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What It Was Like For This BBC Reporter To Be Airbrushed

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We know airbrushing is a reality. The models and celebs we see on the covers of our favorite magazines are almost always Photoshopped to achieve the insane level of perfection that has become standard.

While the debate continues (Are we teaching teenage girls to strive for something impossible? Is it right to idolize this kind of beauty? How much airbrushing is too much?), one BBC reporter, Tulip Mazumdar, wanted to know what it felt like to be the one having her imperfections erased virtually.

To start, Mazumdar contacted a fashion photographer and scheduled a a photo shoot for herself. She describes feeling awkward during the shoot, but being pleased with the end results. Then came the airbrushing. Slowly but surely, limbs grew longer and thinner, scars and blemishes disappeared, her eyes widened, her nose became more defined, her lips plumped and pouted. Suddenly her untouched photos looked tired, aged, and chubby.

One could argue that such an extreme retouching is bound to result in a negative body image, but thanks to the magic of smartphones, teens can easily doctor their photos before popping them on Instagram or Facebook.

After reading the article, I’m not sure how I feel. Part of me wants to see a ban on airbrushing in magazines and advertisements. Another part of me recognizes that the retouching is all a part of the glamour and mystique of my favorite mag covers, and that when done in moderation (erasing a blemish here and there or fixing a stray hair), it isn’t a process that will do too much damage.

Although I’d like to see less airbrushing and more variation in body sizes, skin tones, and hair types, I think Mazumdar’s final statement after her retouching ordeal summarizes it pretty well:

"So next time I see that flawless face or those impossibly long legs and think, ‘Why don’t I look like that?,’ I’ll remind myself, that with a bit of help from Photoshop, I actually can. Having seen the result, it’s not a look I’ll be revisiting any time soon."

Read Tulip’s article here and tell us what you think. Should we ban airbrushing for good? Would you ever want to see yourself retouched?

—Ashley

For some incredible non-retouched photos, check out Tyra Banks transformation into other models.

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