This time each year, the regular Eyeopener gets put on the shelf and is taken over by our annual Love and Sex issue.
The responsibility of this massive undertaking falls in the lap of the second- term features editor, and as someone who has been there before, I can attest to the amount of work that is required.
This year, features editor Laura Blenkinsop was the mastermind behind Love and Sex. Along with photo editors Jordan Roberts and Andrew Williamson, she has created a stunning issue with gorgeous visuals.
But there is something I need to make very clear: a generous helping of Photoshop was used in the making of this issue. Models were retouched. In one photo, we even went as far as to slim down one model’s arm and leg.
Photoshopping is nothing new and is even accepted as a regular part of publishing. During a discussion last week in the office about the acceptable amount of Photoshop use, one editor protested that, “no one wants to look at normal people in a magazine.”
But our models are far from normal. True, they are all Ryerson students, but they were also all respondents to a call for models that we placed in the paper. Of those who applied, we chose the best-looking ones.
I believe that magazines, particularly women’s and fashion titles, are responsible for contributing to the skewed perspective of female beauty. No one actually looks like the women featured in those magazines without the help of professional lighting, wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, photographers and digital retouching after the fact. And yet, that unrealistic version of beauty is upheld as the ideal.
While most of us treat those images with a certain amount of healthy skepticism, there are some who take them to heart.
I spent several summers working as a camp counsellor. During my last summer there, I was responsible for the 14-16 year old program. One day during a frank discussion about selfimage, one of my campers, who was a beautiful, healthy 15-year-old, burst into tears and confessed that if only she could lose 20 pounds, her life would be perfect.
I’ve never witnessed anything more horrifying or gut-wrenching. Or experienced the difficulty of convincing a teenage girl who hates herself for being fat that she is actually wonderful and in no way fat. That was the first time I realized how hard it can be to love your body and your looks when you don’t ever see yourself reflected back on the pages of your favourite beauty magazines.
In good conscience, I can’t contribute to that distorted perception of beauty without some kind of disclaimer. What’s the point of power without being able to yield some good?
So here it is: Our pictures have been photoshopped. While attractive, our models have all been digitally nudged towards perfection. No one looks like this in real life.
Unfortunately, the Eyeopener isn’t a dictatorship and I can’t dismiss the prevailing consensus. Photoshopping fit in with the artistic vision for Love and Sex, and so here it is. The issue looks undeniably amazing and I’m proud of the diversity among the models. I am, however, less proud of perpetuating the female beauty myth.