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Perpetuate unrealistic ideals with Portrait Professional

Date: August 5, 2011 | Posted By:

Portrait Professional is anti-freckle, pro-blur.

Throughout our lives, we are constantly bombarded by false images that seek to compromise our self-esteem in order to make a profit. Imagine if this false image that you, your friends, family, or professional colleagues saw every day was of you? I recently came across software that would allow individuals to do just that.

It’s called Portrait Professional–portrait “enhancement” software that allows users to alter their faces practically beyond recognition. With features that enable users to eliminate blemishes, remove wrinkles, remove shine, reshape faces, change eye color, lip color, and size, and recolor or thicken hair.

Watching the tutorial on using Portrait Professional was bizarre for me. To begin with, they take a beautiful woman’s portrait to “enhance”. The steps include loading your picture, “choosing male or female so it knows what to do to the face to make it more attractive”, and then letting Portrait Professional use its “knowledge of human beauty” to guide you through the rest.

By the end of the tutorial, this woman, who was beautiful in her own way to begin with, was stripped of her freckles, had the placement and shape of her eyes changed, had her skin tone changed, and the shape of her face made slimmer.

On Portrait Professional’s website, they have a gallery displaying pictures that are the product of the software’s “enhancement” features. At a glance, these the people appear to be wearing a great deal of makeup in these images, but when you scroll over them to see the “before” image, you can see the stark difference. The people in these photos are devoid of what makes them human– “flaws”.

This girl doesn't actually look anything like this.

Women, men, and even children and young adults are shown altered in this gallery. What I found most troubling were the children’s altered portraits. In fact, that’s how I found out about Portrait Professional. I saw an advertisement with a split screen “before and after” of a young girl’s face.

Beforehand, she looked like a healthy, normal girl. After, she had been made to look beyond her years and unlike her real self. Her skin tone was evened, her nose was made smaller, and her lips and eyes were changed to look as though she was wearing cosmetics when she originally was not.

We know that photo-retouching exists in the media. Have we become so comfortable with this fact that we feel as though it’s what we should do to our own image? Or has the media set a precedent of “unrealistic and unattainable” as the norm?

– Meganикони на светци




What Do You Think?

5 Responses to Perpetuate unrealistic ideals with Portrait Professional

  1. Annalisa on 08-05-2011

    I really wonder what happens to the pictures if one would choose male when "enhancing" a portrait of a woman and vice versa.
  2. Amy on 08-05-2011

    The freckled woman in the first photo looks like the "before" is even retouched. And she is adorable with those freckles, and other "flaws," I would want to hang out with "before" her and not the "after" her, because the "after" her doesn't look human. Scary.

    A note about retouching though - my wedding photographer touched up my bridal portrait. He removed the acne but left my acne scars, freckles, wrinkles, moles, and texture changes. He didn't make me tan or younger, or plump my lips or add eyeliner. He left the flyaways on my hair. How do you feel about this kind of retouching? I like my photo because it looks like me, just no zits on my back. Is that so bad, or is it a slippery slope?
  3. Janie on 08-08-2011

    The woman in the photo looks fabulous with those freckles. The "retouching" makes her look like she's made of wax.
  4. Denise on 08-20-2011

    @Annalisa - Funny idea! Yeah yeah dude looks like a lady!
    Seriously - Anyone ever read "The Stepford Wives"? This is what this reminds me of - creeeeepy!!!! YesIamaperfectbarbiedollnothumanidonothaveanythoughtsofmyowntellmewhattodoiamabrainlessdronebutiamprettylikesocietywantsmetobewhatisyourwishmymastersiamwillingtoobeyyessss.....(roboticized clone breaks down) And by the way, ladies, this is what they want for us - the perfect woman = the department store mannequin.
  5. MM on 08-30-2011

    My brother had his college graduation pictures retouched (not intentionally, they did it for everyone) and I honestly hate the pictures because they're creepy as hell, a 20-something dude isn't supposed to have skin like a baby. My problem with photoshop is that the ideal is really not human, it's so smooth and shiny it looks like plastic.