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Men Got Photoshopped To Re-Create The Ideal Female Body And The Results Were Alarming

What happens behind the picture-perfect image, and is it actually attainable for women? For the first time, men will be subjected to the same amount of scrutiny when the Try Guys re-create famously photoshopped pictures of female celebrities.

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One recurring response was that commenters pointed out that this was just a small taste of what women have to endure every day.

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

Previously, a few brave ladies explored what it felt like to get photoshopped to meet the beauty standards imposed on women, one of many original BuzzFeed experiments focusing on women's retouching culture. But have men ever truly been put under the same type of intense scrutiny and editing?

After experiencing firsthand just how far removed from reality men's magazines were, the Try Guys decided to take it a step further and re-create a few iconically (if not infamously) photoshopped pictures of women.

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Chrissy Mahlmeister, BuzzFeed lifestyle editor and beauty guru, guided them through the history of how ideal female beauty has been constructed.

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

She explained that these insane ideals can perhaps be credited back to the pinup era, in which women's bodies were drawn rather than photographed. Because the ideal body was depicted through a drawing, it was nearly impossible for anyone to actually meet those standards of beauty.

"Unless an ad specifically says 'This has not been photoshopped,' I can guarantee you that it has been photoshopped."

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

In short: We need to recognize that photoshop is a huge, often essential part of the fashion and beauty business. But that doesn't mean it's always, if ever, realistic.

Zach went with a Ralph Lauren advertisement from 2009 in Japan. The advertisement (on the left) shows Filippa Hamilton (a size-8 model) with a waist photoshopped so intensely that her head appears to be larger than her waist, and her arms and legs startlingly thinned down.

Ralph Lauren

The photograph received immediate backlash from the public, and PR representatives from Ralph Lauren publicly apologized, saying, "After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body."


Keith picked an underwear advertisement that was posted in 2015 to Victoria's Secret's social media pages.

Victoria's Secret

The photograph shows the model missing a portion of her butt and a pronounced thigh gap, and attention was called to it by commenters on the Victoria's Secret Facebook page and across the internet after it was posted.

Ned wanted to re-create a photo of Madonna for her album Hard Candy, which had been altered so heavily that it essentially erased every wrinkle and line in her skin. As a result, she has an odd, alien-like, blurry glow, rather than skin with natural texture.


Madonna's photoshop calls attention to the severe ageism in our culture and the inability for women in the spotlight to be allowed to age gracefully.

Finally, Eugene decided to re-create an image from one of the most enduring and controversial celebrities in the beauty game: Kim Kardashian. The photo shoot featured Kim posing nude in the desert for her website. Though there was some intense back-and-forth on whether or not this image was heavily photoshopped, several commenters compared the shot with an unretouched still from Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and pointed out how the printed image was altered.

Kim Kardashian

Although it's hard to distinguish the extent of the photoshopping in this image, the Kardashian/Jenner family are definitely no strangers to using editing apps and retouching techniques on their photos.

The guys quickly learned that Photoshop wasn't the only thing that went into getting the "perfect" photo. They had to spend hours prepping, getting their hair and makeup done, as well as having almost every part of their body contoured.


The beauty team and photographer were instructed to be as frank and hypercritical as possible in order to re-create the oftentimes brutal microscope female models and celebrities are put under.

While they tried to maintain a sense of humor about the situation, the guys admitted to starting to feel pretty uncomfortable and blatantly objectified while trying to get a good raw "before" photo.

Hitting the pose for each photo was not only physically strenuous, but also emotionally exhausting.

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

"Be angular and be hard, but be soft, and be seductive, but innocent, and it's like, What are you? ... I can't be all these things at once!"


Here are the exact, actual notes given for each Try Guy's Photoshop job in order to convincingly re-create the editing techniques used on the women while maintaining a male form. Zach's final image:

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

• Most important: Thin down waist, torso, hips, arms, and thighs. Emphasize the skinnier proportions.

• Retouch Zach's face and skin — mainly focusing on wrinkles, blemishes, and veins.

• Add a light glow to his skin.

• Remove his upper arm hair (the more unsightly areas). His chest hair and forearm hair can remain intact.

Keith's final image:

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

• Thin down arms and back, especially waist (remove love handles).

• Retouch skin, especially on back. Remove all blemishes.

• Most important: the butt and thighs. Remove Keith's left buttocks' crease so that it's just one smooth cheek. Keith's right buttocks crease should have the outer half of it removed to appear smaller.

• Thin out the inner part of thighs to create a large thigh gap.

• Add much more definition in lower back (lower spine, lower back dimples).


Ned's final image:

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

• Most important: Airbrush and retouch the absolute hell out of his face. Perfect smoothness and glow.

• Retouch his skin on his body in a similar manner. Remove all freckles and blemishes.

• Remove creases from stomach and flatten abdominal area.

• Brighten/intensify the blue of his eyes.

And Eugene's final image:

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

• Retouch skin over face and body for overall smoothness.

• Most important: Enlarge the butt while flattening the abs and cinching the waist. Huge butt, perfectly thin waist.

• Thin the arms slightly.

• Elongate the legs.

• No need to remove body hair. No need to do anything to chest (can stay more male-looking).

• Remove the few flyaway strands of hair from head on his right side.

When Zach saw his before photo, he felt good about how he looked and relatively comfortable with his body. However, after seeing the photoshopped image compared to the non-retouched photo, the longer Zach started to look at it, the more "chubby" he started to feel. This was really disconcerting, considering Zach has such a slender frame to begin with.

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures

"It's weird because the more I stare at this after photo, the more normal it looks to me."


When Keith saw how his photo had been retouched, he was startled by how little he felt like a person, and how much he felt like an object. His waist was taken in, and parts of his butt were completely gone.

"I hate this. No, I don't want to be seen as a sex object. I want to be seen as a fun person!"

When Ned saw how his photo had been retouched, he was completely shocked and scared to see the new porcelain version of himself. Without his freckles, wrinkles, and laugh lines, he felt like he lost the things that made him human and gave him character.

"Your look has gone from I will either murder or fuck you to won't you please come fuck me?"

Eugene was less upset by his photoshopped re-creation. Though the arch of his back-to-butt ratio was something physically impossible to achieve, he understood why famous women would choose photoshop over being critiqued by the public for their flaws. He remarked that he looked more like a painting than a person.

"One good thing, though, is that people are becoming more aware about the process and what it takes to create these images and how we fit into it as a culture."

"One good thing, though, is that people are becoming more aware about the process and what it takes to create these images and how we fit into it as a culture."

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"One good thing, though, is that people are becoming more aware about the process and what it takes to create these images and how we fit into it as a culture."

Ultimately, the experiment gave the men a lot of insight into the societal standards particularly imposed on women from a young age. It served as a good reminder that most of the media we consume on a daily basis has been altered in some way, and the most important thing you can do is try to love yourself.