Proud2Bme | The Bieber Debacle

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The Bieber Debacle

By Chelsea Kronengold--There has been recent controversy about the authenticity of Justin Bieber’s body in Calvin Klein’s Spring 2015 ad campaign.

When the pictures of Bieber’s #mycalvins photoshoot first surfaced, the internet exploded with comments about the size of JB’s muscles and, um, assets.  However, only a few days after Bieber’s ads went viral,, a pop culture commentary website, posted the “original” photo of Bieber next to the allegedly photoshopped advertisement. Looking at these images side-by-side, it appears that Calvin Klein enhanced Bieber’s features making his hands, arms, abs and package bigger, while making his head smaller to emphasize the muscular body.

Denying the “before” photo, Bieber and his team were furious about the supposedly false image and accusations. BreatheHeavy removed the picture and posted a retraction because the website claims they are “not about making anyone feel bad or intentionally stirring the pot (and are definitely not here for lawsuits).” Moreover, the retraction specifically apologizes to Bieber for the” hit to his ego and to the millions of tweens on social media we upset.”

While I am against using photoshop to enhance one’s body, I find it interesting that the apology was specifically in reference to hurting Bieber’s ego and disappointing fans. This statement illustrates the emphasis we place on bodies in our culture and implies that Bieber is nothing but a body to be looked at. I seriously hope that Bieber’s ego (and fan-base) is defined by his status as a successful singer, rather than his big, muscular body.

Since the retraction, BreatheHeavy posted extremely exaggerated photoshopped images of Bieber on Instagram with the caption, “BreatheHeavy got its hands on a few more un-retouched @JustinBieber @CalvinKlein photos. Screen shot asap before I’m cornered into retracting this as well!”

This highly offensive social media post suggest that BreatheHeavy (and is downplaying the effects and damages of trying to achieve a body only possible via photoshop. While this Insta post is an over-exaggeration in response to the initial photoshopped Bieber image, it is still mocking people’s reactions to the harmful implications of photoshop. Clearly BreatheHeavy wasn’t serious in their apology and was merely trying to avoid legal action.  

Regardless of whether this 20-year old male popstar was photoshopped or not, these images of Bieber confirm that males are also susceptible to heavy editing and digital manipulation. Taking this notion a step further, men are also vulnerable to objectification and pressure to conform to an ideal body.

At the end of the day, society (and the media) places unachievable standards on both men and women. It is important for us to be critical consumers of the media and speak up about the dangerous effects of photoshop. We need to learn that all bodies are both beautiful and acceptable, and not to place your self-worth (or ego, as BreatheHeavy mentions) on the size of your body.

About this blogger: Chelsea is a body image and eating disorder scholar and activist, currently pursuing a master's degree in clinical psychology from Columbia University's Teachers College. In addition to her studies, Chelsea is a consultant and program administrator for NEDA’s implementation of The Body Project. Prior to working on The Body Project, Chelsea coordinated the inaugural and second annual Gainesville, FL NEDA walks and served as the Proud2Bme National Outreach Coordinator. Chelsea has spoken on behalf of NEDA and Proud2Bme about her personal struggles with binge eating disorder and body dissatisfaction to media platforms such as Huffington Post Live, Seventeen Magazine, WebMD and SiriusXM Doctor Radio.

Also by Chelsea:

Lights, Camera...Reality

How about a Name Change for Fat-Talk Free Week?

I'm Sick of Halloween Fat Shaming and the Pressure to be Sexy

I Had No Idea: The Most Common Eating Disorder No One Knows About

For more on retouching and photoshop:

Retouched or Not?: New Software Can Tell

Why We Support the Truth in Advertising Act

Running from Vanity

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