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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Fashion magazine stumbles in the wake of Photoshop-free policies

The new magazine Verily is pushing the borders of what we can expect of the portrayal of women in media. Verily has pledged to never alter the body or face structure of their models using Photoshop. At first glance this policy seems commendable, but further probing reveals the no-Photoshop policy to be hypocritical and demeaning to women.

Verily’s mandate reads, “Whereas other magazines artificially alter images in Photoshop to achieve the so-called ideal body type or leave a maximum of three wrinkles, Verily never alters the body or face structure of the Verily models.” That’s right, Verily doesn’t stand for women altering themselves to achieve an ideal look — well, unless the altering is done through the use of makeup, hair products, and trendy clothing.

If a magazine is about celebrating women’s natural beauty, don’t contain an article which relates which makeup to wear to get “flawless matte skin.” Don’t write an article about which swimsuits will make women’s bodies look better. And if it’s not okay to alter a woman’s body with Photoshop, don’t alter her face with makeup. Don’t instate a policy about embracing women’s natural beauty in a magazine whose main article topics are how to fit into a predetermined idea of beauty.

This dichotomy between Verily’s so-called founding principle and its actual subject matter reveals the no-Photoshop policy to be a ploy to attract women to yet another magazine which tells them how they should look and dress. Verily’s pledge not to use Photoshop on its models rings hollow because the very basis of fashion magazines is that women should not embrace their natural beauty, but that they should buy certain clothes and wear certain makeup so they will fall into society’s picture of feminine beauty.

According to environmental science sophomore Christine Vo, Photoshopped models are one of the appeals of fashion magazines. “If they didn’t appear perfect, then who would buy the magazines?” she said.

Ruling out personal bias, many Photoshopped models are simply aesthetically pleasing; perfect facial symmetry and flawless skin are just naturally aesthetically beautiful. Furthermore, clothes, which the magazines are trying to sell, look better on an elongated figure. Designers want to exhibit their clothes on tall, flawless models, and to a large extent, this is what nature drives viewers to want to see.

There is, however, a market for a magazine which truly does embrace women’s beauty. Vo says she would feel more comfortable if Photoshop wasn’t used on models.

Pre-business freshman Katie Boerke said, “I don’t read any fashion magazines because I feel the clothes in them aren’t realistic. I would never wear them.”

Boerke also feels that the use of Photoshop on models “creates this image that is literally impossible to achieve and makes women more insecure about themselves.”

Unfortunately, it is impossible for a message of embracing natural beauty to truly be portrayed by a fashion magazine. Fashion magazines don’t paint a realistic picture of women, either in looks or lifestyle, and even when altering models through Photoshop is taken out of the equation, there is still a pervading message that a woman’s natural state isn’t good enough and she needs to change. This, however, is simply a characteristic of the genre. So if you’re looking for a magazine that truly shows off the beauty that is woman, ditch the fashion magazines, and go pick up a copy of National Geographic.

Opinion columnist Emily Johnson is an English literature freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


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