How Photoshop Ruins Our Self-image. ~ Kai DuBose

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Not unlike many women and men, I like to look nice.

I take pride in my appearance. I work out regularly (and practice yoga which has the added benefit of keeping me in shape).

However, like many, I have those areas I just wish were a little flatter, a little toner, a little—how can I say—just a better texture.

I love my body (okay, I am growing into loving all of my curves). I cannot help but notice that everywhere I look in the media, I see bodies that look fantastic. I see blogs with tips for washboard abs, I see posts for exercises for bottoms that look round like casaba melons. I have friends (male and female) who like and comment on photos on social media and I admit I look at them and say, “What the heck?”

I recently spent the week visiting the beach and saw nothing like what I saw in those pictures and posts flying all over the internet. This is not a piece on the weight epidemic in this country; this is a piece on our warped perception of our bodies.

Here are the five things I noticed while lounging at the beach and why I know Photoshop has us all f*cked up:

1. We are not all smooth like a baby’s bottom.

Okay, I will admit some of the bodies I saw on the beach had baby bottom smooth skin, and you know what? The bodies wearing the skin were all under 20; most were under 12. Photoshop has us all phukked up in the head thinking we are all supposed to be smooth and ripped bodies when unclothed.

2. To piggyback on number one, we have lumps, bumps and rolls, as my mother would say.

Some call them curves. I call them life. I look like a woman who has lived. I gave birth to four children. One was an emergency c-section, so to save my life, there was little attention to how low or long my incision would be (and I am thankful for that).

So the bodies on the beach or at the pool may have scars, puckers, ripples. If you are pregnant or recently (or not so recently had a child), you may have a linea negra, not the Photoshop crap we see—or should I say don’t see.

We never see a scar, or anything not picture perfect with the Photoshop media.

“Photoshop fail. Her stomach looks great, but her fingers look like they met the…thresher?” 


3. Being healthy and being thin are not the same and one is not necessarily nicer to look at than another.

If you have been to anyone’s beach you know you see more body types than you may be ready for. I know even the thinnest bodies on the beach do not look Photoshop fresh like the photos I see minute by minute online.

So again, I say Photoshop has made even the healthiest bodies no longer look normal to our Photoshop phukked up eye.

4. Most of us would look ‘Photoshop fresh’ if we were wearing the most flattering bathing suits, had optimal lighting and a hair and makeup team following us at all times.

Many times, I see beautiful men and women in unflattering swimsuits. It is hard to ignore the giant Angry Bird on someone’s ass and appreciate their toned legs. Maybe we should ease up on Photoshop and go after whoever thought putting an Angry Bird on your backside was a good idea.

5. Take a minute to look at photos before Photoshop even existed and see how f*cked up Photoshop really is.

I am a lover of photographs. I love to see photos of my friends, family and even strangers. I look at old photographs and see bodies in all shapes and sizes.

Really look at the pictures and notice belly bulges on very shapely and beautiful women. Dimples on the backs of thighs. The absence of perfectly sculpted bodies.

What I do notice is an abundance of style and life in those photos.

In this media-obsessed world we live in, we should be mindful of the images we view.

We each now have the ability to live and feel like a star, by photoshopping or only sharing those photos we deem show us as “physically ideal,” but what we are losing is the raw honest beauty our photos reveal about our lives.


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About Kai DuBose

Kai DuBose is a wife and mother of four children and a black Labrador retriever. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in English, law degree and Masters in Elementary Education; all crucial to her daily life as chauffeur, cook, maid, mediator, life coach and volunteer extraordinaire. Yoga has become her time to reconnect with herself, which is not as fun as it sounds. There is often a lot of stuff to muck through on the mat, but yoga some how  continues to draw her back. Yoga is helping Kai laugh more, stress a little less, bear the discomfort life sometimes brings, and just breathe through it. You can follow Kai’s often amusing and unpredictable life with her family on her blog.


23 Responses to “How Photoshop Ruins Our Self-image. ~ Kai DuBose”

  1. meema says:

    The Apple does not fall far from the tree. Love the insights and observations. I’ve given my 40 plus years of baby belly a name “Sammy”. I’ve grown to appreciate my female pulpitudes in my mature years. I chuckled a lot reading this. I hope my grand children grow to be body confident with a mom like you. Smile

    • Kai says:

      Hah! The observations and insights mostly stem from a beautiful woman who encouraged (and still does) me to wear that two piece, love my body and not to worry about the rest! Love you mom aka meema. Thank you for reading.

  2. Morgan says:

    Photoshop isn't REAL.. Why give it any attention at all?

    • Kai says:

      Thank you for reading Morgan. You are correct, Photoshop isn't real and we should not give it any attention at all, but the reality is we do because it is SO prevalent in every aspect of our culture. I noticed my two daughters paying more and more attention to images that were distorted or "not real." That is what spurred this piece.

  3. Maria says:

    We can care about the body but not get too focused on it, we should remember that we are not the body. Instead try to see the 'life force' and traces of kindness in each person. Of course this rules our Photo make-up.

  4. cindylbentz says:

    I ruined the early years of my life trying to be 'that body' in the picture. As a young person in the 80's I did not realize these pics were airbrushed and photoshopped,( or if I did I chose to ignore it). A nasty eating disorder, fueled by the images in magazines and my poor self image led me almost to the grave. This is a very powerful article. Bravo!! Freedom is found in these words for someone who reads them today.

    • Kai says:

      Thank you so much for reading Cindy. What a powerful testimony you shared! My piece was inspired by listening to my daughter who is not even 12 and drop dead gorgeous tell me she thought she was fat. She has a very athletic build and already is more shapely than most of the images shown in mainstream media. My piece is to fight back against that and insure my daughters grow up knowing how beautiful and strong their bodies are and that they are to honor them in all phases and stages throughout their lives.

  5. Catherine says:

    Great choice of subject and great article!

    Photoshop can be a lot of fun to use for correction of photos (lighten if too dark and vice versa), for creating incredible artwork, etc. I have actually taught Photoshop and I love to play with it. For friends, I have removed things from photos (the flowers added by the cruise line, the ugly clock on the wall with an electrical cord in family groupings) so it does have many, many uses that do not involve trying to make people look perfect.

    Even before Photoshop, models had the "advantages" in having the extreme (and extremely rare) body type that showed well in photos, expertly applied make-up including body make-up, perfect lighting and, in case the general public doesn't realize it, unnatural physical poses to flatter the body. You don't notice that last one unless you have had to do it yourself. Once as a senior in high school, for a local bathing beauty calendar, I was chosen for a summer month so I had to wear a bathing suit. I was kneeling on the sand at the beach and had to twist my body and lean MUCH farther back than you really would find quite comfortable, all to make the picture look good.

    How does the saying go? "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

    • Kai says:

      Thank you for reading Catherine. Your insight is wonderful and very true what you say about the fun uses of Photoshop. I have used it to remove the ceiling fan out of the Christmas photo or like you mentioned the electrical cord in a family shot.

      Yes, many do not realize the effort that goes into making a shot look "effortless." Again a huge thank you. All the best!

  6. theeffortlessbeauty says:

    I love this, thank you Kai. I loved what you said about how being thin and being healthy are not the same – I think that's where we get all messed up in the head, thinking that being healthy and beautiful NECESSARILY means being thinner. When I'm kicking ass in a step aerobics class, I think of all the thinner, but NOT necessarily fitter and stronger, women who have fat shamed me, and how they would be falling off their step boards trying to keep up with me. We should totes appreciate the thousands of amazing things we can do with our bodies, whatever shape we're in because with or without photoshop. Wonderful, thank you! xxxx

    • Kai says:

      Thank you @theeffortlessbeauty (love that!) for reading. I agree wholeheartedly with you. Thinner is not necessarily healthy and even thin is not baby's bottom smooth and unblemished. The key is to love and appreciate what we have and not ascribe to anyone else's definition of what beauty is. We define that ourselves. xxxx back at ya!

  7. Robin says:

    Enjoyed and agree with this article. Was a great reminder to not take life so seriously and enjoy every moment. I am sending this article to my daughter as well. Thank you for your contribution.

    • Kai says:

      Hello and thank you Robin. I love what you say about enjoying every moment and not taking life so seriously. That is what I strive for everyday and usually everyday when I fall out of a pose in yoga, get get just that reminder. Hah! All the best to you!

  8. Iya Affo says:

    Another gorgeous piece written by a gorgeous soul! I love the authenticity of your writing. You sound like a woman I’d like to be friends with! Thank you for this contribution!

  9. iya affo says:

    Another gorgeous piece written by a gorgeous soul! I love the authenticity of your writing. You sound like a woman I'd like to be friends with! Thank you for this contribution!

  10. Jennifer says:

    Hello, great post. I hope more woman can become aware and spread their awareness of the twisted view the media has created of the female body. Miss Representation is a GREAT documentary about exactly this, I recommend it to you if you haven't already seen it!

  11. GretaCargo says:

    Amen!!! Nicely done!!!

  12. Caroline says:

    Photoshop is just a tool. It's the industry that supports these creations that is warped. Professional photographers have been re-touching and airbrushing for decades – Photoshop just made it easier to do so much more. We let the industry get away with this when we buy the magazines, watch the TV, and buy the products. We have to teach the next generations of people to see past the magazine shots, the TV, the internet and the products. Teach them to look at the world with their own eyes instead of through a warped filter.

    I use Photoshop most days but I'm color correcting images so they will print correctly (as the object really is) rather than making it better. Most of the time I need to remove specks of dust on the photograph so when it's blow-up to poster size, the speck isn't huge. I couldn't do this without Photoshop or some other program like it.

  13. APlush says:

    Love this! Such a great post. We can't be reminded too often about this. Our bodies show a person who has lived. My husband always tells me he would rather have me with all my scars because it means I have a story and I do things, than if I was perfect and sat at home obsessing about it. Awesome point about your C-sectin scar! Not to be too cliche, but scars are just the proof of living. Thanks for this reminder that our bodies are unique for a reason! We are too busy living!

  14. Caren says:

    I love this. Such honest insight…refreshing. This, sans many the colorful language, should become mandatory reading for youth. I have become a person committed to a single lifestyle due in large part to this very mentality pervasive in our society. I have had children leaving me with a "flabdomen" as my friend refers to it. I bear the striations in my skin of my body's growth and shrinking from that amazing ability to grow a new life in my body. I have dermopathy & neuropathy from Type 2 diabetes. I live in the South, it gets hot. One day I put on Capri's and my male companion said to me, "Are you going out with your legs showing like that?" I replied, "Yes, their the only legs I have!" What I Really wanted to say was,"Why? Do you think people will think less of you seeing you with me and my legs?" I am well traveled, educated, employed, articulate woman, but because I don't have that confidence anymore I'll remain enjoying myself, by myself. Thank you for being real.

    • Kai says:

      Thank you Caren for your response. I wrote this almost two years ago and have found myself having to come back and re-read my own words. We are so much more than the skin we are in. Enjoying learning to enjoy the skin I am in during the time I am in it. Love and light to you!!

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