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The body beautiful?

Recently, some co-workers were discussing the use of photo-shopped or manipulated images.  And with the increase in social media and society’s insatiable appetite for selfies, it’s not just graphic artists in major ad agencies using them.  Apparently, average folk are now photo-shopping their personal postings too.

Hollywood has always revered the beauty ideal.  It’s only in recent years that so much perfection has been questioned and even condemned for its social irresponsibility.  And photo-shopping manipulates an image further for size, colour, and any perceived imperfections.  Frankly, it gives an unrealistic view of the world and its inhabitants.

Consequently, every few months a celebrity rails against her picture-perfect photo-shopped magazine cover with righteous indignation.  Then the public rallies around claiming we’re all beautiful just as we are.

So we’re in agreement.  Photo-shopping is wrong because it messes with reality.  But then, what’s real?

I discovered my first grey hair at twenty-seven and promptly yanked it out.  (It was 3 inches long, wiry, and stood upright at the top of my head. I looked like The Little Rascals’ Alfalfa.)  After that, my use of L’Oreal took on a new level of dedication.

My eyelashes are so fine they’re almost invisible.  So I always wear mascara.  And because of my Swedish ancestry, I am naturally very pale.  Subsequently, I was once told I looked “like the dead” during a camera test because I wasn’t wearing TV make-up.

For many women, hair dye and make-up are their personal “photo-shop” tools.  Then there are high heels to make legs appear longer and rears more shapely.  And don’t get me started on the power of Spanx.

However, the argument my co-workers raised is that photo-shopping makes no sense because those images no longer reflect how we look in real life.  But that changes daily too.

We’re constantly adjusting others’ perception of us with our clothes.  If I wear the wrong outfit on television, I get very helpful emails or calls telling me why I should burn it.  “It made your hips look big.”  (They already are.)  “It made your butt stick out.”  (It already does.)

And I’m forever being told that I’m much taller in real life than I look on television.  Well, since your TV isn’t likely more than two or three feet high, yes, I’m quite positive that I look smaller in your living room than in real life.

However, with the new HD televisions and the continued existence of non-HD channels, I’m sometimes stretched wider than I am in real life.  So now your TV is also manipulating my image with its “widescreen” format.  (Thanks. I needed that extra ten pounds.)

Obviously photo-shopping shouldn’t be used to mislead retail consumers.  And natural beauty should be celebrated, not “corrected.”  But since my image isn’t splashed around the globe on magazine covers, movie screens, major television networks or social media for others to judge – and they will – I’m not going to condemn other people’s personal photo manipulations.

Except for Snapchat filters.  Those are just weird.