Media, You've Got to Be Kidding Me


Jessica Alba, before and after airbrushing. I see a thinner waist, thinner thighs, more rounded hips, bigger boobs, more make-up, inexplicably windblown hair, a deeper tan, bigger eyes looking right at you instead of off to the side, and something really weird going on with her left armpit (easier to see if you click over to the bigger pics). 

That’s just off the top of my head. Play along, Shapelings! What else is incredibly wrong with this picture?


(H/T Shannoncc.)

79 thoughts on “OFFS”

  1. The artist made her clavicle look ultra bony with a big dent missing by her shoulder. Did you know that we could ALL be thinner if we just took random dents out of our bodies? Hmm?

  2. They also took away fat from her neck and collarbones, making them more…pronounced, I guess. That seems really random, but I guess it adds to maker her thinner.

  3. They cropped out so much thigh that her left leg looks like it’s not the same length as her right. Also, where they cropped her waist, the belt on the outfit is angled up oddly on the side.

    WTF is wrong with our society that we need to make every single picture of a woman look like some kind of exaggerated sex doll? Ugh.

  4. They magically ironed all the wrinkles out of her outfit.

    They completely changed the background image to a more saturated color scheme. It does make the ‘improved’ pool look like it has an algae problem though.

    I think they made her hair longer, too.

  5. If you look at the other pictures, the last picture with her in a black dress, you can totally tell that’s been airbrushed to death. Her upper body looks horribly misshapen. It’s really sad.

  6. The altered hair makes her skull shape look different.

    It will never cease to amaze me that even women with the most celebrated figures on the planet are considered too flawed to go without photoshop surgery.

  7. Her left eyebrow looks more arched and her lips look more pouty.

    Just what we need, another photoshopped, orange, fish-lipped, waist-nipped sexpot.

  8. Slimmed-down hips… and they gave her bitchface! Why?

    Also, check out the crotch! Interesting that they removed any evidence that she might, well, have one.

  9. So we’re all agreed that even if we go along with mainstream beauty standards she looks better before editing, right? Maybe this just reveals deep-seated control issues on the part of the publishing/ad world. Maybe there’s some deep cultural need to alter Jessica Alba and her colleagues to prove they’re not really beautiful.

  10. Her right leg looks deformed where they filled it in after slimming down her left leg. Her face looks… pornified.

    I keep looking back and forth between the two pictures thinking: “They have it wrong, right? The one on the left is the touched up one?” Because she looks like 20x better in the original.

  11. Gah! The problem with the armpit is that there is skin from the side of her body that goes no-where since they’ve airbrushed away some of the underside of her arm.

    Her head looks oddly or mis-attached at the neck after changing her skin tone and trimming her neck down. Her breasts aren’t only larger, they’re perkier, making her torso look longer before the big belt.

    They de-wrinkled the shorts only to put in a new set of wrinkles on the left that make it look like she’s perched on some sort of oddly tilted stool.

    They also tried to make the fabric look even clingier, no gaps between leg and shorts. No wonder nothing ever looks as good on the rest of us humans if this is any indication of how catalog and internet clothing models get treated!

  12. I completely agree with the statement that the image on the right has been airbrushed to hell, but putting these two together is a bit misleading. They clearly aren’t the same image, ie. the left did not become the right. The backgrounds/lighting/colour saturation are completely different.

    That being said, it’s pretty damn obvious how they’ve butchered her proportions in post-production. Too- thick waist, too-heavy thighs… er… not-bony-enough neck? Really? It’s sad that advertising imagery has been skewed to the point where Jessica Alba (post- baby no less!) is simply not good enough.

  13. What jumped out at me was no quadricep muscle in the second picture.

    They went through a long list on Jezebel. I can’t even deal.

  14. They clearly aren’t the same image, ie. the left did not become the right. The backgrounds/lighting/colour saturation are completely different.

    Jennifer, you may not be aware of the extent of photoshopping done on a typical magazine image. None of this, absolutely none, is above and beyond the standard amount of alteration. Not the change of pose, not the new background, nothing. (The lighting and color saturation is a tweak even I do to my normal snapshots — it makes up for weak photography.)

  15. It looks like they made her shorter too (the way the new pic is proportioned).

    The clothing now has a painted on effect.

    Also, the way they changed her face, it makes it look crooked on her head.

  16. At first I didn’t think they were the same image, but then I realized they put together one head shot with another body shot in post-processing.

    I have seen an increasing amount of just bad photoshoppery in women’s magazines recently. I honestly don’t mind when they smooth wrinkled clothing or flyaway hair, but “toning” arms while leaving in the back muscle is just poor quality work.

  17. Lips go from a hint of a smile (cute) to a bee-stung pout. In fact, her whole face looks angrier/scarier. The eyebrows are more sharply defined.

    And, yeah, the saturation, and there’s a higher contrast between Alba and her background in the second one — which is certainly a Photoshop thing I would do, if I could. But the body-shaping stuff…. she’s so much prettier in the first pic, IMO. Which, um, since we’re critiquing absurd beauty standards, I’ll suggest that which photo is “prettier” is likely not the point.

  18. Jessica Alba is so beautiful on her own, I cannot imagine what possesed them to photoshop her at all, let alone to that extent.

    This frustrates me so damned much. Of course there is a rediculously unattainable standard of beauty being advertised, because it isn’t real, it is totally made up by the person controling the mouse, the software, and the printer.

  19. I just realized her left forearm looks longer than her upper arm.

    ETA: Wait, it looks that freakish in the original, too. Click through HuffPo to the Daily Fail, which I didn’t want to link to, and you can see big, full versions of both pics. I accidentally copied the cropped version, but the red shutters and shit do exist in the original.

  20. Strangely enough, they seem to have given her a double-breast (the left). And it might just be the colour/ saturation thing going on, but I swear they’ve given her lipstick too…

  21. I agree there’s something weird going on with the armpit, and they seemed to have slimmed her down, unfortunately. But these two photos are not the same photo. It looks like the before shot they chose is a different one from the same shoot. The position of her knees (i.e. how much of her right leg you can see in the second shot) and her head and eyes indicates that we’re not comparing apples to apples.

    I know people do a lot with Photoshop these days, but the likelihood those two photos are 1:1 is very small. That said, I am sure that regardless of what the before shot truly looks like, it does not match the final printed ad.

  22. What else is incredibly wrong with this picture?

    Um. Her outfit.

    Well, y’all have covered all the other important points. And I know that the… strapless short/jumpsuit thing… is not Photoshop’s fault, but still. Can we come together as a people and agree that it is not good?

  23. Why did they even bother having her show up? They could have just used a stand in to get the pose, and then copied in other photos of her, rather than having to pay her for her time (and pay the hairdresser, makeup artist, etc.)

  24. I agree with Coco. If Jessica Alba needs to be ‘corrected’, what does that say?
    Except for of course the ‘ideal’ is unattainable.

    I think these photo editors are just comic book drawers moonlighting.

  25. Jen is correct these are not the same photo ….. if the photo on the right were to come from the photo on the left they would have had to replace way to many umm parts. Which is really easy to do .. take a leg out.. put a new one in… etc, I have a feeling this was put together from a whole lot of different pictures.

    Yes it is very easy to add boobage, remove or repaint in hair,and carve off inches from a body. However things you can not do in photoshop is get a whole new angle, though you can cut that part off and add in a new one. These two photos have very slight but easily noticeable angles if you know what you are looking for.

    There is so much wrong with the picture anyway, for one thing the lighting/shading on the background doesn’t match up with the figure. The background is a mix of different pictures… the reflection in the water is not what is above and would be reflected. The lighting on her comes from a different direction than it does the background.

    There is alot more that I can see and all in all the retouch artist did not do the best job in the world with all the mistakes, but when you are being paid by the piece and you know that chances are the ad you are working on will get probably a 30 second look at the most from most people it is easy to let things like that slip. Sometimes stuff like that is even done on purpose because while your eye may not consciously catch it, your brain does and then it will stick in the mind alot longer as your mind tries to figure out what was “off”.

    I understand touching up flyaway hair, smoothing skin, removing wrinkles, fixing levels, saturation and basically making the picture presentable I do not get butchering an image that could NOT have been bad in the first place. I just wish more people would realize what exactly we graphic artists can do with programs like photoshop so that they would realize that 99% of what they will see in the media and elsewhere can not be trusted.

  26. Dude, what IS with her left armpit?!?

    What’s crazy is that the airbrushing doesn’t make her look any “better.” She just doesn’t look REAL. Even in the “before” pic she has a body most that’s totally unrealistic for about 99% of all of humanity, but she looks human and lovely instead of all plasticized and like she’s spent some time getting stretched out on a rack.

    I mean, I don’t think we should idealize ANY particular body type, but for christ’s sake, if we have to do it can’t it at least be a HUMAN body type?!?

  27. I love how the really cool looking (in the first photo) chunky belt suddenly curves in instead of lying flat

  28. Anyone who really believes these are two different photos would do well to read this New Yorker article about master ‘Shopper Pascal Dangin. The ability to effectively remake a photo into an idealized photo is the meat and potatoes of the fashion and advertising industries.

  29. I know someone already pointed out the perkier breasts, but i wanted to add that they added volume to the top of her breasts. As we age we loose the plump volume at the top of our breasts. They have added that back in as well as given them a lift. What gets me is they extended the height of her torso, so her waist is several inches taller, and then changed her proportions completely by slimming her waist line. It makes the hour glass shape look more like a could snap in half at any minute shape.

  30. Does anyone else think she looks off-balance in the second pic, btw? By changing her body shape and knee positioning they’ve thrown off her center of gravity.

  31. Her boobs look more… video gamey? Is that a word? Not just bigger but standing at attention in a way that even a great bra cannot accomplish.


  32. I know if wishes were horses and all that – but wouldn’t it be beyond fabulous if some women’s magazine had the guts to produce an entirely photoshop-free issue? Features; fashion spreads; ads too? Can you imagine the ripples it would cause?

    Hey, a gal can dream….

  33. I’m with Dori… her knees are SHARP in the edited picture. That, and am I the only one that thinks her hair looks almost greasy after the photoshopping? It also appears that there’s some kinda fold in it. Bah. HAIR.

  34. Her right-side (to us) arm is really messed up-the angle as it goes behind the red shutter thing is impossible.

    Jessica freaking Alba isn’t good enough all on her own. Sad world we live in.

  35. I use Photoshop at work and at home. A Lot. And am an enthusiastic amateur photographer. What they very likely did is take a whole bunch of shots in burst mode (ie, about 3-6 a second for however long the camera was capable, which in high-end cameras is pretty long) and then merged and cut and pasted the ones they liked best together, maniuplating along the way, for the final image – which was then further manipulated. So the second image is even less “real” than being a manipulation of the first.

    Photoshop’s pretty amazing. You can in fact change the whole lighting look/direction, white balance, colour balance, saturation, perspective, angles – every thing about a photo can be changed especially if you start with a good shot. As well as airbrush and paint and draw and erase to your (of the advertiser’s) heart’s content. It’s extremely easy (although sometimes tiresome) to extract an object from a background and place it in a different one. Using a nice graphics tablet and pen instead of a mouse makes it even easier. Which in many cases is fun and you can create some amazing photography and artwork, but the creation and selling of completely unrealistic images promoted as “real” is the downside.

  36. Also her hair looks better in the first picture.

    …but the creation and selling of completely unrealistic images promoted as “real” is the downside.


    Particularly for the 18-40 adolescent males masquerading as adults who really do seem to think they’re real.

  37. Other people have mentioned the crotch, but I’m overwhelmed by the flatness of the photoshopped pelvis as opposed to the thighs. Imagine photoshopped Jessica Alba standing naked and straight up. She’d look like a gingerbread cookie propped un a couple of pillars.

  38. I’ve seen photoshopping ‘miracles’ like this before, but I have to say the girl in the ‘before’ picture doesn’t look much like Jessica Alba at all, face-wise. (Or wait… does that mean EVERY photo and video I have ever seen of Jessica Alba has had a different head ‘shopped onto it!?)

  39. Or wait… does that mean EVERY photo and video I have ever seen of Jessica Alba has had a different head ’shopped onto it!?

    That’s totally what I thought when I saw the first photo. I have no idea if I even know what Alba really looks like!

  40. yes very much photoshoped but I think it really could be take one and take two
    her face does not look the same and photoshoping eyes is very hard

  41. I can’t believe how many people (not just here, other sites) are saying it’s not the same photo so there’s nothing wrong. On another site someone even said it’s a different angle and sometimes we look slimmer if photo’d from a different angle, that’s all.

    I think I just need to walk away or I’m going to start hitting the monitor or something.

  42. It’s a different background. The whole image is more saturated. The only positive about the second one is that there is more distinction between the foreground (Alba) and the background. Too bad she looks angry and plastic in it.

  43. but wouldn’t it be beyond fabulous if some women’s magazine had the guts to produce an entirely photoshop-free issue?

    There was a tv ep on the BBC recently where Alesha Dixon (who is unbelievably gorgeous without any photoshoppery IMO, not that that matters) talked about the manipulation issue, had people vote on pictures of her at different stages of being ‘tweaked’ (and was mildly annoyed that the most popular seemed to be the Ridiculously Distorted Barbie Doll image) and tried to talk a magazine into doing a no-touch-ups cover photo of her.

    She did get one eventually, but most magazines wouldn’t even talk to her about it.

  44. . The position of her knees (i.e. how much of her right leg you can see in the second shot) and her head and eyes indicates that we’re not comparing apples to apples.

    I think that’s the effect of slimming her left leg. If you look at the part of her right leg that was covered in the first picture, it looks really weird… like they had to add something in after slimming her left knee left them with part of her leg that should be showing.

  45. Oh, thanks for that, SM… I wasn’t sure if the online article would have that photo, and it really says what 1000 words couldn’t.

  46. Is it just me or is that a completely different picture of her head?

    They also smoothed out the wrinkles around her crotch, god knows why. It makes it look like her thighs are, like, attached to each other.

  47. …yeah, they photoshopped a different head picture on her, and if you look, it’s at the wrong point on her neck, which makes her neck look like it’s attached wrong and also a lot shorter than it really is.

  48. (post stuck in moderation, doubtless because of external link)

    A magazine was willing to do a non-photoshopped cover, but it took some talking as I recall…

  49. I’m certainly not saying it’s “OK” that they’ve made a composite image out of at least several of Alba to make up the second one. I’m just ‘splaining what they do. It’s kind of even worse, the idea of cutting and pasting body parts like some kind of customised doll. Pasting in new backgrounds is one thing, to change from sunny pool day to dramatic evening pool (landscape photographers do it all the time – putting in “interesting” skies and such) but cutting and pasting human parts and presenting them as “natural” kind of creeps me out.

  50. Looks like they even fixed her nose. Yes…beauty means perfection right? Or, perhaps they forget that you can not airbrush the brain and most women overlook that image because we are so over exposed to mass media these days. It does their products no good at all to airbrush. I am not at all fooled by that heavenly unnatural light bouncing off of Rhiennas skin in the ads.

    What does annoy me is that it is women who are treating us like idiots. Female executives of these product lines and magazines could do better because they know better. ~~Dee

  51. Well except for the fact that these are two entirely different photos? Isn’t that just plainly obvious? She just happens to be wearing the same outfit…

    Settings are different, lighting is different completely… One is clearly outdoors and the other in a studio…or a set with completely controlled lighting.

  52. Another freaky thing– when they took away the undersides of her arms, they took the reflected light as well. Look at the highlights under her arms in the first pic, then notice how they’re gone in the second. That serves to flatten her arms into a 2D shape.

    Cree. Pee.

  53. Sorry for the double post, but OMG LOOK AT THE LAST CAMPARI PICTURE. I just clicked through. Photoshop run amok! It’s awful! Who is she, Elastigirl?

  54. Settings are different, lighting is different completely… One is clearly outdoors and the other in a studio…or a set with completely controlled lighting.

    You do know they can photoshop people in and out of different settings, right?

    One thing that reading Photoshop Disasters (which is awesome, btw) has clued me into is just how much publications try to get away with. Deleting or adding in people, changing settings, slimming people… The “disasters” are just the ones where the graphic artist didn’t do a good job — the ones we don’t notice are just as altered; they’re just more convincing.

  55. Settings are different, lighting is different completely… One is clearly outdoors and the other in a studio…or a set with completely controlled lighting.

    Yeah, they could never do that without some kind of sophisticated computer program for photo manipulation! Some kind of… shop… for photos. Man, someone should invent that.

  56. Ugh, that’s so annoying. It’s even more annoying because it’s celebrated as her ‘post-baby’ body (which looks incredible before the photo-shopping), and gives people more unrealistic expectations of what happens to a woman’s body after she’s given birth.

    There were even a few comments on the article where people said that this is what ‘curvy’ really looks like and that this is what women should look like after pregnancy instead of moaning about how they can’t get their pre-baby bodies back…and went on to talk about them eating poorly and being lazy while they were pregnant.

  57. Ok… here’s the link

    Copy and paste it, scroll through the slide show and you’ll see both photographs…and in the left one above, what you don’t see, is the actual photographer taking what appears to be light readings, or the actual fiinal shot…on the right side of the picture..

    It’s clear to a trained eye that the angles are completely different. An untrained eye wouldn’t notice the variation in angles.

    I have no doubt the final photos are touched, and retouched for the client. But those are two separate photos.

  58. DAMN!!!!
    Guess what? Womens’ bodies, whether pregnant, post-baby, or no baby, are NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I just want to take all the Hollywood producers, Madison Avenue ad execs, etc. AND KNOCK ALL THEIR HEADS TOGETHER. REPEATEDLY. Maybe that’d knock some sense into them
    Yeah. Probably not.

    These photos freak me the hell out. (Especially the eye thing-creepy!)
    They even photoshopped the pool, fer cryin’ out loud!

  59. and in the left one above, what you don’t see, is the actual photographer taking what appears to be light readings, or the actual fiinal shot…on the right side of the picture..

    Are you fucking serious? You are hilarious!

  60. tzugidan, I did go to that site and scrolled through all of the shots, including behind the scenes. Whether or not those two shots are meant to be identical or not – the first shot is still of an unimaginably gorgeous woman – the second (from the same shoot if not the exact same shot) is an airbrushed plastic MESS. I think that’s the main point.

  61. I notice they have removed both her slight smile and her crotch. Her thighs also look… mottled? In the airbrushed picture? (Which is odd… I thought having mottled thighs like mine was supposed to be a “bad” thing?)

    Oh, and her neck is shorter, beefier but simultaneously more tense. And the excessive removal of clothing folds from her stomach, combined with the removal of light and shadow from her thighs, has combined to make her look like her entire torso is being held ruler-straight.

    And the waist thinning, coupled with the reshaping of her hips, makes it look like instead of having her hips cocked out in an eye-pleasing angle (well, I like it!) she just has uneven hips.

    Also, yes, that bloody weird belt.

    Seriously, why mess with the original in the first place? I mean, personally I think any airbrushing is unnecessary, in defiance of my natural ability to ruin photos (nothing to do with my fat, I just have awful timing!), but who looks at the original picture of Jessica Alba and goes “ooh, that needs work”…

  62. Okay… now I’m just convinced. The problem with photoshop these days doesn’t even relate, directly with the idealised image society has for what women “should” look like.

    It is now simply the fact that ‘shoppers, having spent so much of their lives refining their art, no longer see photos as a whole but as a composite collection of flaws and sections. As such, they look at, say, Jessica Alba’s waist and go “ooh, no, that shadow is wrong. And there are wrinkles on the clothes… better get rid of that shadow line… okay, now it looks too flat. I’ll just add in some strategic wrinkles…” without ever thinking about the actual photo itself.

    It really is the only way to explain things like this…

    And this…

  63. Her face looks a lot narrower. The original is somewhat heart-shaped. The photoshopped version has taken the width out of her cheekbones.

    Also, her hair was originally under the influence of gravity and very thick and lush looking. The “improved” version has some area added so that silhouette doesn’t make any sense, and it’s darkened so that the 3-dimensionality is lost.

    Considering all the complaints about flattening of various body parts, I’m beginning to wonder whether the person who did the photoshopping has depth vision.

  64. tzugidan etc, I consider myself a trained eye. So do all my photographer and graphic designer buddies, who do exactly this for a living. All the photos were taken on an outdoor set. Open up Photoshop CS3, open a photo, go to Filter > Distort > Lens Correction and play with the horizontal perspective, vertical perspective, and distortion sliders. Now click Filter > Vanishing Point and create custom perspective planes for editing. Get a bunch of photos and you can stack them up and align and blend them automagically. You can combine multiple exposure levels with High Dynamic Range merging. You can change the lighting with the Lighting Effects filter. Then there’s all the vector stuff you can do (mostly in Illustrator) in addition to painting and erasing. See for some examples – none of the images shown there are photographs.

    There’s been quite a lot of discussion on some of my Flickr community groups on the fine line between what counts as a photograph, and when it becomes a photograph-based illustration.

  65. I know men’s bodies aren’t objectified *nearly* as much as women’s are, but I’d be curious to see an airbrushed comparison of a shirtless guy, assuming it exists.

  66. @Lidon – I haven’t seen any ‘shopped-topless-guy pics, but Photoshop Disasters has a horrifically ‘shopped face shot of Clive Owen. Scaaaaaaaaaaaary stuff.

  67. The thing that gets to me is how many people, on multiple sites, perceived the second version as having bigger breasts. It doesn’t. If anything, they’re a little smaller in the second photo.

    Points like you see in her top (in the right-hand version) don’t happen from large breasts filling the fabric; that tells me the top is a little loose the second time. And the second picture’s breasts don’t fill quite as much of her chest as the first, more natural version. It’s just that the photo-editor added heavy highlighting and shadows to create an artificially-obvious boundary, of the kind you never see except on recent implants under special lighting.

  68. Just thought you guys would be as amused as I to know that tzugidan, who insisted that these were different photos, has just now been banned for anti-fat trolling. Oh wait, you really are a dipshit! Here I thought you’d just never heard of Photoshop!

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