The Photoshop Effect: Fighting the Stereotypes of Body Image


Everyday we see women in the media portrayed as objects rather than real human beings.

The “Spark Movement” works to protect girls, especially women from ages 13-22, from the sexualization of women in the media. Spark trains women to be media activists and leaders in the fight against sexualization of women in the media.

In the video “Sexualization of Girls in the Media”, Spark says that every day, girls are bombarded with sexualized images from virtually every media platform.

The media plays a great role in what women try to live up to be today.

Haylee Blach, a student at the Regis Jesuit Girls Division, knows the immediate pressure of the media on high school teens.

“A lot of girls feel like they have to be perfect in every way,” Blach said.

Blach stated that the media creates this idea of a perfect woman and girls try to attain that, even if it is impossible.

“A lot of girls feel like they have to have perfect clothes and wear makeup and carry out the view of a perfect woman,” Blach said.

The media portrays women as solely sexual objects.

Anna Mantooth is a teenage girl attending Highlands Ranch High School in Colorado.  She knows firsthand what the media does to girls.

“They are shown as just objects, not real people,” Mantooth said. “They don’t get a lot of respect.”

Mantooth says that social networking is a big part in this problem of negative body image.

“Girls see images of horribly skinny girls on Instagram or Tumblr with quotes like ‘wishing I could be skinny’ or ‘hating being fat’ when they are obviously suffering from an eating disorder,” Mantooth said.

Mantooth said that women see these pictures on social media and immediately want to look like these “beautiful” women and will do anything to attain this image.  Young girls on blogs and social networks see women skinnier than them every day; skinnier women being referred to as “fat” or “too heavy”.  These young girls then want to be skinnier, or in their eyes, “prettier”, and end up contracting what could be a fatal eating disorder.

Some young people don’t realize that the models that they are trying to look like are not real, but rather just photo shopped.

In the YouTube video “The Photoshop Effect”, a woman, who at first seems very attractive, has photos taken of her that are then later analyzed by a professional photo editor.  The editor points out things that were not noticeable to the normal person, but the things he shows make the woman less and less attractive.  He then edits and fixes the problems and makes the woman virtually perfect, but the girl in the photo does not really look like the original woman, just a “look alike”.

Celebrities hire editors and will not have a picture of them released until the editor has “perfected” the photo.  Girls need to know that the pictures that they see of celebrities everyday do not really show the real women, just an edited, altered, and “perfected” version; a fake version.

Whitney Mcdonald is a Senior at Regis Jesuit Girls Division and the president of the student council. She knows the that most women in the media are not real.

“They can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that these women are not real,”  Mcdonald said.

Mcdonald knows that young girls look to these older women in the media, who are not real, and try to attain this perfect image.

“Some girls will do anything and everything to look like that, even things that are life threatening,” she said.

There are girls that will do anything to attain this imperfection and will often hurt themselves doing so.

According to a story published on (a site dedicated to educating young people about eating disorders), titled “Eating Disorders Statistics”, over 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc…), with only 10% being men.  That leaves over 21 million women suffering from an illness with a very high mortality rate.

In the month of November, Regis Jesuit Girls Division participated in Operation Beautiful. Operation Beautiful is trying to eliminate negative self-talk and encourage the fact that every woman is beautiful. The students wrote notes that encouraged this central theme.  Notes with phrases like “You’re beautiful” and “Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not gorgeous” covered the lockers, halls, and mirrors of the school ,trying to make a difference for girls.

“Many schools have picked up this confidence booster idea, we are just one of the lucky schools,” Mcdonald said.

“Everywhere we look, there are ads and expectations to look like the women on billboards, commercials, and even the Victoria Secret Fashion Show,” Mcdonald said.