Proud2Bme | Retouched or Not? New Software Can Tell

Retouched or Not? New Software Can Tell

Pretty much every photo you see in magazines has been through some kind of digital alteration. Now two researchers have a software idea that would measure the gap between fantasy and reality.

They've created an algorithm to measure how much a person's face and body has been changed, giving each image a rating of 1-5, with 1 being closest to the truth and 5 being off in the land of pure fiction. How "flawless" is that model's skin? What about those washboard abs on that actor? Real, fake, or somewhere in between?

Software like this could provide a technology solution for activists around the world who are working to raise awareness about how the mass consumption of retouched images can be harmful to our health. In the United States, the American Medical Association recently took a stand against retouching, releasing a policy that “discourage[s] the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.” And there's now proposed federal legislation--The Self-Esteem Act--that would require retouched images to be labeled.

“We’re just after truth in advertising and transparency,” Seth Matlins, co-founder of the online magazine "Off Our Chests" and co-creator of The Self-Esteem Act proposal, told The New York Times. “We’re not trying to demonize Photoshop or prevent creative people from using it. But if a person’s image is drastically altered, there should be a reminder that what you’re seeing is about as true as what you saw in 'Avatar.'"

Magazine editors are not exactly jumping for joy about this software (shocker!). But there are other critics who might surprise you. In this segment for Australia's The Morning Show, body image expert Lydia Turner of Body Matters thinks that ratings like these could actually backfire. "We need to be very cautious about any ratings system that ranks and rates women based on appearance," she said. Ultimately, the message is still that we should be striving to look like these images, even if they happen to have labels on them. And on top of that, we'd now be absorbing the idea that this model or celebrity is X degrees more "perfect" in reality than that one. Is that really helpful, or are we just piling on another layer of apperance-based judgment?


What do you think? Should Photoshopped images be labeled?

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