A few days ago I was reading the news and saw one of those links similar to "stars without the makeup" slideshows. Because apparently, we all need to see celebs without their makeup so that we can all get on with our lives. I have to confess though, I do click them once in a while just to see the comments the site puts with the "before" pictures. They're usually very kind and full of honey, such as "atrocious" and "needs some time in the sun". It's amazing to me how many times I've seen nasty remarks about fresh-washed-face celebrities, especially when much of the time they actually look like regular, everyday folks, without the glam. This one was a little different though because it was a slide show of celebrities who's photos were totally made over in photoshop to make them look flawless.
Seeing this, I was inspired me to do a little experiment of my own using my own face! Now all I have is the basic photoshop elements, nothing at all like what the magazine editors require for their glitzy publications, I'm sure, but it worked out okay anyway. So, here's what I did:
No scrolling ahead or you'll be cheating. Just follow through with me as I explain step-by-step how you too, can be a photoshop fake. Okay? Here we go:
Step 1. Don't put on any makeup (like me, who almost never wears it) and go outside in the natural light and get a selfie of your face. Yes, this is what I look like almost every day. No makeup, t-shirt, crazy hair pulled back in a pony-tail. Now, when you get your selfie, don't edit it AT ALL except maybe to resize it. Leave it exactly as it is so it's really the real, real you.
Step 2. Open in photoshop. Using a tiny eraser brush, zoom in and remove every single wrinkle. You probably know your face better than anyone so you can start wherever you like, but I started at the forehead and worked my way down my face. I don't have a ton of wrinkles but I have them like anyone else my age so I *poofed* and they were all gone. I also saved myself a ridiculous amount of money on anti-aging creams. Remember the key here is to be SUBTLE, using small brushes and teeny tiny edits so you don't end up looking like plastic-face.
Step 3. Using the same brush, wipe out all the moles. Or pimples, dark spots, red spots, purple spots or whatever color your spots are. This is critical because the fake you, just like the fake magazine cover models do NOT have any spots or pimples or moles. Unless you're Cindy Crawford but you're not, so you can't have moles. Get rid of all of them. More *poof* (remember, subtle, small brush)
Step 4. Now this is the tricky part. Find the one feature on your face that you dislike the most and fix it. Bonus: no anesthesia, surgical procedures, recovery time or outrageous costs. The downside is, you can't actually walk around with the fixed feature on your face, unless when you're done, you print out the photo and tape it to your head. Odds are however, most people will be able to pick up on it right away, that this isn't really you. You decide if you think you can pull it off, and if you think you can, more power to you.
For me, the feature I dislike the most is my right eye lid. It droops down and actually impairs my vision and I dislike it more for that, than for the way it looks, really. I mean, I've never actually had someone walk up to me and say "hey, your eyelid is freaking me out man, you need to do something about that" so I suspect I notice it far more than anyone else does. On the other hand, I have in fact (for years, and years) had people ask me why I'm mad or why I gave them or someone else a dirty look when in fact I didn't or I'm not. They assume that because I have a Grumpy Cat mouth that naturally turns down at the corners and makes me look like I'm scowling or mad, when I'm not. It totally works for the cat, but not so much for me so with the smudge tool I nudged it up a little on both sides and gave myself a wee touch of color with the burn tool. Just a wee touch. And just a wee nudge too. Too much and I would have looked like Heath Ledger as the Joker.
Step 5. Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed! Okay, if you have a tail, ignore all these steps and report straight to the surgeon's office, as photoshop cannot help you. However, if you really want to look younger and skinny like a model, bright eyes are the way to go. It's true, go to google and type in "bright eyes make you look" and see what auto-fills in there. Google knows stuff. So make your eyes stand out by giving yourself a little subtle eyeliner & eyebrow liner with the burn tool (remember, teeny weenie brushes or you'll end up looking like Alice Cooper and really, I don't know anyone that wants to look like that, on purpose, do you?), then use the dodge tool to brighten the whites of your eyes. Use the burn tool again after, to really make your irises stand out. Because outstanding irises are critical to getting that whole "young and skinny like a model" thing going on. Okay now, here's the last step:
Step 6. Using the filter option on the entire picture, reduce the "noise" because you're probably pretty noisy. Be careful though, because if you reduce too much noise you'll look like your skin is made out of silly putty. Literally. Play around with it until you have that "oh, look at the soft, pretty, youthful looking skin that I don't really have in real life but do now, with photoshop" look. You'll get there, just play around with it.
You probably can't see a huge difference in the film-strip graphic I posted there, and that's sort of the point. Only because I knew exactly what I did in each picture can I see the difference but I was intentionally subtle so that it wasn't too obvious with each step. I didn't look at the before/after pictures side by side until I was all done:
And that's when I lol'd for real. Outloud. Sitting here all alone except for the cat (who already knows I'm a little weird anyway, so it didn't really matter). You can click that if you like and see the full sized real me/fake me. What made me laugh is that while there isn't really that much of a difference (and that's partly because really glamming it out the way they do for magazines was just too much for me - the "total glam" version would have really made you laugh too) this is the kind of fake picture you see online and in print all the time and you probably don't even realize it until you see the unedited version, like in those slide shows plastered all over the net. I witnessed this first hand once, when at LAX I ran into a celebrity who had a hit show on prime time tv. On the show she was gorgeous, but in real life, she had very unhealthy looking skin, and a mustache. It wasn't a subtle girl-stache either, it was pretty manly. And, her hair did NOT shine. Not even a little bit. I was honestly rather shocked to know how much fakey-fakeness even tv cameras can pull off. If someone didn't know me, or never saw me in person, I could easily doctor a pic and post it as "me" and have everyone think that really is me. Unfortunately if they met me in real life they'd go "whoa, who ate your face?" I do have that pouty mouth. I do not have eyebrows, and I have wrinkles and moles and spots and bags under my eyes.
Now I admit, it would be nice to roll out of bed in the morning being all bright-eyed and non-Grumpy Cat mouthed but hey, that's not going to happen. I'm actually pretty okay with the way I look most of the time, and the fact that I'm generally too lazy to even put make up on before I leave the house to run errands, proves it (not to mention the fact that I plastered my "before" face for the world to see, lol).
So the moral of the story is this: don't waste your time photoshopping your face. Not only is it not really you, but you probably look just fine the way you are. No, you're not a magazine cover girl but guess what? Neither are they, without the tons of make-up and hours of photoshop airbrushing. Without all that, most of those celebs look like regular, ordinary, every day folk. Just like you, and just like me. If you don't believe me, just google it for yourself and take a few minutes to look at some of those slide shows.
The illusion of "beauty" and the standard in our culture, is 100% fake. Just like my face in the after pic.