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Perpetuate unrealistic ideals with Portrait Professional

By August 5, 2011 5 Comments

Portrait Professional is anti-freckle, pro-blur.

Throughout our lives, we are constantly bombarded by false images that seek to compromise our self-esteem in order to make a profit. Imagine if this false image that you, your friends, family, or professional colleagues saw every day was of you? I recently came across software that would allow individuals to do just that.

It’s called Portrait Professional–portrait “enhancement” software that allows users to alter their faces practically beyond recognition. With features that enable users to eliminate blemishes, remove wrinkles, remove shine, reshape faces, change eye color, lip color, and size, and recolor or thicken hair.

Watching the tutorial on using Portrait Professional was bizarre for me. To begin with, they take a beautiful woman’s portrait to “enhance”. The steps include loading your picture, “choosing male or female so it knows what to do to the face to make it more attractive”, and then letting Portrait Professional use its “knowledge of human beauty” to guide you through the rest.

By the end of the tutorial, this woman, who was beautiful in her own way to begin with, was stripped of her freckles, had the placement and shape of her eyes changed, had her skin tone changed, and the shape of her face made slimmer.

On Portrait Professional’s website, they have a gallery displaying pictures that are the product of the software’s “enhancement” features. At a glance, these the people appear to be wearing a great deal of makeup in these images, but when you scroll over them to see the “before” image, you can see the stark difference. The people in these photos are devoid of what makes them human– “flaws”.

This girl doesn't actually look anything like this.

Women, men, and even children and young adults are shown altered in this gallery. What I found most troubling were the children’s altered portraits. In fact, that’s how I found out about Portrait Professional. I saw an advertisement with a split screen “before and after” of a young girl’s face.

Beforehand, she looked like a healthy, normal girl. After, she had been made to look beyond her years and unlike her real self. Her skin tone was evened, her nose was made smaller, and her lips and eyes were changed to look as though she was wearing cosmetics when she originally was not.

We know that photo-retouching exists in the media. Have we become so comfortable with this fact that we feel as though it’s what we should do to our own image? Or has the media set a precedent of “unrealistic and unattainable” as the norm?

— Meganикони на светци