2. So many girls grow up idealizing women on magazine covers — they long for their unattainably small waists, big lips, and thin legs. So five average women posed and were photoshopped to look like cover girls.
We enlisted the help of Francesca Ling, an L.A.-based photo retoucher and owner of True You, to make us look magazine-worthy. For the majority of her work, Francesca believes retouching shouldn’t consist of shaving pounds and changing the person in front of the lens entirely — which so many magazines tend to do.
4. However, for the purpose of this post, Francesca used her skills as a retoucher to dramatically photoshop each woman and demonstrate how far from reality magazine standards for beauty can be.
What was retouched on Kristin: Slimmer arms and body, neck, and face. Smoothed skin on arms and neck, erased lines, erased scars on neck. Reshaped lips, made fuller, and added some color. Slight teeth whitening. Minor reshape of nose, less shine. Bigger eyes, brighter, added eye lashes, added eye shadow. Filled in and shaped brows. Added blush. Hair smoothed, more volume, and reshaped. Smoothed skin on kneecap.
How Kristin felt about her original photo: Confession: I hate smiling with teeth. I have really high and pronounced cheekbones, so I feel like whenever I smile, my eyes get swallowed up into my face. But IRL I laugh so much. I think if you can imagine me also making some weird over-the-top hand and arm gestures, this is pretty representative of what I look like.
Kristin’s reaction to her retouched photo: The lightning bolt scar on my neck has been erased. HOW WILL VOLDEMORT KNOW WHERE HIS LAST HORCRUX IS NOW?! This is like looking into an alternate universe where I am a real estate agent on a bus ad. I know that aesthetically I look much better, but to me I look like an animal that has been stuffed by a taxidermist. Like, it’s technically my (beautified) face — but it doesn’t feel to me like Kristin is actually in there. Also, my kneecap skin was apparently smoothed? What was wrong with my kneecaps?! That said, retouched Kristin has a lovely three-bedroom bungalow in Beverly Hills that just went on the market that she thinks you would just adore.
What was retouched on Allison: Reshaped torso to hourglass shape and contoured camera-right breast. Slimmed arms, removed hair, and smoothed the skin. Took away some creases on hands. Lowered shoulders. Slight thigh reshape. Smoothed skin on neck and chest. Made the neck less wide on camera-right side. Smoothed skin on face and eliminated most lines/wrinkles. Narrowed face and jaw, smaller chin. Plumped lips. Fixed chipped teeth, whitened. Narrowed bridge and tip of nose. Larger, brighter, more even eyes. Added eyelashes. Evened and filled in brows. Gave hair more volume, smoothed, and reshaped.
How Allison felt about her original photo: It’s not my favorite photo of me, but I definitely don’t hate it. I tend to prefer photos where I’m goofing around or pulling a face. But yeah, this looks like me and that’s cool.
Allison’s reaction to her retouched photo: UM WUT. Who is this person? She’s so smooth and hairless and freckle-free. Kinda looks like a sex doll! It’s like someone else made a decision for me about what plastic surgery I should get and it’s way more intense than I could’ve ever imagined. I enjoy my chipped teeth and weird dimples. Without that stuff I look less human and my smile definitely doesn’t look as genuine. Overwhelmingly, though, I think it’s time I invested in some teeth-whitening products.
What was retouched on Kirsten: Body: Slimmer thighs, smoother reshape of hips, smaller waist, lower and narrower shoulders, slimmer neck. Gave hair more volume and shape. Cleaned up skin on arms, chest, and neck, erased lines. Smoothed skin on face, erased most lines. Eliminated shadows under eyes. Filled in brows and changed the shape of the arch. Eyes are larger and more even. Added eyelashes and a little more eye makeup. Bridge of nose narrower, less pointed tip. Reshaped top lip to more of a heart shape, lips a little fuller. Fixed chipped teeth, straightened, and whitened. Face is narrower, jaw and chin smaller. Erased hair tie on wrist. Cleaned nails, especially the thumb.
How Kirsten felt about the original photo: I’m usually hypercritical of myself, so obviously I can pick out a few things I would change (like most people). But overall, it looks like me: slightly awkward and being coached by all the other girls on what the hell to do with my body.
Kirsten’s reaction to her retouched photo: WHAT THE HELL? was my first thought upon seeing the picture. I look like a porcelain doll that comes to life and murders everyone. My lips are bigger, my waist is slimmer, and my skin is completely clear. I think what’s bizarre is you grow up wanting all of those things and wanting to look a certain way, but when you actually see yourself transformed like that — it doesn’t feel like you’re looking at YOU. It made me miss my freckles, my dimples, and all those unique things that make me, me. Also, my thumb was cleaned and shortened! Like, what?! I guess I know what I would look like if I was a Stepford wife.
What was retouched on Lara: Reshaped thighs, hips, hip bone, and waist into a smoother hour glassshape. I brought the camera-right side of upper torso closer to center to make her body smaller. Smaller, lower shoulder. Also moved in cleavage accordingly. Smoothed skin on arms, eliminated shadow on forearm across her waist. Smoothed skin on neck, erased all lines. Smoothed skin on face. Reshape of jaw to be a little more pointed. Adjustment of nostril shape. Gave top lip more of a heart shape. Eyes brighter, added eyelashes. Filled in and shaped brows. Hair has more volume and shape. Took away clothing wrinkles. Minimized skin/fat at the crook of arm between arm and breast camera-right by adding some fabric and eliminating shadows.
How Lara felt about her original photo: It’s certainly not my favorite picture in the world, but overall, it looks like me. I’m kind of an awkward person and usually don’t know what to do with my hands. If you looked up “Lara” in the dictionary, a picture similar to this would appear.
Lara’s reaction to her retouched photo: HOLY SHIT, who is that? Because it sure as hell isn’t me. What happened to my face? Where is my swollen stomach? Whose nose is that? HOW DID MY EYEBROWS GET SO FIERCE? A huge part of me wants to say that it makes me appreciate my body more — but I’m going to be honest, it’s hard to look at this retouched photo and not yearn for some of the aspects of it. I just want to get to the place where I can look in the mirror and love every damn inch of my body. I’m not there yet, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was yesterday. But also — I’m going to have nightmares about Lara 2.0 for weeks. She looks a bit CRAZY.
What was retouched on Sheridan: Body: Slimmed waist and thighs, slimmer arms, shoulders smaller and lower. Face less round. Smoothed skin on arms and hands, removed hair, and erased hair ties on wrist. Fixed collar of shirt. Erased lines on neck, smoothed skin, erased mole. Plumped and evened lips. Reshaped jaw to minimize double chin. Cleaned and smoothed skin on face, less shine. Narrower neck. Bigger eyes, added eyelashes, brighter, evened brows. Smoothed hair and gave more volume.
How Sheridan felt about her original photo: Shine bright like a diamond who sweats easily. I can see some beautiful zits that decided today was the best day to wreak havoc on my face. But I don’t think I look half bad, actually. I mean, this photo isn’t profile pic material, but it isn’t disastrous.
Sheridan’s reaction to her retouched photo: LOL. Man, my skin hasn’t looked this good since I was 8 years old. It’s weird, I look at this picture and I know it’s supposed to be me, but something’s not connecting. It’s like I’m looking at someone who I’m supposed to be. This new Sheridan seems effortlessly flawless, like those girls in middle school who never got acne and somehow pulled off blue braces. Also, who the fuck has arms that hairless and smooth? I remember growing up and seeing photos of women and asking myself why I don’t look like that. Well, now I know, because I would have to skin a baby supermodel to have a face this smooth and flawless.
How Kristin felt about the other girls’ pictures: True story: When I looked at everyone else’s retouched photos, I thought, Yeah, this isn’t what these ladies look like IRL, but it IS what they all look like in my mind’s eye. When I think of people I like, I instinctually think of them as naturally flawless. So I wonder if retouched photos are a sort of a representation of that phenomenon, of how we remember the people we are already inclined to admire.
How Lara felt about the other girls’ pictures: Who are these people? These girls are all so fucking fierce, in so many different ways, and they have replaced the fierceness. They look like mannequins. The way that their eyes crinkle, or their eyebrows run astray…it’s all gone. When I looked at the retouched photos of my friends, I felt disappointed. Like, why change a damn thing?
How Kirsten felt about the other girls’ photos: Looking at the other girls’ pictures, I think they’re so much more beautiful in their natural, untouched state. Because those are the girls who are my friends and who have beautiful laugh lines and dimples and perfect imperfections. In the other pictures, they’re the robot versions of themselves — It’s inauthentic.
How Allison felt about the other girls’ pictures: It’s so crazy to see everyone else’s photos, because they really don’t look that different from themselves. I’m sure we all are freaking out seeing our own photoshopped images, but that’s because we scrutinize ourselves and know our features so intimately that the slightest changes seem massive.
How Sheridan felt about the other girls’ photos: I am creeped out mostly because I know these women. It’s one thing to see a photoshopped celebrity on the cover of a magazine — I’ve never met them, so they could look like that in real life. But seeing “normal” ladies airbrushed to the brink of madness shows just how much effort is put into making people look “coverworthy.” People are beautiful for all different, individual reasons. When we start airbrushing away the things that make us, us, what do we have left?
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