June 28, 2011

Erasing Your Face

Photo by Nevit Dilmen, Turkey

It occurred to me lately, in a very profound way, that practically everyone we see now in the media is just an illusion.

It's common knowledge that the images we see in fashion magazines and ads etc have for years been altered. With software, like Photoshop, photos can be enhanced or anything that is remotely displeasing to the eye- be it a shadow, a zit, a wrinkle, or a neck that is too thick- can be removed.  If you haven't seen the one minute clip on the process by the Dove Corporation, called The Evolution of Beauty, be sure to watch it when you can. It's really good.

Maybe what is less known is that television and movie cameras have a special lens that make people look younger. The initial technique for this, called "the Barbara Walters softening effect", was just simply vaseline smeared on a camera lens. But later the Tiffen company came out with a camera diffusion lens that exclusively fuzzes just flesh tone parts on a video image to remove wrinkles and soften facial imperfections. The lens was such a breakthrough that Tiffen won a technical Emmy at the Academy Awards for it. I always wondered why TV/movie personalities look so much younger in the studio then when they are taped out in public on the street...I thought it was just the lack of make-up and studio lights.

The latest 'Erase Your Face' technology- that just hit the market- is a camera for common folk, like you and me, by Panasonic called the Lumix DMC-FP7. Now this is really screwed-up...this $230 camera not only erases wrinkles and whitens your teeth, but it can even give you rosier cheeks and lips etc. Check out these photos. I seriously want to move to another planet.

But that's not all...

Hewlett Packard has had cameras on the market for quite sometime that have a "slimming feature" which instantly allow subjects to appear roughly 10 pounds thinner.

Gosh isn't this all crossing the line?

What's the point really?

I ran this by Tom while in the car this weekend and he said, "You know these cameras are perfect for people who need to post a decent picture of themselves on their business website."

I see what he means.

How about all of you out there?

What do you think of all this technology?

Post script 7/1/11 This just in: The American Medical Association condemns altering photos saying that, "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software." Amen. Hallelujah! Thanks to Carole for sending this in.


  1. I don't mind manipulation when it is done for artistic reasons (not for vanity!). Yes, there are many times I cringe when I see my double chin in pics. However, I often wonder, am I cringing because I really find the chins offensive or have I become conditioned to think they are so horrific?

  2. Thanks for sharing the tricks of the trade. It is a shame how obsessed our society has become with youth and appearance. Although I would not mind my husband having contact lenses out of that magic material - kidding!

  3. The only face you can't change is the one inside and it's the only one that really counts!

  4. I agree with Elizabeth. Or rather, I am siding with the "conditioning" part of her comment. I can remember watching "Miami Vice" with a friend of mine years and years ago, and we were both having fits because there was a character--the sexy fox part, no less--who had small, sagging breasts, crooked teeth and was a very dark skinned black woman. All things we just never see in television, let alone portrayed as desirable. We were shocked and thrilled.

    I've read several stories that cite studies noting that we have a tendency to view events and images in media as more real than our actual lives (scary, huh?). I think it's nothing more than conditioning. All these absolutely false images are supposed to represent "real" life and if we do not meet that standard, we are to feel inferior and scramble to meet a non-existant ideal. It's insidious. Eyebrows plucked to "perfection." Skin smooth as glass. Shows featuring low-income workers living in million dollar homes with expensive art. On and on. I swear to god, the last realistic images we had in the media were found on The Roseanne Show. Since then, it's been a full-on assault against reality.

    Pardon that rant. I will shut up now.

  5. I heard about this Photoshop-ish stuff over a decade ago.

    Try this at home. Or on the street. A male or female body will do.

    Or look in the mirror, full view. If you spy a person standing up straight, her full height, you will notice that her navel is pretty darn close to exactly the midpoint of her height.

    For normal people. Michael Phelpps notwithstanding.

    Now open any clothing catalog and look at the models. And use your thumb and index finger to take the top-of-head-to-navel height. Now repeat,but go navel to feet. And what do you notice?

    That either these women are genetic freaks, or the photo editors added about 30% to the length of the models’ legs.

    It helps sell clothes.

  6. I loved being pretty when I was a youngin'...I hadn't yet figured out exactly who I was beyond having good genes, so it bought me some time to learn the nature of humans in general. But I never felt that pleasant, even features and proportions were enough for me to be. And I figured out eventually that young boys (and older boys, including those with grey or missing hair...) are visual beasts. I knew my visuals would change over time. I wanted to be loved for the more permanent aspects of becoming myself. The many privileges afforded me did not go un-noticed. I got out of speeding tickets, men were happier to hoist my heavy luggage into the overhead storage area of the plane and chat me up. But these episodes always seemed a bit silly and highly conditional... not what I wanted in a marriage.

    At 62, I'm still single, but I became a few other things I'm proud of. These things are the type one can't buy or stitch into a body. My good genes and a little primping still affords me a senior kind of cuteness, which is still my preference, and finally, I'm beyond being interested in what others think of me based on how I look.

    Then I learned what it was to be distinctly NOT pretty. There were 16 years smack in the middle of my most ravashing mid-life in which I gained weight from a medication. In those 16 years, I gained 60 lbs. and people treated me differently. People looked through me on the street. I was the invisible former beauty, and it felt bad. We make other people feel bad by our disinterest in anything but their looks.

    There are more than one component to our shameless quest to look 25 and sexy. It goes both ways. We have to see others for what really counts about them. Our cultural snobbery about beauty is something we perpetuate every day, skipping over the more common-looking people in search for the more interesting.

    There's nothing wrong with buying some gigantic boobs, or having your face stretched out like a balloon that's about to pop. And there's no shame in owning a camera that overlooks," flaws." G'head! The truth comes out eventually, and some people will thing your silly no matter what you do.

    The most important thing is to look into the eyes of others and listen. We're no better than anyone else, no matter how many things we have sewn in, pulled tight and photoshopped with makeup. And their no better than we are. It's a wash.

    Just be a conscious being with a big heart and love to give to anyone. It's beautiful forever.

  7. If those pictures were labeled fiction...I'd be OK with it. Perhaps then our youngsters wouldn't feel the need to be perfect and starve themselves or self hate over fiction.
    Give me non-fiction faces any day. The flaws and wrinkles, sags and bulges are true and truth is beauty. Period.

  8. Chris, as a fat woman, I really have to ask that you do not equate "excess" weight with being "distinctly NOT pretty" in a context outside of yourself. Seriously? Is your life experience truly that limited?

    We are overwhelmed with chatter about how awful it is to be fat, how ugly fat women are, etc., all in a quest to sell us more shit. But take a look around. Surely you have noticed fat women in love, fat women being catered to, fat women being adored, pursued, respected, etc.

    I grow weary of the continual reinforcement of a lie. I've gotten out of speeding tickets, had men fall over themselves to help me, had men beg me to leave my husband (oh, yes! We actually marry too! Whodathunkit?), been chosen for jobs over people who were technically more qualified, on and on. I am not an anomaly. I am simply a pretty woman who happens to be fat. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And honestly? After 62 years on this planet, this shouldn't be news to you.

    Here's a good litmus test for bigotry: If you wouldn't make an assumption or say a certain thing about a person of color ("decidely NOT pretty" about, say, a black woman), you should probably refrain from saying it about fat people and take a good hard look at why you have the opinions you do. I'm sorry your experience of weight gain was so traumatic, but please refrain from confusing your personal experience with universal truth and spouting bigoted, misogynist crap as if it is fact.

  9. Dear Frugal- I'm very sorry you got angry about my comment. But truly, don't take anything personally--it had *nothing* to do with you.

    I told *my* story about *my* learning curve. If you read my comment again, you might see that even at my least evolved, I was saying what you're saying. I've always been disgusted that everything's a beauty contest, no matter what standards people may find beautiful.

    There are studies about that you might find interesting. Google "beauty and the golden mean." It's all about a ratio of 1: 1.6 which is found in nature, and is now used in architecture, painting compositions and our faces and bodies. It is the ratio between one's front tooth and the on next to it; and is prevalent in the human face, as well as the spikes of a maple leaf. It's considered beautiful simply because we recognize it from being everywhere in nature.

    Since cavemen have been bonking their loved ones on the head and dragging them to a love cave, physical features represented health, endurance, physical strength and all the other attributes you'd want in a mate if your main problem was defending yourself and your brood from large, hungry animals.

    I hope this helps to sort out my personal story from what you might feel about yourself.

    As I said throughout my comment and as a conclusion, true beauty is being the best of what you are. I'm sure your beauty, as well as many others is something as lovely to behold as who you've become.


  10. http://www.kindovermatter.com/2011/06/spin-your-story-mirror.html
    i love this article about this very thing...

  11. Thank you all for your great comments and insights.

    I think this quote kind of sums up how I feel about this post:

    Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me TRUTH ~Henry David Thoreau

    My oldest daughter put this in her high school year book a few years ago and it rings so true.