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Blurred Lines

2014 August 18

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A couple of weeks ago, a fashion blogger wrote a post called “Photos I Wish I Didn’t Photoshop.”  I’d never read or heard of her blog, Do the Hotpants, before, but I heard about her confession on Twitter and decided to investigate.

I read a lot of fashion blogs and one of my favorite mindless activities is to scroll through them to get outfit inspiration or hair ideas. But whether it’s on Tumblr, Pinterest, or my RSS feed, the constant stream of beautiful, thin women in stylish clothes more often than not just ends up making me feel worse about myself.

I guess I was naive to think that Photoshopping was only for the glossy fashion magazines, but it turns out that many fashion bloggers are using Photoshop to mask blemishes, flatten stomachs, and blur out any other imperfections they see with themselves. Now that I think about it, of course the revelation is not a shock. These women are real people and face insecurities just like anyone else, and many of them have an audience of thousands, scrutinizing what they are wearing and how they look from every angle. I realize that fashion blogging is very much a choice, but I can also appreciate the vulnerability of putting photos of yourself up on the Internet every day.

But when I first read the headline about a blogger admitting to Photoshopping her body, I was a little angry. I felt the tiniest bit betrayed. I was feeling bad about my own body, how certain dresses don’t fit anymore, or the way I don’t wear certain skirts as often as I used to because they’re more uncomfortable than I would like. And adding to that insecurity was the feeling of inadequacy when I looked at all of those fashion bloggers in my social media feeds. Again, I was making the choice to look at these blogs, and I was making the choice to allow those bodies to make me feel badly about my own. But the Photoshopping made it all seem even more artificial and dishonest than it already did.

I know many bloggers get clothing for free. I’m also aware that many of them don’t need to work because of the obscene amounts of money they make from using their blogs for advertising. More power to them. But I don’t like the idea of altering your body into something even more idealized than it already is.

When I read the Do the Hotpants post and a subsequent interview about her choice to come clean, I respected the blogger for her honesty. Looking at the photos, it’s clear that this woman is struggling with her own insecurities. I mean, when I look at these photos, I see NO REASON to alter them in any way, but I’m not looking at them through her eyes. Rather than doing it for deception or dishonesty, I think most bloggers are using Photoshop as a way to deal with their own fears of how they look–as crazy as it may seem to many of us mere mortals who aren’t 5’10”, 105 lbs. with a perfect tan, 5 Louis Vuitton bags, 10 pairs of Louboutins, and a closet that would make Carrie Bradshaw envious.

What do you think? Do you read fashion blogs? Does it surprise you that some bloggers use Photoshop to change their appearance? Does it bother  you?

2 Responses Post a comment
  1. August 18, 2014

    I’m with you–I didn’t really think about fashion blogs using Photoshop, and hearing about it probably shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but it does make me a little sad. They can do whatever they want, but one reason I appreciate fashion blogs is to see what outfits look like on real people, not Photoshopped models. (Sometimes I’ll see a dress that I like and Google image search for real people wearing that dress so I can see how it falls.) And I’m sure I wouldn’t even notice some of the ‘flaws’ these bloggers are worried about. I totally get feeling insecure, but more power to those who are willing to embrace fashion, ‘flaws’ and all.

  2. August 18, 2014

    This shouldn’t be shocking–but totally is. And it really bums me out! There’s such an absence of images of “real bodies” in our media, which of course creates the pressure for fashion bloggers to photoshop their own images, which adds to the absence of “real bodies.” It’s a vicious cycle!

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and writing about body image lately, so I really appreciate this post. I don’t know that I blame individuals for trying to succeed within a flawed system, but I certainly appreciate those voices who are able to stand up and point out the problem and act differently.

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