The Unbearable Lardness of Being

Technology really is so amazing, isn’t it?

Photoshop software is the new Fountain of Youth.

We are told relentlessly by films, magazines, television shows, and advertisements that celebrities are extraordinarily attractive paragons of perfection, impervious to both weight gain and aging. And yet, every now and then someone from behind the scenes throws us a bone, a set of before-and-after pictures that quite takes our breath away. (“Wait, Madonna doesn’t actually look 25 at the age of 53??!”) If it were not for these leaked photos, we would never have guessed that even celebrities can grow old, pack on the pounds, and in general progress through life physically like the rest of us. Sure, they are in general a bit better maintained than the average person, but that doesn’t mean they are actually the way they are shown through the lens of the media.

In a reverse of the norm, the notoriously thin Keira Knightley is given more curves for the promotional poster of the movie "King Arthur".

It’s not just about celebrities being made to be more than they are. It’s about selling a product that does not actually exist, and ironically these celebrities are both the benefactors and the victims of photoshopping. Yes, it helps them sell their image, but one that is counterfeit and, once exposed, worth very little. The true danger is that constant bombardment of such images heightens insensitivity to the truth and lowers our ability to think critically about the world around us. In essence, we are being drugged into thinking that there is only one way to be perfect, and that is to be young and slender. Moreover, we are led to believe that consumption, in all its forms except literally, is the way to get us there.

The development of new ways to trick ourselves into believing in the impossible is really astonishing, to the point that we can no longer distinguish what is real from what is fake. And therein lies the danger, because now we are that much more susceptible to lies. The drive to increase profit margins and continuously sell more has serious and adverse consequences, which the American Medial Association has taken a stand against by denouncing Photoshopped ads as  contributors to “unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image, especially among impressionable children and adolescents”.

These images from the highly controversial Ralph Lauren catalogue are so clearly photo-edited that it's shocking they were published in the first place.

But girls are not the only vulnerable target audience. Men are often digitally enhanced for the sake of fashion covers, fitness magazines, and film promotions. Take the case of Taylor Lautner, one of the celebrated stars of the mindlessly popular Twilight film series, who is widely admired by fangirls for his “hot bod”. Lautner is known to have practiced martial arts for much of his life, so it makes sense that he would indeed have a sculpted physique. However, it is not the sculpted physique that you see in the poster below, because that body belongs to a nameless male model.

Sorry girls, it's not really him...

In light of this evidence, it’s no wonder that the numbers of cosmetic surgery have surged exponentially since the advent of photo editing technology. But in actuality, there is no medical cure for the dreamer’s disease.

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