Britney Spears is paying her dues, giving fans a glimpse of what her body really looks like.
The 29-year-old pop star has allowed the pre-airbrushed images from a fashion shoot she did for Candie's to be shown adjacent to the digitally-altered ones, so people can see how a little Photoshopping can have a huge impact on how stars look.
Spears' waist, bottom and thighs look noticably slimmer in the retouched photos. Her airbrushed skin bears no bruises or cellulite, and a tattoo has even been erased from her back.
Jessica Simpson recently graced the cover of Marie Claire sans makeup and digital touch-ups to illustrate the similar point that celebrities don't always look like they do in photos.
But not all acts of airbrushing are so honest -- it's rare that the "before" image stands alone or gets released to the public at all.
"The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They're creating things that are physically impossible," said Hany Farid, a Dartmouth College professor of computer science who specializes in digital forensics and photo manipulation. "We're seeing really radical digital plastic surgery. It's moving towards the Barbie doll model of what a woman should look like -- big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck."
Below, four more recent instances of seemingly extreme airbrushing.
Kelly Clarkson has battled weight ups and downs for years, but on the cover of September's SELF magazine, she looked slimmer than ever.
She was photoshopped, and the magazine wasn't afraid to admit it.
"Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images," SELF editor in chief Lucy Danziger told "Entertainment Tonight." "Kelly Clarkson exudes confidence, and is a great role model for women of all sizes and stages of their life. She works out and is strong and healthy, and our picture shows her confidence and beauty. She literally glows from within. That is the feeling we'd all want to have. We love this cover and we love Kelly Clarkson."
In the past, the "American Idol" winner has raved about the photoshop jobs done on her album covers. She still seems comfortable in her own skin, digitally retouched and in real life.
"My happy weight changes," Clarkson says in the September issue of SELF. "Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more. I'll be different sizes all the time. When people talk about my weight, I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem with it; I don't. I'm fine!' I've never felt uncomfortable on the red carpet or anything."
Many Hollywood actresses wax poetic about the importance of a healthy figure; Kate Winslet is one of the few that actually walks the walk. In 2003, she criticized British GQ for whittling her figure on the magazine's January cover, telling Britain's GMTV, "I don't want people to think I was a hypocrite and had suddenly gone and lost 30 pounds, which is something I would never do, and more importantly don't want to look like that. ... They made my legs look quite a bit thinner. They also made me look about 6 feet tall, which I'm not, I'm 5 foot, 6 inches."
Given that, it's surprising another magazine would apparently commit a similar sin. But Winslet graced the December 2008 cover of Vanity Fair looking svelte beyond belief. A photo spread inside the issue features Winslet sprawled atop a fur throw, the small of her back carved out as if it was made of clay.