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Air-brushing for Beauty

Many girls or women with eating problems look enviously at a model or celebrity photo in a magazine and say, “Wow, I’d love to look like her!” What you may not realize is that even she doesn’t look like her image because of a technique called air-brushing. After having received a link to information about it, I knew I had to pass it on to all of you.

The link,, explains the technique, including why and how it’s used. “Airbrushing is…an artistic technique that relies on a special tool called an airbrush…utilized to spray different forms of media like dyes, paints or inks; this compressed air tool uses a procedure that is referred to as nebulization…the conversion of any sample that is vaporized into some atomic components. The problem…stems from the media’s constant overuse of it [airbrushing], especially on the images of famous women such as actresses, singers and models.”

Get the picture? Airbrushing means that you never really know if the image you’re looking at in a magazine looks like the person. It’s one thing to recognize that airbrushing is common and that celebrity faces and forms are often modified to give you an altered image. It’s quite another to view the image and think that the celebrity actually looks that way. In the first instance, knowing about air-brushing, you think, “Well, I’d look pretty good too if someone eliminated my physical flaws.” In the second instance, you think, “Isn’t she perfect. I wish I could look like that,” and are bummed about your own beauty “inadequacies.”

This situation calls to mind the cheating scandal involving TV’s The $64 Million Dollar Question, when contestants, unbeknown to the audience, were being fed correct answers in advance by the show’s sponsor, Revlon. Here was an audience marveling at contestants’ brilliance—and maybe measuring their own meager intelligence against them—when, in reality, contestants’ answers came from cheating. When news of the scandal broke, people ran the gamut from disbelief to rage, and who could blame them.

We should be just as up in arms about the overuse of airbrushing, but aside from Feminists and professionals working in the eating disorder/body image field, the public seems oddly ho-hum about such photographic malfeasance. So, next time you look at a magazine photo, instead of envy, grab your righteous anger and indignation at how the media and big business are trying to dupe you into feeling badly about yourself to buy their products. Use your critical thinking skills to see what’s really going on.