Is Body Positivity Possible With Photoshop?


Courtesy of Little Mix We’re all familiar with the art of Photoshop. Even if you don’t engage in the practice yourself, you’ve certainly viewed it on billboards and magazine covers, even profile pictures and Instagram posts. When it comes to bending reality, the Adobe wizardry knows no bounds.

As if Facetune’s slimming powers weren't enough of a mind f*ck, music videos are the latest medium to go under the digital knife. For a brazen example check out Little Mix’s latest music video for their hit “Touch.” Or, should we call it “Touch(ed Up).” Many noticed that singer Jesy Nelson was heavily Photoshopped in the in the video, where Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, and Nelson are dancing in front of striped walls, which were definitely a strong visual, but also helped viewers spot some flagrant editing and retouching. Seriously, we've seen cleaner work on LinkedIn headshots.

Fans instantly took to Twitter to showcase their findings and voice their concerns, with one fan posting a series of screenshots from the video that seem to show that Jesy's thighs had been manipulated in post-editing. Another user shared photos that suggest her torso had likely been Photoshopped as well:

Surprisingly, this isn't the first time a music video has been flagged on social media for a Photoshop failure; In May 2016, Meghan Trainor's "Me Too" video was pulled shortly after the singer noticed that she'd been digitally edited to look thinner. At the time of the controversy, the Grammy-winning artist stood by her body and claimed that she never gave the go-ahead for someone to alter her appearance.

Though Vevo upholds that the Little Mix video was not in fact photoshopped, both Trainor’s and Nelson’s cases are especially problematic because the performers are notable promoters of body positivity. They’ve preached on multiple occasions for women to celebrate their curves and partake in lyrical slamming of body standards. "Who's that sexy thing I see over there? That's me, standing in the mirror," Trainor sings in “Me Too.”

Photoshop is proven to have devastating effects on self-confidence, specifically among young women. There’s mounting pressure for everything you share online to look “better” that it does in real life, whether it be your waistline or your teeth color. Thanks to advancing editing apps, image touching-up is no longer restricted to professional media. Even if you swear you didn’t alter your latest Insta, people nowadays probably won’t believe you, heightening the ridiculous stress of social media. Not to say photo editing is outright heinous—we all do it. It’s just kind of unfortunate that it’s mainstreaming into the music industry.

Music is supposed to be an escape from the reality, but in a reality where everything is starting look phony, it may need to be a return to real world. A grounding form of art rather than a warped one, you could say. Body-positive songs hold the power to become anthems for girls who have a seriously hard time loving themselves. Why sabotage them with half-assed Photoshop jobs?