VICE – PHOTO REAL: ON PHOTOSHOP, FEMINISM, AND TRUTH

Two weeks ago, Jezebel published un-retouched outtakes of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign.

Without Photoshop, Gaga’s wig was more wig-like, her makeup flat beige, but she was the same skinny, strong-nosed chameleon that Stephani Germanotta has always been. The outtakes were not interesting but showing celebrities without Photoshop is Jezebel’s brand.

Jezebel exploded in popularity in 2007 by offering a $10,000 bounty for originals of Faith Hill’s Redbook cover. The raw photos proved the magazine had liquefied the star’s waist, softened her nasiolabial folds, and brutalized her elbow into a bendy tube. This January, with more controversy, Jezebel paid another $10,000 for the originals of Lena Dunham’sVogue cover shoot. Those revealed only a tidied dress.

Jezebel’s is a feminism that seeks its scapegoat in altered images. To refrain from Photoshop is girl-positive marketing gold. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty delights itself by putting out fake filters that chide retouchers. Magazines sign “No Photoshop” pledges. Clothing companies crow that they’ve never taken a clone-stamp to their models’ thighs.

To these feminists, Photoshop is to blame to unrealistic body standards, poor self-esteem, and anorexia in teenage girls. The campaign against Photoshop is the perfect cause for white, middle-class women whose primary problem is feeling their bodies do not match an increasingly surreal media ideal.

Photoshop, the belief goes, takes a true record of a moment, and turns it into an oppressive lie.

But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.

Molly Crabapple for VICE, Photo Real: On Photoshop, Feminism and Truth

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    About Molly:

    Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer in New York. Her memoir, Drawing Blood, was published by HarperCollins in 2015. Brothers of the Gun, her illustrated collaboration with Syrian war journalist Marwan Hisham, will be published by One World/Penguin Random House in May 2018. Her reportage has been published in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, VICE, and elsewhere. She has been the recipient of a Yale Poynter Fellowship, a Front Page Award, and a Gold Rush Award, and shortlisted for a Frontline Print Journalism Award. She is often asked to discuss her work chronicling the conflicts of the 21st Century, and has appeared on All In with Chris Hayes, Amanpour, NPR, BBC News, PRI, and more. The New Yorker described her 2017 mural "The Bore of Babylon" as "a terrifying amalgam of Hieronymus Bosch, Honoré Daumier, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Her art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Rubin Museum of Art and the New York Historical Society.

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