British actor and feminist activist Jameela Jamil recently penned a powerful op-ed on the damaging effects attached to photoshopping and why she feels it should be banned.
"The Good Place" star labeled the photo altering tool as a "disgusting tool that has been weaponised, predominantly against women, and is responsible for so many more problems than we realise because we are blinded by the media, our culture and our society" in her piece for the BBC.
Jamil says the practice sends a harmful message to women and should be eliminated in magazines in order to showcase more representation and realism in the media.
"It is anti-feminist. It is ageist. It is fat-phobic. It looks weird. It looks wrong. It's robbing you of your time, money, comfort, integrity and self worth," the 32-year-old wrote.
"Delete the apps and unfollow those who are complicit in this crime against our gender," she added.
Jamil pointed out that outlets sometimes treat images of men and women differently when using photoshop editing tools.
Alongside four magazine covers -- two featuring men and two featuring women -- Jamil described the differences she perceived among the images.
"An example of Photoshop being weaponised against women: This is how we portray men in their 50s on magazine covers and women in their 50s. Look at the difference. Men who age are sexy in HD. Women mostly just shouldn’t dare age. Men can celebrate the inevitable, we must fear it," she wrote on Twitter.
Actors George Clooney's and Josh Brolin’s covers appeared to have noticeably less image alterations than actors Sandra Bullock's and Nicole Kidman’s covers.
Jamil said eliminating these wrinkles, age spots and physical attributes paints a false picture of reality.
"We need to see spots. We need to see wrinkles. We need to see cellulite and stretch marks," she wrote in her op-ed.
"If not, we will become almost allergic to the sight of them, even though we all have these things on our own bodies. We need to be honest with ourselves and with each other so that we can all be free," she added.
Photoshopping sometimes doesn’t extend to men, Jamil points out.
"We shoot men in high definition on magazine covers. But for them, the inevitable lines of age are a sign of distinction and rugged attractiveness,” she wrote. “Men are allowed to wear baggy clothes to cover their bellies and they aren't subjected to couture modelled by emaciated 16-year-olds on runways."
The actress says that by altering these photos of women, as a society, "We are making people almost allergic to the mere sight of normal human features."
However, magazine editors have defended the practice in recent years.
Former editor-in-chief of Self magazine, Lucy Danziger, came under fire in 2009 for a heavily photoshopped cover of singer Kelly Clarkson. She defended the cover of the magazine, which is devoted to health and wellness.
"A cover's job is to sell the magazine, and we do that, every month, thanks to our readers," she wrote in a blog post. "Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best. Did we publish an act of fiction? No."
She said the magazine layout is different from a newspaper, for example, and is instead meant to "inspire women."
"But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand," she wrote. "This is art, creativity and collaboration. It's not, as in a news photograph, journalism. It is, however, meant to inspire women to want to be their best. That is the point."
Another member of the magazine's editorial team at the time echoed the sentiment in a separate post.
"We have absolutely no reason to get worked up over PhotoShop," said Ashley Mateo. "Magazines don't hide the fact that they're always trying to sell issues -- and to sell copies, you need to appeal to readers with the best writing and the best images possible. We all know celebrities are human (at least, we all should know), so why do we get bent out of shape when a magazine alters an image to portray a celebrity in their best light?"
The idea that a woman's appearance should be altered has changed, especially in the age of the #MeToo movement. Still, magazines still use the practice.
Jamil added the airbrushing photos has an economic impact too: the images can mislead consumers, negatively influencing purchasing decisions.
"If you buy the products airbrushing is used to advertise, you won't look like the person in the photograph," she wrote in the BBC op-ed.
"It exists to sell a fantasy to the consumer that this 'perfection' is indeed possible," she added. "If you have yet to achieve this beauty standard, it tells you, you should buy some expensive products immediately, because then you will look like the person in the photo. (But, as I said just a moment ago, you won't.)"
She added that desires to "correct" one’s physical features can also stem from unrealistic images created by photoshop.
"If you see a digitally 'enhanced' picture of yourself, you run the risk of becoming acclimatised to that level of flawlessness and it makes it harder for you to accept your actual image - the one that exists in real life, in the mirror," she wrote.
"Filters and digital editing have almost certainly contributed to the fact so many of the women I know have turned to needles, knives and extreme diets to try to match their online avatar," she added.
Jamil points out that photoshopping has led to increased eating disorders and body image insecurities across the globe, while the industries that promote these unsafe and unrealistic photos are profiting off young women's insecurities and desire for "perfection."
"I haven’t banned all photoshop of myself because I’m being some sort of martyr for women, I’m doing it for MY mental health, so I don’t set myself up for a fall when I look in the mirror, after seeing a digitally enhanced 'flawless' avatar. I don’t want the pressure or scrutiny," she wrote on the social platform.
Jamil is a vocal proponent of body activism and combating unrealistic image expectations.
She founded "I Weigh" in March 2018 to share photos of women embracing their bodies, identity and unique attributes.
Many of the posts combat societal image norms and encourage followers of the account to do the same. The account has gained almost 250,000 followers since its launch.