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Friday, November 8, 2013

Sally Gifford Piper Defies Photoshopped Perfection

 36-year-old Sally Gifford Piper, before and after Photoshop

Photographers have historically used lighting and makeup to enhance a person's appearance during a photo session. And, today, with tools like airbrushing and Photoshop, photographers can manipulate photographs of "beautiful people" into deceiving images that conform to this society's standards of alluring beauty.

Let's face it. Most of us no longer associate natural looks with attraction and beauty. Why? Partly because we have been duped through transformed images to believe that perfection is a hallmark of our 21st century concept of beauty. In today's media savvy climate, software and computers conspire to distort the truth -- it's the image that is feeding the craze for perfection, not the subject in the lens.

The world took notice when a time-lapse video went viral on YouTube this week that showed how an image can be drastically changed via Photoshop. The model in the video, 36-year-old Sally Gifford Piper, and her husband Tim, who directed the video, made the video to make clear the amount of distortion many models undergo. The Pipers are employing the video in an effort to demand mandatory disclaimers be used on all photos of airbrushed models.

The video shows Piper before putting on make-up and getting her hair done, and after. The transformation includes Photoshop. In the video, Gifford Piper’s complexion is smoothed and given a sheen. Her shoulder is raised; her stomach is slimmed down, giving the appearance of larger breasts; and her legs are made longer. Additionally, her calves are narrowed and her neck is lengthened and narrowed. She appears thinner and tanner in the after part.

Piper said, "I feel really angry about the pressure on women and the reality is that most of us don't look like these perfect women." She thinks there needs to be a celebration of all different shapes and sizes. Piper continued: "We need to see more variety and I'm determined to fight for that."

Piper added: ”[I will] learn to love myself better and just be free and cool with it. Not put so much pressure on myself. You know what’s cool though? I got attention for the right thing, I think, as opposed to getting attention for being perfect. I got attention for being imperfect. So it’s a little less pressure.”

To understand the impact of the Sally Gifford Piper project, you must watch the transformation video. Please click this link and see the amazing changes occur right before your eyes:

My Take

You see but you don't really see. A photograph has never revealed the natural state of a subject.  Photography is defined as " the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface." At best, a photo has always been a reproduction with flaws and limits. It does not capture the soul or the heart of its subject.

But, since its beginnings in the 19th century, photography has developed many techniques to alter the appearance of a subject. Now, photographers and computer scientists have an arsenal of apparatus to make the most mundane person look outstanding. Coupled with the present rigid conception of standards of beauty, photographic technology produces products that dazzle the eyes and bamboozle sensible realities. Beautiful photos, yes. Undistorted images of real people, no.

Fraudulent beauty is manufactured because the public has fallen for fantasy and now consumes the misrepresentation as a valued ideal. If you are looking for truth in a photograph of a beautiful model, you must first resign yourself to the likelihood that much more than a click of a simple lens captured the image. You are likely victim to viewing someone who doesn't exist -- a product of tremendous complicity -- in short, a manufactured artwork, part human/part light and "smoke."

Photoshop, cosmetics, silicone, slight of hand -- all used to enhance physical qualities that lack perfection, whatever the word perfection means. After all, the concept defined by perfection is nonsense. The imperfect is truly perfect in the sense that no one lacks faults, defects, and blemishes.

Girls, women, ladies -- your beauty lies in many shapes, sizes, and features. Precious qualities of your anatomy and your spirit cannot be classified in one aesthetic bundle. After staring at your impeccable photo, a man may fantasize about your sexy body; however, only after being with you in your natural state does he begin to understand your charm and grace, qualities that ratify your delicate artistry.

A model is a prototype, and the image of a fashion model is produced with whatever means available as "bait" to attract others. That is a sad actuality, but modeling is a deceiving business bent on profits.

Too bad there is not a Photoshop to enhance heart and soul. Models might rely upon this artificial means to improve their inner qualities and manipulate their image. Not. Shallow concepts of physical perfection would persist because skin is the only valued currency for sexy appeal.

Without a doubt, truly attractive women use their intelligence to project natural beauty and irresistible style. Even though they lack certain qualities of perfection, they overwhelm men with honest, adorable attraction. They believe in their faces, figures, breasts, and butts in their God-given proportions, and they know how to package themselves as beautiful, confident females without silly formulas of perfection. 

Good luck, Sally Gifford Piper. I hope you succeed in getting your point across. And, by the way, you are beautiful as you are, before your husband manipulated your image. No one can define the qualities of perfection just as no one can limit standards of beauty. The quality of any work of art relies upon its apparent natural imperfection. 

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