Photoshop – Angel or Devil?

The latest Photoshop outrage in the media is, once again, the topic of obesity in advertising. First 5 of California has sparked outrage over their newest anti-childhood obesity campaign where they apparently Photoshop-ed a healthy child to look obese. [First 5 Website]

Image courtesy of Huffington Post.
For those of ye that have not the knowledge, I actually designed a poster for First 5 of California back in high school when I won one of their contests.

My First Place winning poster for First 5 of California

It was for their “Read to your child” campaign – a summer-long reading celebration aimed to promote early childhood literacy. They are always trying to bring awareness to what the current social issues are for young children, so it is only natural that they should tackle the topic of obesity. Needless to say, they have successfully brought awareness to the topic even if the method they used did not go as planned.

So that leaves the real question at hand: Just how much does Photoshop affect our lives? And when is it enough?
Image courtesy Beauty Redefined.net
Ye may not realize just how much is altered at the hands of a Photoshop artist. We’re talking about a program here that can create entire worlds from a blank canvas when used properly. Every yearbook photo is ‘touched up’ in an attempt to make everyone appear flawless twenty years into the future. We’ve chopped off limbs, shrunk waistlines and brought to life many fusion lifeforms. The role of the Photoshop artist is often either overlooked or beaten overhead with a frying pan. He or she is only doing what they are told to, with the materials they are given. Sometimes it is just not possible to create that ad your boss wants with the tools you have, so we resort to modern day ‘smoke and mirrors’.
When ye know it’s all just cheesy magic tricks, is it really worth getting all worked up over? Would ye rather us use a child who is struggling with his or her weight and run the risk of throwing them out there to the world of blood-thirsty media just to have them scarred for life? That certainly doesn’t help anyone! Would we not rather resort to ‘smoke and mirrors’ and live with the comfort that it is just that? Shall we just ban the magic shows too while we’re at it? (Well there goes half of the Las Vegas entertainment industry!)
Is it not a protection mechanism? Why, yes, there is overkill. (See the Ralph Lauren ad controversy if ye so desire an example.) But at the end of the day, Photoshop is a tool made for this very thing. Don’t abuse it – use it respectfully. Why not use it to protect innocent children from being ridiculed needlessly?
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