I've gotten quite a bit of photo retouching work recently. It's mostly been portrait retouching: skin softening, digital nose jobs, slimming, etc. Initially, I needed some photos to practice on so I took some of myself to try the techniques on, but quickly learned that doing that was a self-esteem crisis in the making.
I've been noticing that this work is beginning to alter my idea of perfection. I've always know that magazine photos are retouched and that celebrities don't really look like that in real life, but to actually do it, to alter your OWN face, really starts to mess with your perception of beauty. I've never had a problem with my nose, but yesterday I was practicing "digital nose jobs" and I realized how much better I could look. I'll never get a nose job, double chin removal, liposuction or any of the other real-life procedures that I know the Photoshop equivalents to, but here I am staring at my own "what if" photo.
I feel so disheartened for young girls who look at magazines and see these images of photo retouched perfection and strive for that ideal. Sure, there is the Dove campaign but from what I've seen, most magazines are still primarily using highly retouched images. Despite my chosen profession, I can only wonder "what if" we had a realistic, attainable model of beauty in this country.
And for the record, I don't think Sara Palin is it.