Why Are We Shocked When Justin Bieber Is Photoshopped Rather Than Women?

15:26Ciaran McCormick

Justin Bieber provoked a storm on the internet with a photoshoot promoting Calvin Klein. Joining previous male models such as Mark Wahlberg, he has a full page on the website dedicated to his poses in CK underwear. They include this image where he is standing with terrible posture as he looks down confused at his underwear.



However, the story did not fizzle out into obscurity, but instead had a second wind when original photos from the shoot were leaked. Through alleged digital retouching, his muscles, chest and underwear bulge were all augmented. Even his head and hands were apparently changed in size. People responded with shock at the revelations and there was a lot of mocking delight that Bieber was not as sculpted as he appeared in the release photos.



However, the outcry over the photos is strange given that this practice is an endemic part of the media. Women that are routinely photoshopped, often without their consent or approval, are not given the same backlash. It is a problem within the media for women to be portrayed with unhealthy weights and and reproduced as sexualised objects. It is a real problem in our society, triggering body image problems and issues like eating disorders.

It is not hard to find many high-profile women that have been retouched and depicted unrealistically. For her role in King Arthur, Keira Knightley had to practice archery and generally prepare herself physically. However, this meant that she lost the chest profile that is expected of women in action movie roles. It didn't matter that she had an active role in the movie, the promotional pictures were changed to add several breast sizes to her body.



She has taken a stand against the paparazzi by posing for an unedited topless photoshoot. She told the Times:

"I think women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame. Our society is so photographic now, it becomes more difficult to see all of those different varieties of shape"
The differences between women and men in the digital alteration of photos are crucial. People may claim that it is equality for men and women to both be photoshopped to make them look more attractive and sell products. However, this ignores the disadvantages faced by women in the media. They are expected to conform to a particular model of beauty and to sell themselves based on their physical characteristics in a way that a man is never expected to. Justin Bieber will never be exposed to the same level of hyper-sexualisation faced by women participating in a photoshoot. People have reacted with a level of shock to this story because it has become normal for the media to control women's bodies to satisfy desires like they are a consumer product and strip them of ownership of their bodies.

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