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Come See How Good I Look! (Thanks Photoshop)

There is an issue that has been on my mind quite a lot lately - editing photos. I've mentioned it before in passing, and I wasn't surprised to hear that most of you are on the same page.

If I say that I eat three bagels for breakfast each day and DON'T - people would be up in arms.
If I say that I run 8 miles each day and DON'T - ditto for the grumpy mcgrumpersons. 
So if I say through photos I look a certain way but DON'T in real life - is that ok?

I'm curious where you draw the line on this one. Is it cool to delete stray pimples in an otherwise profile worthy pic? Wrinkles? Love handles in that bikini shot? Everyone has seen those photos that have edited beyond belief (usually making women skinnier, tanner and um, a little more "endowed"). It's nothing new to see these pictures, which have been recycled on websites:

But what about when those people in the crazy edited photos are bloggers? Case in point:

On the left: normal photo. On the right: a little airbrushing, blemish remover, self tanner, lipstick and something that makes me 30% "thinner". Insta-diet. This took me literally five minutes, and was my first time editing photos. It's not hard to do. Think they look similar? Click on the picture to make it bigger. I have what I would dub "Barbie skin" - smooth like plastic.

Would you, as a reader, be annoyed if my pictures were all digitally enhanced?
I realize that I'm about 8 years behind on the photoshop scandal. I really didn't know how easy it was to edit yourself in a matter of minutes!

What kind of editing is ok?
Honestly, I'm not sure. I guess it's no harm done to me if people edit their Facebook photos, blog photos or even the photos in a magazine. But it's just ANOTHER thing women (and MEN!) have to keep in mind when comparing - ugh.  

*Edited to add: You know what's seriously messed up? In that picture of (the real one) I actually thought I looked pretty good. My hair was down, I had makeup on. Yet, after looking at the digitally altered one for a minute, the one on the left now looks bad. Damn, that was quick.


  1. As a blogger and facebooker, I try to keep the edits to a minimum - usually just cropping and playing around with Instagram filters. I'm ok with minor stuff - like the husband had a cold sore last week. I can edit that out. It doesn't change the veracity of the photo and it affects a temporary characteristic.

    This may also just be because I'm technologically retarded. My editing abilities are like clicking the iphone "edit" button to improve the color quality.

  2. I guess when it all boils down to it, I don't care! Honestly, I compare myself to real women in my life constantly- my friend, people I pass in the store, etc... but I don't with celebrities. I guess it's just assumed that they airbrush now.

    I think a little editing is fine- lighting can really change how you look and it's okay to tweak it. But again, I guess I just don't really get bothered by it!

    I have no problem with food shots being photoshopped either- I like look at things that are bright with vibrant colors.

    And you look totally fine in the first.

  3. Don't feel bad about your before! I think it looks really good! Also, I didn't even notice it was "thinner" until you said something. I could tell the colors were a little "smoothed out", but that's it. That's really interesting, for sure.

  4. You look gorgeous in both. BUt I worry about the standards of beauty that magazines are setting with their airbrushed, slimmed down images of women. It makes us all question how we look in real life, and judge ourselves differently.

    I play around with instagram filters and cropping, but that's about it. And, of course, I'm choosy about what photos go on the internet :)

  5. Ha, I wouldn't ever want to edit my photos on my blog because people that know me would be like WTF and then people would meet me and be like OMFG WTF?! I obviously don't display a ton of picture of me though anyway so I don't know if it really matters in the end. I don't know if I would be annoyed with it but that would be truly embarrassing to meet them and realize they look nothing like their pictures.

    The only Editing that is okay is Lighting and Cropping :) That's all I use and I use it mainly on food.

  6. I don't see a WHOLE lot of difference actually - I think you look great in both pics. I would have just thought that perhaps you had more make up on in the second photo.

  7. Ha - I have no idea how to edit me but I don't post me pics anyway. I honest to God thought those pics were be stunning!

  8. If I knew how to edit my pics, I might do it. But I'm really too lazy. That's also why I don't wear make up or blow dry my hair. So apparently, this is what "giving up" looks like.

    I would think the "enhanced" photos would only be harmful for you since you would know that's not how you actually look and pick yourself apart. If you want to make yourself 30% prettier or whatever, it doesn't matter to me. If you figure out how to make yourself 30% faster, then let me know. :)

  9. If I had the software and knew how, yes, I might tweak some photos. I dot see a problem editing out a blemish or covering dark circles...we do that with makeup every day! But there is a line not to still gotta look like YOU! (and your are gorgeous in your "before" pic, BTW)
    Considering almost all my blog & FB pics are of me running, crazy hobo hair & no makeup, clearly I'm not spending much time too worried about my appearance!

  10. so i guess i'm behind the times... i didn't know you could do all that stuff- especially the insta diet lol--- it made your cheekbones more 'pronounced'. If bloggers are editing their photos, it only sets us up for disappointment when we actually meet them IRL.
    You can rest assured that every photo you see on my blog is REAL- too lazy to make myself look computer good

  11. Unless you told me, I would never know if all your photos were digitally enhanced. But, if so, no, I wouldn't be annoyed. I have way too much going on in my life that annoys me, so getting annoyed because a blogger feels like they need to airbrush out a zit isn't worth it.

    1. Hmmm that comment sounds sort of bitchy - not sure why. I got a phone call in the middle of it, so maybe I was too distracted to sound nice. Didn't mean it that way, sorry!

  12. I don't see much of a difference in look great in both pics!

  13. I have never edited any of my photos, I have the software, I just don't use it. I don't really care what other people do, but it seems odd to edit all your photos. I don't think your unedited photo looks bad at all, you are naturally pretty.

  14. I think you look like Angie Harmon!

    No editing for me, too much effort.

  15. You look gorgeous! I recently had some glamour shots and I thought I looked good too. They actually did TOO MUCH and I had to make them reverse it!

    My sister knows someone in the editing world and she doesn't post pictures on FB unless she AIRBRUSHES AND PHOTOSHOPS EVERYTHING...isn't that crazy? She looks like a completely different person.

  16. you look like Angie Harmon!!! and that is a compliment
    I thought it was her on the pictures

    you look perfect on the left

    no editing for me...well that is not true..I fix the red eyes..that's it

  17. That first picture (without edits!) IS gorgeous!! I think it's fine as long as we remember that the majority of what we see on billboards or in magazines IS edited...DUH, we can look like that too if we edit everything.

    I have recently started using Picnik (the upgraded version is free right now bc it's closing in April) and I must say I'm a pretty big fan of being able to cover up/erase zits! I'm pretty self-conscious about my skin, but I still prefer natural pics.

    You should write a post about your FAVORITE THINGS (running...or not, whatev- it can be anything!) and come link up!!

  18. wow, that is very interesting.........and you do look like angie harmon......the skin thing is amazing and your nose looks different.....

  19. I honestly think you look better in the original- you look like YOU. The other photo you look... ethnic? I don't know. It just looks off. You are beautiful just the way you are.

    I don't do much editing. I boost the color in landscape portraits to make it more true to the eye (the camera washes color out). I do occasionally remove those pesky GIANT pimples from my face, but they have to be pretty big and frightening for me to do even that. It's rare, really.

    I think it's NUTS how much editing goes on. It just goes to show that we kind of live in a perceived reality these days. Nothing is what it seems.

  20. I guess if you editted all your photos to look way different I'd never know the difference until I met you, and then you couldn't hate me for having my jaw hanging on the ground. I've never looked at photo editing in the same light as fibbing your mileage or something like that, but it makes a totally valid point.

  21. I agree you look like Angie Harmon! Severe editing like for magazine covers is ridiculous. My photo editing is generally limited to "straighten" for a crooked shot and an occasional "auto adjust" for exposure in bright or dark photos. In digital pictures that I have gotten prints of, I have edited out a zit here and there. I like Ashley's explanation that it's a temporary blemish.

  22. I hate that magazines photo edit the heck out their covers but knowing that they do has allowed me to look past it and a lot of the time they are not magazine I buy anyway.
    Bloggers altering their pictures ...... I've never thought of that to be honest, I like the idea that blogging is real, about real people not airbrushed people. And clearly I don't do it otherwise my race pictures would not have sent me into mental meltdown :-)

  23. I guess I understand a few touch-ups, but I really prefer the real deal. I think this is partially why so many readers have switched from magazines to blogs. It's real people doing real things that look, well, real!

    By the way, can you edit some of my pictures??? ;)

  24. I think you look a little creepy in the edited picture. But I think it might be the Barbie you're a perfect skinned robot who has come from the future to steal all of our candy...

    Sometimes magazine covers are so edited that they look cartoonish and so it is almost funny. But at the same time - even though I know it isn't real, it does chip away at me one picture at a time. It makes me wish I had perfect skin...even though I know that no one has skin as flawless as magazine picture skin.

  25. Wow. I think you look like a supermodel in both photos! I honestly wouldn't care too much about what bloggers do with their photos. It would be kind of weird to meet someone who looks nothing like their pictures though! I play around with mine sometimes but it's usually just cropping, sometimes adding borders and words. Depending on the lighting that the picture was taken in, I might boost the colour too. I think some editing is okay to a degree but when people start altering major things like their body parts, I think it would be a bit extreme. Not to mention a lot of work just for a blog post! Great post, Vanessa!

  26. I have literally never even considered editing a picture of myself. That definitely seems like lying. Also, I have no photoshop experience, so I'd probably make it worse ;).

  27. You look lovely in both photos! I can't even pick out what exactly is different between each photo, the one on the right just looks a little bit more "plastic-ish" haha.

    I can't imagine someone photoshopping all their blog photos, that would take an eternity. I just use iPhoto to crop my photos and I usually click the "enhance" photo to perk up the colors, but it is literally one click.

  28. To be honest I don't care if your photos are edited or not. I recently got addicted to picnik and posted a few pics where I told people I gave myself a tan, removed wrinkles and zits. I usually tell people when they are as more of a joke ;) but to be honest I think you are silly for posting those before and after shots, as you have no flaws to begin with ;) lol you are BEAUTIFUL Vanessa!!!!! seriously.

  29. I sometimes edit and enhance the photos of sunrises and sunsets because I never feel my camera does it justice and i usually only take those types of pictures when it really is a good sunrise/sunset.

  30. I think your kind of photoshopping is okay. . . taking out birth marks, belly buttons (as Cindy Crawford's first photo cover did) or adding/reducing weight by noticeable amounts, is too far.

    That said, Hubby and I have an awesome photo on top of the high point on Kaua'i, Hawai'i --fog in the background. He's angled to me and his left leg happens to be directly behind mine, so in the photo it looks like he has only one leg. --but it's not photoshopped!

  31. I like both the "edited" and "unedited" pictures. I think even without the edits, you look good. :)

    My editing skills are limited to brightening the entire picture so people can see and maybe, if I have a blemish on an otherwise good picture for that one occasion.
    Example: Blemish on a friend's wedding - yeah, I'll prob edit the blemish. Vs. blemish on a regular everyday picture of me after a run - I'll leave it. Not worth the trouble.

  32. I wouldn't even know how to edit pictures to make myself look better. Sometimes I change the exposure if the picture I took was too dark. Sometimes I crop out accidental nipple. That's it.

    Usually what I do is take 3-400 pictures of the same pose. After I upload them to my computer I go through and delete all the ones that are lumpy-uggo. I go through the rest and pick the one where I look the skinniest, with the least amount of extra chromosomes. Unless I look so awesomely bad that I am compelled to share it with the world (see: goggles picture of the last post).

    I sewed some shirts last weekend, and took pictures, but I hated my face so much in all the pictures that I just deleted them. Does anyone else have ugly days?

  33. You are gorgeous, in both pictures. And, you like look like "Kensie" from NCIS LA in the pictures you posted today! I think she has a very natural, very gorgeous look. :-)

  34. Excellent post!

    I have strong feelings about photoshop. I've been known to add funny quotations to photos (which I suppose counts as editing) or to fix the color on an over-exposed photo, but airbrushing? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It sets a false standard. If a picture is truly awful (like a bad camera angle implying I have 3 chins) I just don't post it.

    And I love Silly Girl Running's blog because she celebrates things like awful race photos.

  35. The thing about photoshop is that when you meet models and actresses in real life, they are still disgustingly good looking. We would compare ourselves to the beautiful, airbrushed or not.

    Ps nice freakin cheekbones. For real

  36. i'm behind the times i had no idea you could do those things so easily, now all my pics will be perfect! :)

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