The groundbreaking technologies of the late 20th and early 21st century have affected not only the professional lives but also the personal lives of people all over the world. While innovative devices were at first designed strictly for professional use, they soon became so popular that they have begun taking a toll on people’s personal lives as well. Photoshop is one of the most common examples of this phenomenon.
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Through its wide use in the media and by individual users, the software at first seemed like a temporary solution to self-esteem issues, yet in reality, it has multiplied them since it reinforces objectification and the promotion of current beauty trends without allowing one to take unique characteristics into account.
Photoshop as a tool for lowering self-esteem among the general public
The use of Photoshop by both individuals and corporations is typically reduced to masking what are perceived as flaws. As a result, people in Photoshopped images are stripped of their uniqueness and become plastic. This generic representation of people makes it easier for audiences to relate to the people they see in magazines, but it also sets beauty standards to levels that are not simply ridiculous but also unattainable. As a result, people realize that they will never be able to look similar to Photoshopped images and come to perceive themselves as ugly or at the very least unattractive (Ma et al. 140).
When considering the harmful effects of using Photoshopped images as the ultimate beauty standard, one must also consider the fact that image editing software leads people to view the unique and individual characteristics of their appearances as inherent flaws that need to be corrected. As a result, target audiences assume that they do not simply have problems, but possess inherent flaws. The subsequent change in self-perception is immediate and drastic.
As a result, an appreciation for natural beauty is replaced with a worship of artificial perfection. This shift in aesthetic trends is very unhealthy since it makes people set unrealistic standards for their appearance. Furthermore, the enhancement of uniform Photoshopped images hinders the process of seeking out unique personal characteristics and making them the focus of attention. Consequently, the idea that one’s appearance and personality are interconnected, which would contribute to harmonious and successful personal development, is rendered obsolete.
The harm that this tendency cause is ample and irreparable since it fosters a self-deprecating attitude toward one’s appearance among the target audiences. As Photoshopped images are easily accessible to people of any age, the change in perception described above likely affects people even at the earliest stages of their personal development, distorting their self-image and creating a foundation for further psychological issues (Shin et al. 141). Therefore it is necessary to reconsider how Photoshop is used nowadays.
Since Photoshop helps create a perfect image that does not correspond to objective reality yet conforms to current standards of beauty, it does much more harm than good to its users and the people who see the results. Whether used personally by members of general audiences to mask their ostensible flaws, or utilized to create an ideal image that will later be placed on a magazine cover, Photoshop becomes a tool for reducing levels of self-esteem among the general public. As a result, people fail to see the merits of their uniqueness and instead strive to erase their individuality for the sake of complying with current beauty standards.
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Ma, Jenny Weichen, et al. “A Window to the Ideal Self: A Study of UK Twitter and Chinese Sina Weibo Selfie-Takers and the Implications for Marketers.” Journal of Business Research, vol. 74, no. 1, 2017, pp. 139-142.
Shin, Youngsoo, et al. “Selfie and Self: The Effect of Selfies on Self-Esteem and Social Sensitivity.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 111, no. 1, 2017, pp. 139-145.