The XX Factor

Learning To Spot the Photoshop 

Examples of photo alterations collected by Hany Farid
Examples of Photoshopped images collected by Dartmouth researcher Hany Farid.

When’s the last time you saw an un-Photoshopped picture of a celebrity? Maybe longer ago than you think. I’d never really looked at before-and-after Photoshopped images before, so my visit to the website created by Dartmouth researchers to demonstrate their new Photoshop-revealing tool was, well, revealing. Never again will I marvel at how good Kim Cattrall looks for her age—at least, not in a magazine spread. 

The Dartmouth students and their professor developed a tool and system (described on Mashable) to create a “Photoshop rating” for any given image, so that a heavily edited image would get a five, while something untouched would be a zero. Can you imagine a world in which every advertising image or magazine fashion shoot carried, in effect, a warning level, with a “five” standing for the concept “no one really looks like this?” 

We’ll have to imagine it, because unfortunately you can’t just apply the tool to any image. Publishers and advertisers would have to agree to to put a rating system in place (or possibly, in Europe, have a ban imposed on them). But until that day, XOJane editor Emily McCombs offers 75 completely un-Photoshopped images of women’s bellies, sent in by readers to help change the idea that we should all meet some untouchable standard of what Margaret Wheeler Johnson at HuffPo calls “flat, blank abs.” Real world images of women. What is the Web coming to?