Having once spent long hours in Photoshop touching up a series of glamour shots, I always look at the magazine covers in the supermarket check-out line with a healthy slice of bemused skepticism. Sometimes the touch-ups are so obvious it’s amazing they can get away with it – expanses of skin reduced to amorphous blobs of undifferentiated beige; facial features fading, ghostlike, into hair. I have to remind myself sometimes that not everyone views them with such a critical, or practiced, eye.
For those who take the faces at (ahem) face value, there is now a useful corrective. You’ve probably seen it by now: Dove’s brilliant new bit of viral marketing, The Campaign for Real Beauty.
The funny thing is, while viewing that video my first reaction was not indignation at the dishonesty of the finished product, but rather admiration for the people who create that product. Surely, this is a new and as-yet unrecognized art form all it’s own? Art has attempted to mimic the human form for millenia; but now it takes the human likeness as a starting point and subtly changes it into something idealized, iconic. At it’s best, it is as demanding, as ingenious, and as arresting in it’s effect as any other great art.
Fashion photography shouldn’t be seen as reality; but it shouldn’t be denigrated either. It’s a legitimate art form in it’s own right.