This article about retouching photographs for magazines contains some pretty revealing stuff, for example Amy Dresser, a retoucher, explaining that “When it comes to notable people […] I feel like embracing the details of that person’s face is what I’m supposed to do. Obviously a person wants to have a nice picture of themselves, and the photographer doesn’t want to look bad, and I don’t want to look like a lazy retoucher, and the magazine wants an appealing image, so you have to find that middle ground.” Someone will have to explain to me how you “embrace the details” of someone’s face by removing many of those details on the computer.
What is truly revolting is when you see statements such as that of Ladies’ Home Journal creative director Jeffrey Saks: “We’re trying to show women looking like real people, and whatever cleaning up we do is basically about the quality of the photograph more than trying to do plastic surgery.” Except that real women - just like real men - have real scars, wrinkles, pimples, etc., and removing those is clearly not “about the quality of the photograph”. But pretending retouched photographs of people show “real people” clearly sends a message: If you don’t look like that (if you have scars, wrinkles, pimples, etc.) you’re not real: you got a problem. How messed up is that?