Photoshop Phun

Photoshop Phun

No matter how perfect your diet and workout is, you will never be perfect.  Ever.  You will never look like the beauties gracing magazine covers and advertisements.  Don’t even imagine you can go there.

I can hear the sarcasm now: “Great, Elissa – that’s reeeeeeeeally helpful advice!  Thanks for the encouraging words.”

But hey – bear with me for a moment.  There’s method to my madness.

I’m not trying to bring you down…quite the opposite, in fact.  I’m just drawing a line between fantasy and reality.  And the reality is that you’re seeing a fantasy: the models and movie stars don’t look like that in real life.  As supermodel Cindy Crawford once quipped: “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.”

But there’s more to it than the expertly applied makeup, hairstyles, lighting, and designer clothes…the babes that stare back at you from the pages of Cosmo and Vogue have yet another advantage that you don’t: Adobe Photoshop.

You may have already heard the term: “Photoshopping” – but unless you actually own and use the program, it’s tough to appreciate what it can accomplish. 

I’m a Photoshop user, although I’m a rank amateur…entering the world of Adobe Photoshop is like walking into a library – no matter how much effort you put into it, you’ll never be able to take it all in.  I’ve used the program to create some pretty cool graphics for e-books, although I’ve barely scratched the surface of managing photo transformations that look realistic.  I’ve learned enough and seen enough, however, to truly appreciate the artistry that goes into it.

Take, for example, this photo – which was transformed by the digital wizardry of Greg Apodaca (roll your mouse over the photo to see the “before” shot).  This is an even more extreme example.

Is this guy good, or what?

He’s not alone.   Check out the number that Redbook did on country music star Faith Hill.

The sad thing is that there’s nothing wrong with the women who posed for these pics – they’re all normally attractive and in good shape.  Yet they look almost hideous next to their “idealized” selves.

Why do the-powers-that-be do this?  Ultimately, it’s about creating insecurity, which drives the sale of advertised products.  How else are they going to get women to buy all those cosmetics/books/hair care products/diet pills/etc.? But it only breeds a sense of frustration when it comes to trying to lose weight and get in shape.  Buying into it is like chasing rainbows: you can try it if you like, but it’s nah gah happen.

The moral of the story: don’t base your body image and aspirations on illusions.  Instead focus on being the best you that you can be – that’s more than good enough.


Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.


  1. That was fantastic! Now that’s what I call a reality check!

    And people wonder why there is huge increase in eating disorders – chasing the unachievable.

    How can you compete with a model that’s “made over” in Photoshop!

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  2. Wow what an eye opener!

    Iv’e always known I’m not just a pretty face, but now with Photoshop I could b.

    Do you think you could do some work on a few of my photos too?

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  3. Come to think of it, you did make me look studly on the cover page for chapter 6 of Brinks Bodybuilding Revealed. Thanks again!

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  4. Just wait till August, I have a surprise coming!

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  5. LOL – I’m not in the same league as these guys. I can do masking, tweak color and lighting, and remove/de-emphasize small flaws (like a forehead shine or blemish), but that’s about it. I couldn’t give you larger biceps or shave 10 years off your face and make it look natural – mind you, it can be done, but I don’t have the time/patience to learn.

    You probably don’t want that anyway. Personally, the last thing I’d want is for someone to see my pic, then see the real me and think “OMFG!!!” 😀

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  6. Ha-ha…that was different. I used a series of filters to “posterize” the pictures on the chapter intro page – they weren’t photorealistic, and weren’t intended to be.

    But your starting pic was “studly” already, so naturally it displayed that way. I didn’t have to do anything special to bring out those muscles. 😉

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  7. Way to lay it out for everyone Elissa! I shared this on FB.

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