
November 14, 2019
With the impressive development of technology over the past few decades, the media’s role in our lives has increased tremendously. Consequently, it is known that several people take advantage of the power of technology to modify the way they appear to ensure the public’s interest and satisfaction with what they are putting out. Although many people complain about the negative effects that modifying images have on both men and women’s perception of reality, in 2015, Beyoncé Knowles fans were outraged when a fan site called Beyoncé’s World released leaked images of the singer’s L’Oréal Paris beauty campaign before they had been photoshopped. These images revealed the icon’s true imperfections which upset her supporters. Photoshop changed the history of digital photography and become a very controversial moral dilemma that affects most of the world. Considering all the problems that arose due to the controversial ads and images published by many companies that have edited their images, it is clear that photoshop is not an ethical way of ensuring that the public will enjoy what is being put out. People prefer perfection and would rather not know the reality of things, which makes people forget the natural beauty of things.
Photoshop has been around for almost 30 years and yet everybody knows of at least one scandal caused by images that have been edited before being exposed to the public eye. This tool has the ability to alter anything to satisfy the viewer. The intentions of an edited image come from what it will be used for. If an image is used for art then there is no issue with altering it but if it is used for the cover of a magazine or an ad then it is simply unethical. The reasoning behind the fact that it is unethical is caused by the alteration of original work. The change in people’s expectations for beauty and perfection are one of the most significant consequences. The main goal behind photoshopping images is to make things more appealing in order for people to buy the product or to envy the “perfect” model. The perfect version of reality has created a “[...] false sense of reality and expectations that people come to expect of themselves” (Karina). In other words, women are expected to have hourglass figures and no facial imperfections and men are expected to always be represented in a very manly way with assertive figures and brawn physiques (The man box). “As a result of photoshopping images insecurity is caused and people are made to think they want to look like the girl in the magazine when in reality, the girl in the magazine doesn’t look like the girl in the magazine. They look totally different in real life” (Megbeaz). This false advertising creates a sense of envy and insecurity for all people who do not resemble the “expected” body type. According to the ethical framework of utilitarianism it is unethical to falsely advertise things to incite customers to buy because money is not considered a summum bonum. In brief, photoshop is an important moral dilemma related to the media due to its large influence on our society on obtaining the perfection that is for the most part unattainable.
The Beyoncé L’Oréal campaign in 2015 was a scandal that was not similar to any photoshop scandals that arose in the past. Usually, the public critiques photo editors for portraying an altered version of reality but this case was contradictory. When Beyoncé’s World posted the images onto their website, the Beyhive (Beyoncé’s fans) was outraged that her true face had been exposed to the public in that way. “[...] we’d much prefer manipulations of reality to reality itself” (Dewey), people might prefer the edited version of reality to keep them dreaming and give them meaning to why they put their idols on such a high pedestal. Beyoncé Knowles, also known as Queen Bey, is known for being an iconic celebrity due do her perfect face, body, life, vocal abilities, etc. The publishers of the images “[...] were just posting the photos to share the fact that our queen is naturally beautiful, at the same time she is just a regular woman” (Reid). Their intentions were to show the world that Queen Bey also has flaws because she is a human just like the rest of us but her fans did not appreciate that. Thus, photoshop is an important moral dilemma related to the media due to how it has completely changed millions of people’s views on life. It has made them blind to the fact that every person that we idolize is also human with their own perfect imperfections like the rest of us.
To conclude, photoshop is an important moral dilemma due to the effects that it has caused on our society. The power of editing images has created a false reality with false expectations that people obsessively expect of themselves. This false advertising causes men and women to live life with constant insecurities concerning their appearances. It has also blinded people’s view on life and how things should be since some prefer seeing the perfect version instead of the natural and untouched version. This perfect reality gives meaning behind the drastic measures people take to obtain it. Not all edited images are unethical due to the intentions of the editor.
Dewey, Caitlin. “How 25 Years of Photoshop Changed the Way We See Reality.” The
Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Apr. 2019
Karina. “The Ethical Dilemma of Using Photoshop.” Visual Media, World Press, 24 Feb.
Megbeaz. “Does Photoshop Make You Insecure about Yourself?” Does Photoshop Make You
Insecure about Yourself?, 17 Mar. 2015.
Reid, Tashauna. “Unretouched Photos of Beyoncé's L'Oreal Ad Leak Online, Cause Fan
Furor | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 19 Feb. 2015.