The trouble with using Photoshop


Photos have leaked of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign, but they’re not the flawless, Donatella-esque images we’ve all seen. Rather, they’re the un-photoshopped versions, and the results are a little jarring.

While Gaga looks streamlined and airbrushed in the published images, she looks undoubtedly more realistic in the non-retouched pictures. She sports no makeup, chapped lips and bruises on her legs.

Target's photoshop fail to create a thigh gap (Source:

Target’s photoshop fail to create a thigh gap (Source:

Gaga's Versace campaign, unretouched (Source:

Gaga’s Versace campaign, unretouched (Source:

The perfection of the image goes against Gaga’s mantra of “Born this Way,” which celebrates the beauty in imperfection. Many publications, though, continue to Photoshop their images to obscene amounts.

Target recently put up an image on their website of a bathing suit model who has a rather rectangular area missing from her upper thigh. This was a Photoshop mishap that was created in order to give the model a “thigh gap.”

Multiple other Photoshop fails have occurred, and many are those which were created to achieve a skinner look for the models.

The heavy-handed Photoshopping of already thin models has given rise to the obsession with being thin and having a thigh gap. Tumblr, a social media blog site, has also contributed to the thigh gap obsession, as many girls reblog and post images of skeletal looking girls with the hashtag “thigh gap” and “thinspo” or thinspiration.

The problem has gotten so real that now when you search thigh gap on tumblr, a message comes up entitled, “Everything okay?” that gives numbers to eating disorder help centers.

As a mode of activism, American Eagle’s lingerie line, aerie, launched their #aerieReal Campaign, in which they vow to use real girl models of all sizes who are not retouched by Photoshop. It is such a change to see images on the computer screen that are not the idealized female form.

While I appreciate the use of real girls, I do have to say that it is better to view clothes on a more perfected image. Yet there is a difference between a little tweak here and there, and a complete disregard for humanness. Publications and companies should use Photoshop with a lighter hand.

Over-sexualization of magazine covers


The May issue of Golf Digest magazine is garnering some serious press attention, due to its unlikely cover star. Instead of featuring an actual golfer, it instead has Maxim model and Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina, on the cover. The model poses seductively with a golf club and is wearing curve-hugging white spandex pants and a sports bra.

Paulina Gretzky on the cover of Golf Digest  (Source: huffingtonpost)

Paulina Gretzky on the cover of Golf Digest (Source: huffingtonpost)

Clearly, Golf Digest is banking on the advertising technique of “sex sells.” But the cover has LPGA golfers up in arms. LGPA pro Angela Stanford says, “Nobody can argue with [the fact that sex sells]. It’s just the way it is. But the LPGA has some attractive women and very fit women, so why not use them? I’m just baffled by it.” Stacy Lewis, a two-time LPGA Champion stated, “Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”

The last time Golf Digest featured a LPGA player on their cover was in 2008. Since then, the only other women who have been featured on the cover have been Kate Upton and Holly Sonders, a Golf Channel anchor.

Many magazines and news outlets stray from their topic and use sex to sell. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is a prime example of that. What do bikini clad women have to do with sports?

The use of using sex to sell is an element that relates to the greater issue of the over-sexualization of women. Putting a scantily clad female on a magazine cover versus one who is well-clothed will sell more issues, but is the feature story going to be as intriguing?

Which would sell more? An issue of Golf Digest with an overweight PGA player on its cover or a Maxim model? The editors at the magazine asked this question and clearly, came up with their answer. Yet, does an avid golfer, someone who would be reading and purchasing Golf Digest want to hear about how Paulina Gretzky missed the ball completely at her dad’s golf tournament or would they rather hear tips from an actual PGA pro?

Photographer CyCyr's mocking of Paulina's cover using men. source: huffingtonpost

Photographer CyCyr’s mocking of Paulina’s cover using men (Source: huffingtonpost).

While sex may sell covers, it certainly doesn’t garner respect for a publication.

A photographer named CyCyr even mocked the Golf Digest by posting a series of photos of men dressed in the same revealing outfit Gretzky wore on the cover. The results are a perfect commentary on the ridiculousness of over-sexualizing a woman on a men’s magazine cover.

Magazines should stick to their target readers versus using quick, “easy” tactics to sell issues. That’s the way publications earn respect. Vogue, for example, is the most respected fashion magazine in the world. But then again, they did just put Kim Kardashain on the cover.

Race: Is it ‘trendy’?


Those in the African-American community were outraged on Wednesday when Marie Claire tweeted a picture of Kendall Jenner and her “bold braids” that are “new epic.” The braids were actually a bit of cornrows on the side of Jenner’s head. Many felt offended by the choice of words Marie Claire chose to caption the tweet.

Twitter user @ohitsbarbara tweeted “Why don’t you go to an elementary school with black girls & tell me once again how Kendall Jenner started cornrows as a trend? @marieclaire.” This is just an example of how the fashion world culturally appropriates a lot of the trends that are out there these days. It’s hard to discern what is artistic license from what is possibly racially offensive.

The Cornrows that sparked the Outrage. Source: @marieclaire Twitter

The Cornrows that sparked the Outrage. Source: @marieclaire Twitter

A lot of Halloween costumes often garner criticism for their offensive titles. For example, a wig that is a bit afro like was entitled “Ghetto Fab.”

This, once again, offended the African-American community and rightfully so. It is not trendy to be a certain race or acquire their fashion or beauty tastes. And it is especially offensive when the labeling reflects racial stereotypes.

The media, like Marie Claire magazine, should take more note of how they label their photos and should discern whether the trends they feature and promote as “cool” in their magazine, online, or on their twitter are in good taste or not.

MH 370 and insensitivity of news media


The news has been abuzz with updates on the mystery of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, Flight MH 370, yet as the story of the crash starts to piece together, it seems as though the feelings of the families involved are being neglected.

As the families were notified of the death of everyone aboard via SMS message, (something that would have never been done in the past), photos were snapped of the grief those related to the people on the flight felt upon receiving the news.

Heart-wrenching details, such as a woman collapsing, screaming “My son! My son!” and another woman who had to be taken off on a stretcher from the immense feeling of grief are all featured in the news. Many people urged the press not to photograph or film them, with one man even threatening a cameraman by saying “Don’t film. I’ll beat you to death!”

During a time of extreme sadness and tragedy, privacy is of the utmost importance. Yet, the press always sees the need to document every moment, especially when a story such as this one is such a hot-ticket item.

So is the press over stepping its boundaries? In this case, I believe so. It does no justice to the story to document photos and videos of the family members of those on the flight in fits of hysteria due to grief. Would you want photos taken of you upon receiving news about a death in the family?

Also, for the family members to find out about the absolute death of everyone aboard via SMS message is a tad insensitive. It’s considered rude to break up with someone over text these days, so for the Malaysian prime minister to notify the families of the death of their loved ones is a testament to the disrespect the media has over the entire situation.

The coverage of this flight tragedy has been largely publicized and laden with extremities. Many conspiracy theories have swirled about, and jokes have even been made about the mysterious nature of it all. Now that the British satellites are starting to uncover the mystery of the crash, I believe focus should be placed on the crash itself and less on the families. They deserve respect in this time of tragedy.

No such thing as bad press?


To be talked about in the news media is something many people actively seek.

Coverage in any form of media means that you’re relevant and people care enough to publish a story about you in hopes that people will be equally as intrigued. It has become a trend in Hollywood to strive for media coverage.

Celebrities will often stage paparazzi pictures when they’re looking good or want to be seen so they can land themselves in a tabloid, and some even sell stories about themselves to the gossip magazines. You’d think that celebrities would want the stories about themselves to be image-boosting and positive, but that is not always the case.

Recently, an image of a Scattergories paper filled with the names of Lindsey Lohan’s supposed sexual partners, her “little black book” of sorts, has leaked with InTouch Weekly owning exclusive rights to it. Many questions have swirled around the leaking of this list, as  its leak coincidentally ties to the premiere of Lohan’s new reality show on the OWN network.

The list is certainly juicy, and it has Twitter, Facebook, and all the news sources, including more “serious” publications such as Fox News and the New York Daily News, abuzz. But is the list real? Or is it just an attempt to bring Lohan back into the spotlight?

It is unethical in media law to publish false information, and doing so can contribute to the crime of defamation. In the case of the Lohan List situation, no comments have come from either Lohan or her representatives, so either she is keeping mum on the situation because she is enjoying this burst of media attention or because she is behind the “leak” of the list after all.

The story behind the retrieval of the list should also be considered in regards to legitimacy. The actress supposedly crafted the list during an alcohol-infused night out with friends at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Jan. 30. She then, according to sources, “tossed the list aside.” Something as intimate as a “conquest list” is not something you just toss aside, as the names on it include a lot of powerful, rich and, for some, married men.

Lindsey's "Conquest List." Note the misspelled "Zack Effron." (Source- InTouch Weekly).

Lindsey’s “Conquest List.” Note the misspelled “Zack Effron.” (Source- InTouch Weekly).

Also, InTouch first released the list with a majority of the names blurred out.

Just recently did they uncover some of the blurred names, and still a few remain hidden. This will insure that the story has staying power, as people will want to wait and see who the still-uncovered names are.

Among the names on the list are recently engaged Ashton Kutcher, deceased Heath Ledger, New York Rangers hockey player Aaron Voros and Oscar-nominated James Franco.

While it’s possible the acquisition and legitimacy of the list is true, it seems to me as a classic case of “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” on part of Lohan. Either way, it worked and everyone’s back to talking about Lindsay. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Does God live in Hollywood?


The Oscars this past Sunday had it all: a pizza party, Meryl Streep and Pharell dancing, a record breaking selfie and, of course, many memorable acceptance speeches.

There was Jared Leto, whose heart-touching speech thanked his mom, acknowledged the tragedy in Venezuela and Ukraine, and was dedicated to the millions of people around the world with AIDs. Lupita Nyong’o made her speech all about following your dreams, saying, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” And of course, most every actor who accepted an award thanked their directors, fellow co-stars, and producers.

But this year, a common figure to thank in Oscar acceptance speeches was missing–God. It seems as though, in years past, the first person an award winner would thank would be God or Jesus. The only individual to mention God in their speech this year was the quintessential southern christian boy, Matthew McConaughey.

He did not just briefly mention God’s name either. McConaughey stated, “I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my end or any other human end. He has shown me that it is a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. When you’ve got God, you’ve got a friend.”

Many people responded negatively to McConaughey’s religious devotion in his speech. Tweets like, “Shhh McConaughey stop talking about god you’re ruining it” (@astral_cars) and “When did Matthew McConaughey turn into Joel Osteen?” (@LaineyGossip) swirled about the “Twittersphere” during and after his speech. Even the audience in attendance did not respond too warmly to the God part of McConaughey’s speech, as there was timid applause in comparison to when McConaughey mentioned his dad in heaven and even quoted Dazed and Confused, McConaughey’s first major role, with “Alright, Alright Alright.”

Hollywood has always been seen as a more liberal land, with more libertarian views rather than the conservative. Strong religious views have been mocked and practicing religion is often seen as an ultra conservative activity in Hollywood, versus atheism or not practicing or declaring a religion at all. Hollywood is becoming very secular.

McConaughey’s breakaway from secularization and the negative response he received because of it is proof of the lessening presence of faith in our modern society. We treat those who are religious as the minority now, even “jesus freaks.” It’s just not “cool” or “hip” to be religious.

Maybe McConaughey, with his southern drawl, drug past, beautiful wife and shiny new award will change Hollywood’s perception of religion and mentioning God in a speech will draw actual applause rather than backlash.

Dangers of life in the fast lane


A Grammy-award winning photographer, Ian Cuttler Sala, was killed on Sunday as the passenger of a car crash with Salma Hayek’s brother, Sami Hayek. Hayek, who was driving the 2006 Ford GT, survived the crash with facial lacerations and broken ribs. Sala and Hayek collided with a pickup truck driven by 20-year-old Alvin Javier Gomez, who suffered only minor injuries including a broken foot.

Police believe that the crash was caused by Hayek’s inability to handle the vehicle, which can reach an upwards of 205 mph. This crash marks the second deadly car accident in which the passenger, rather than the driver of the vehicle, has died. The first notable accident was the death of “Fast and Furious” movie series star Paul Walker back in November. Both in this case and Walker’s, no alcohol or drugs were involved in the accidents.

It’s become ingrained in American culture to worship fast cars. The luxury sports car market is one of male adoration, and they’re often used as a status symbol. Movies such as the Fast and Furious series, which garnered a cult fan base and amassed millions of dollars in the box office are a testament to America’s obsession with sports vehicles. Many popular video games also feature the “thrill” of driving fast cars. More points are rewarded if you drive fast, and often, destructively.

Unfortunately, the movies and video games don’t show the destruction that can amount from driving too fast. Justin Bieber tested his luck when he tried drag racing in a sports car in Miami Beach not too long ago and it amounted in an arrest. His fate was much better than that of Walker and Sala, who paid for the thrill of driving a fast sports car with the ultimate price — their lives.

While luxury sports cars provide nice eye candy, it should be noted that their fast nature should not be taken advantage of, and should be left to experts. Like many things in Hollywood, everything is not as it seems, and while it seems exhilarating to drive sports vehicles extremely fast, it is a dangerous activity that can have severe consequences.

Hopefully, news coverage of the deaths of Sala and Walker will bring attention to this growing issue. In the age of texting-while-driving, and driving while intoxicated, another danger on the road is the last thing we need.

Celebrity weight: Is it news?


There is usually a separation between “real” news and tabloid news, but in the age of online journalism, the two previously separated genres often rub shoulders. A look at the home page of Yahoo! or the Daily Mail will show a political story or a piece on uprisings in Kiev next to an article about Kim Kardashian’s derriere.

The Kardashians are a staple in American pop culture. Kim continues to be one of the most searched celebrities year after year, and the whole family’s every move is scrutinized and reported on by the media.

One of the examples of a magazine cover bashing Kim’s weight gain- something normal for people who are pregnant. Source:

While some things seem worth reporting on; her engagement to Kanye West and subsequent wedding plans being one, Kim’s weight and body shape don’t seem to be as newsworthy.

Still, multiple articles have been written about her fluctuating body. During her pregnancy, the media had a frenzy criticizing how Kim’s once toned and voluptuous figure had taken a turn towards the chunkier size.

In fact, entire magazine covers have been devoted to slamming Kim’s weight gain. One headline from the South African magazine You read “Kate the Waif vs. Kim the Whale,” (“Kate” referring to Kate Middleton, who was similarly tortured for being too skinny while pregnant.)

Now that her pregnancy is over, the news has switched from her weight gain to her rapid baby-weight loss. Kim’s back to gracing the tabloid covers, but the same amount of criticism remains. A Life and Style cover claims Kim is a “Weight Loss Cheater” who “took the easy way out with $80,000 worth of secret procedures,” and an article from the Daily Mail reports that Kim has had “fat injected into her bottom” that was taken from her stomach and thighs.

Kim, like many other celebrities, cannot catch a break when it comes to their own bodies. Body shape, and weight gain/loss is a very personal matter, and I do not believe that it is quite newsworthy. The way that media, across all platforms, exploits celebrities’ bodies for the sake of a story is despicable, as it promotes self-hatred and encourages body shaming.

Celebrities are people too, and do not deserve the amount exposure they receive for their weight. How would you feel if every time you gained a pound it was deemed “news” and reported on across the country? Out of all the the things to make news out of in terms of celebrities, I do not think weight should be one of them.

Sports equality: Gay athletes in sports


It seems as though we are living in the “Age of Equality.” Gay marriage is being passed in many new states and countries, and more and more celebrities are embracing a “don’t hide who you truly are” attitude.

It’s cool now to be out of the closet and most of the world, in this progressive Age of Equality, is accepting of those who choose to announce to the world their sexual orientation.Yet while Hollywood has embraced ‘coming out,’ one sector of pop culture seems to be still hidden deep in the closet and less accepting of gays — the world of sports.

Seen as a testament to one’s manhood that dates back to the testosterone-heavy first-ever Olympic Games, sports are often a sign of heterosexuality. It’s a common misunderstanding that a boy involved in sports can’t be gay, which is why many parents suspecting of the sexual orientation of their sons feel that the “cure” is sports like football.

With the recent announcement of Micheal Sam, a young NFL prospect hailing from the University of Missouri who came out as gay, the sporting world has been in shock. Not often does a football player shed his macho image and come forward about his sexual orientation. He stated, “I am an openly proud gay man,” in a New York Times piece, but his teammates have known since August. If Sam is drafted and earns a spot on a team roster, he will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Still, eight NFL staff and coaches that were polled by Sports Illustrated believe that Sam will drop in the draft due to his announcement. Backlash isn’t uncommon for gay athletes. Tweets often contained strong language. Two examples: “So, message to Michael Sam and those like him: Nobody wants to hear about a man who likes to suck cock. Get back in the fucking closet” (@icanhasbailout) and “Michael Sam first openly gay athlete in the NFL??? that’s freaking disgusting!!!!!! should be kicked out if the NFL and the USA” (greyclark24).

Sam’s announcement is coming off the heels of British diver Tom Daley’s coming out, which he did via a YouTube video a few months ago. The Olympian was shown massive support, which could be due to the fact that diving is seen as a “gay” sport versus the masculinity of football. Another sport that is often labelled as “gay” is men’s figure skating. Still, American men’s figure skaters are encouraged to not announce their sexual orientation for the purpose of appealing to the American public and judges.

This fear of being gay in sports is something that should not exist in the coming years. Sexual orientation does not change the athleticism of great athletes, nor does it diminish their accomplishments. For this year’s Olympics in Sochi, where being a gay athlete is abhorred, the world’s athletes responded with the utmost support for LGBTQ rights. Germany walked in the opening ceremony wearing rainbow snowsuits, Greece’s athletes had rainbow fingertips on their gloves, and Blake Skejellerup, an openly gay New Zealand speed skater, wore a rainbow pin.

With the bravery of both Michael Sam and Tom Daley, hopefully more athletes will feel safe coming out of the closet and the Sochi Olympics will open the eyes of the world, especially Russia, that discrimination of gay athletes is not something to be tolerated in our ever evolving world.

Hollywood drug abuse and news media


They say death comes in threes and, after the recent celebrity deaths of Cory Monteith and Paul Walker, the loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman this past Sunday rounds out the long-believed superstition.

Out of the three high-profile deaths, two were from drug use and overdose. Walker’s was the only true accidental death, as it involved a fatal car accident where Walker wasn’t even the one behind the wheel. Yet the news media portrayed all three deaths as equally tragic.

There’s a difference between accidental tragedy and tragedy brought on by drugs, though. The news media posted articles that outlined the slew of drugs found in both Monteith and Hoffman’s bodies, but did little to comment on the root of the problem–the oft-hidden and personal struggle that comes along with drug abuse.

More and more stars are dying from drug related deaths these days and, often enough, these deaths come as a shock. Not many suspect that A-list Hollywood stars would fall victim to the same drugs that can be easily obtained by college students, people on the streets; quite frankly, anybody.  Moreover, they don’t suspect that these stars who seem so happy and well-off on the outside are coping with inner demons to turn to drugs in the first place.

Monteith serves as a prime example of the façade celebrities can put up to the public to seem happy: he had a loving, steady girlfriend in Lea Michele, his costar on the successful and still running TV show Glee, and remained an active member in his charity Project Limelight.  His death shocked many of the young fans of Glee, and should serve as a lesson to the impressionable youth that meddling with drugs, for whatever the reason, can result in an untimely and yes, tragic death.

Instead of merely listing the toxicology report of stars who die drug related deaths, the news media should focus on transforming the deaths into a wake-up call for how society deals with drug abuse and addiction. Both Monteith and Hoffman admitted in earlier interviews of struggling with addiction on and off from a very young age. Who knows how many young starlets there are right now who are secretly struggling with addition? What would be even more beneficial than an exposé on the dangers of drug use would be an open discussion of how to cope with addiction and insight into how to recover from the disease.

Kids are taught from a young age that “drugs are bad” yet it does not stop them, or high profile celebrities, from using them. For every story about a celeb in rehab, there should be another about stars speaking out against drug abuse, or doing charity work, or enjoying sober life. Society often looks up to the Hollywood elite and, if emphasis is placed on their healthy habits, or alternatively, their morph from addiction to a state of mental and physical well being, as is the case with Demi Lovato, perhaps many drug deaths can be prevented in the future.