warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Body Evolution: Bare-Faced to Barbie Doll

Emily Mae Czachor |
November 1, 2013 | 4:28 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Artificiality in the media has reached an alarming new status. In 2011, GlobalDemocracy.com created a video, entitled "Body Evolution," in order to urge viewers to vote in support of a global proposal created to encourage mandatory disclaimers when manipulating bodies in advertising. The video, which resurfaced on YouTube this past week, exposes the extent to which the use of Photoshop can drastically alter the features of a model in order to create the polished, essentially surreal characteristics that the public can see on the pages of magazines. 

The "Body Evolution" video is short - it lasts approximately 60 seconds in its entirety - but it clearly conveys the shocking truth behind the print modeling industry. The video begins by focusing on an attractive model, clad only in bright red bikini bottoms, who lays on her stomach before the camera. Her blonde hair is tousled, and her face is clean of any makeup. Over the following 36 seconds, the model's entire disposition is transformed not only by substantial amounts of makeup and thick hair extensions, but also by acute photoshop features that distort her body parts: her eyes are enlarged, lips magnified, limbs elongated, and shoulders, waist, and backside lifted and chiseled. The final product hardly resembles the face or body of the original model, leaving viewers both confused and concerned about the perception of the female body that is promoted by the media.

It is possible that such radical photo editing does not occur in all situations in which a model appears in print. It seems unlikely that the plastic, Barbie doll fabrication in the video is the result of all photo shoots. However, even if the situation occurs in a less extreme manner, Photoshop is forcefully implemented in seemingly all photographs of models. Victoria's Secret lingerie model, Erin Heatherton, expressed her opinion about retouched photographs in an interview with the Huffington Post in 2012. "I feel like it looks like someone else," said Heatherton, upon viewing photographs of herself with more prominent features and without her facial freckles. Seemingly minute qualities of a model's physicality are erased in order to present the public with an unattainable, porcelain complexion - an ideal that becomes ingrained in the minds of many consumers, including young, impressionable girls. In the current social and psychological climate of body dysphoria as well as the prevlance of eating disorders amongst young women, images such as these only fuel insecurity.

There is controversy regarding whether or not the "Body Evolution" video depicts authentic behind-the-scenes footage, or if the scene has been contrived for purposes of depicting re-touching techniques in the media. Perhaps GlobalDemocracy.com created the video in order to expose the truth about the industry - that the supposedly "flawless" women shown on magazine covers actually resemble the appearance of an average woman prior to the imposed glamour of Photoshop. It seems that this aspect of digital technology is largely responsible for the unrealistic, currently upheld standards of "beauty" that contorts the minds of young women. GlobalDemocracy.com's proposal and video assists in the eradication of the manufactured sense of attractiveness disguising itself as reality. 

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.