So in the crazy, sick world we live in, we are victim to so much bullsh*t on social media. We already know people use Facetune, Photoshop, and bizarre leg extending apps to alter their appearance for media, social and otherwise. So while I love to find all the nitpicky errors in a photo that give away the editing going on, a decent photo edit wouldn’t have any obvious problems. You’re not supposed to leave tracks. The really good editors are straight-up doing witchcraft. However, I can still usually tell when a photo has been altered, because I have a knowledge of human anatomy. I’ve studied fine art, digital art, and animation for most of my life, and have degrees in all three. When you’re drawing or painting people, especially if you’re going to be making them move, you have to know what they’re supposed to look like. Because of this, I can totally tell when photos have been spliced up or especially stretched, just because that’s not how those body parts work.
So I thought I’d show you some of the most basic anatomy principles you should know. This way, if you suspect a photo has been altered, you can check basic proportion rules and see for yourself. Keep in mind, these rules are averages, meaning most people will not hit them exactly, but they should come close. It also applies to all races and ethnicities. For example, the average U.S. female height is 5’5″, but the average Filipino female is 5′. Since the proportion rules are based on your own body parts, the rules for height, which I’ll show you in a second, will still apply. Some people have longer torsos, are short, stunted their growth, got a nose job, have bigger eyes, etc. and that’s totally okay. But if you suspect Facetune and the basic proportions are not even close to what you’re seeing, then you’ll know for sure. Also, perspective plays a role, meaning how close things are to the camera. So like, if you see giant feet in the photo, if the feet were right up to the camera, that would be realistic. But if they’re not, and HUGE beyond reason, that gives away the editing. Let me show you what I mean.
Here’s an easy way to check if someone has stretched themselves in a photo, which is insanely common, especially lately. Stretching makes you appear taller and thinner. People have been particularly stretching out their legs. So, a basic rule for finding the accurate height of someone (again, based on averages), is that however big their head is, their body should be 7-8 of those head sizes. That sounds super confusing, but let me just show you with some fun drawings.
In the above totally gorg pic of Gigi and Bella, I tried out my height/head rule. Now it’s funny, because they’re both superhumanly tall, and the average proportion trick still works for them.
Here is *roughly* the size of Gigi’s head:
The basic rule is that her entire body should be 7 to 8 of those circles. Now, she’s in heels so she’s throwing us off a little.
But it still works:
Gigi is almost 8 heads tall even with the heels. Now, it doesn’t apply to absolutely everyone, but we’re going off averages. So if they’re 6.5 heads tall, it’s believable portions. If they’re 10 heads tall, I’m gonna say no, that has been altered. Make sense? It even works for Bella.
Bella, in this photo, is 7.5 heads tall. Perfectly average. She’s also not standing up straight, but you get the idea. Now, this doesn’t mean the photo wasn’t altered at all. They could have squished in their waists or whatever. But they did not appear to have stretched their heights or made themselves taller. Also? Why would they, they’re like, 100 feet tall to begin with? But I used them as the example for this because they are super tall and thin and have the longest legs imaginable, and the rule still works for them. So, you can’t say some 14-head-tall influencer just has long legs. It doesn’t work that way.
There are a lot of proportion rules that go into getting someone’s face right. I’m going to show you a basic one that I see as an issue all the time. Here’s how to check if someone has Facetuned/airbrushed the sh*t out of their nose. Much like the height proportions, noses usually follow a basic guideline too. Basically, when looking straight on, the sides of your nose base should line up with the start of your brows (or where the thickest part of your natural eyebrows starts), and the nostrils should line up with the inner corner of your eyes. If you’ve had a nose job, this will probably still work because plastic surgeons use this too as a way to gauge how off “average” your nose is. Like, if you have a really big nose, you can be way outside the average. You can also use this to figure out where your eyebrows are supposed to start. If they don’t line up with your nose base, you’re probably overplucking.
Kim K’s Vogue cover was definitely edited, but not so poorly that they diminished or destroyed her nose. She also definitely had a nose job, but the rule still applies. When left to her own devices, however…
We can see what Kim thinks noses are supposed to look like. Honey, no. Imagine paying for a nose job and still needing to do this in every photo. It also looks like she enlarged her eyes, making them further apart on her head. Which just proves our point even more. This is why basic anatomy is helpful.
I complain A LOT about people making themselves too thin and having waists/hips that could not possible hold organs or rib cages. So how do you know how big these things are supposed to be MINIMUM? Let’s go back to Gigi. She has a minimal amount of body fat so you can see it clearly.
So. Your pelvis should be around Circle 4. Gigi’s is perfectly. Bella’s basically is too. And in basic anatomy, your pelvis—meaning the actual bone structure without fat—is at least 1.5-2 head widths.
And even as thin as Gigi is, she fits it perfectly:
Again, this is just a bone structure thing for the absolute minimum. When you consider fat and muscle, most people have wider hips than this. That’s totally cool. It’s when people have hips that are 1 head width, I am completely suspicious. Now, Gigi’s legs are elongated because of the heels and, well, long-legged genes, obviously. But basic rules tell us that your knees should be around Circle 6.
Gigi still fits perfectly. To compare?
Ciara is NOT EVEN CLOSE.
To be fair, though, these proportions are for someone standing straight on, and she’s lying back, so the perspective is warped, AND her legs are bent. But still! She’s 10 heads tall and her knees are on her calves. I didn’t even need to see the 2.5 head length feet to know this was very badly altered. She’s nowhere near the average.
And now the ribs. The rule for the rib cage is that it starts somewhere between Circles 1-2, and goes about halfway into Circle 3. You’re supposed to draw an oval and cut it in half, like so. It’s also supposed to be roughly the width of the pelvis (at the minimum).
As we can see, although the rib cage is in the correct place in terms of height, it’s smaller than average. Does this mean it was edited to make her waist smaller? Not necessarily. She is a supermodel, and the proportion is very close. It’s still believable to me that due to her small frame and low body fat, this photo could be unedited. (I’m also going to say it probably is edited, but that’s because I have zero faith in celebrities.) But when you see these girls with these teensy little waists and hourglass proportions, now you can check to see if her rib cage could still fit. It’s supposed to be halfway through that third circle. If it’s not even close, then you know that photo has been altered.
Were these tips helpful? I don’t expect you to go out and measure every photo, but at least you know can kind of eyeball it and see if they’re at least close to basic proportions. Keep in mind that these are the average and minimum estimates. People will definitely vary slightly. These are also not ideal proportions, it’s just a jumping off point before you count in body fat, muscle, genes, etc. But it will help you for people that try to make themselves scary skinny, stick legged, with no organs, and no noses. Seriously, why is that in style right now? Who would have ever thought that Jack Skellington was the true beacon of female sexuality?
If you want to learn more about basic anatomy, here’s a helpful little guide. Have you ever heard these proportion rules before? How can you tell when someone’s been editing their photos if there isn’t anything obviously wrong?
Images: Instagram (@gigihadid) (@kimkardashian) (2) (@ciara); Giphy
In this world of Photoshop, Facetune, scary stilt legs, and eyes that take up half of the face, Instagram is a scary place to be. We thought it was bad when women were all expected to be a size zero, but now, you’re not even allowed to have essential organs to be beautiful. Celebrities and influencers get to take the guilt for the ridiculous social media standard we’ve come to—they determine what we look up to and should look like. They suck at their huge responsibility. However, there are a few celebs that I follow that consistently show they are real people, not cyborgs. In fact, I actually had trouble limiting this list down, which was a nice surprise.
This is not to say the celebs on this list don’t edit their photos—I’m sure they do. But they at least do it in a more normal way—and not by removing huge chunks of their body or airbrushing their nose into oblivion. If following these accounts doesn’t make you feel better, I highly recommend doing what I do: mostly follow puppies and art. It’s way better.
1. Kristen Bell
Is there anyone more adorable and pure than Kristen Bell? She’s had a stellar reputation for all her years in Hollywood, and that is saying a lot. Her Instagram is very much that of a real person and working mom. She often posts herself without glam or makeup, photos of her kids and pets, and inspiring quotes or causes she’s involved in. She even puts up parenting mishaps to show it happens to everyone. She always has all her body parts and her eyes are a normal size in every single photo, too.
2. Rachel Bloom
If you don’t know who Rachel Bloom is, she’s the creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (RIP), and a genius renaissance women. She can write, sing, act, she’s funny AF, AND she’s a huge advocate for mental health. She also is super real, both on social media and her show. I mean, the show had songs about the nightmare it is for women to get ready (f*ck Spanx) and the inconvenience of having boobs. There was even one about UTIs. She posts about all aspects of her life, like this super real plane selfie. Seriously, why are celebs always leaving planes in full makeup and stilettos? I also once accosted Rachel at Sugarfish in the height of my Crazy Ex-Girlfriend obsession and she was super nice about it. Still so sorry about that, Rachel!
3. Sophie Turner
Sophie is basically the queen of young Hollywood right now, with her hit TV show ending, marrying a Jonas brother, and just being super chic and fabulous. I really like her, though, because she also posts sh*t like this, where she’s sleeping on the Game of Thrones set. She also frequently posts stories and photos without makeup, and funny things going on in her life. She does have a lot of photos in full glam, but that’s what happens when you’re young, rich, famous, and going out all the time. Even still, if she ever edits her photos, it’s never scary levels. Also, not sure why she’d need to.
4. Zoë Kravitz
Zoë Kravitz is another fabulous young Hollywood queen and OMG, she is crazy beautiful. Her Instagram is full of both glammed-up cover photos, and casual, relaxed no-makeup pics in her real life. She never seems to edit her photos. She also posts funny memes, has very normal friends and family pics, and discusses important issues. She’s also obsessed with Reese Witherspoon (but like, who isn’t?). What’s it like to be so perfect, Zoë?
5. Georgia Hardstark
Georgia Hardstark is 1/2 of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder. It’s a true crime podcast, and it’s hilarious, even though it sounds like it shouldn’t be. Both Georgia and her cohost Karen Kilgariff are super real people. They speak openly about mental health, and they don’t bullsh*t. Georgia’s Instagram features mostly pets and murder, two of my favorite things. She also is really cute and never edits her photos. She’s the perfect person to follow to remind you that real people still exist and we don’t all need (or want) to look like Kardashians. Also, I’m currently reading her and Karen’s new book, Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered, and it’s fabulous.
6. Chrissy Teigen
You don’t know how to use social media if you’re not already following Chrissy Teigen. I didn’t even know who she was prior to her absolutely genius Twitter game. I also really enjoy her Instagram, where she posts a ton of no-makeup selfies, her real body (which is super fit and definitely #goals but still has all organs/ribs), and her cute family (including bulldog!). Also, I hate kids so this doesn’t apply much to me, but she posts a ton of relatable parenting stuff about how much they can suck.
7. Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling is a household name in terms of body positivity, women coming up, and being real af. I adore her. She’s another super positive role model on social media (and just in life) with her (mostly) unedited content and curvy figure. I say mostly, because she obvs uses filters and small edits, but no crazy body shaping or other extremes. She’s also a fashion icon. Follow her and try to live with “the entitlement of a tall, blond, white man” just as she does.
8. Reese Witherspoon
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The ultimate thriller! My August book club pick is #TheLastHouseGuest by @meganlmiranda. Picture this: It’s the last night of summer in Littleport, Maine and Avery Greer discovers her best friend is missing. Was she murdered? Was it a suicide? This story will have you guessing until the very end. I can’t wait for y’all to read it so we can discuss all the twists and turns at @reesesbookclub! ?✨
As previously mentioned, we all are obsessed with Reese. I’ve been obsessed since Legally Blonde, and often aspire to “What, like it’s hard?” energy. She basically hasn’t aged since, but I really appreciate that she posts real photos of her face without airbrushing, her normal proportions, no crazy body mods, and always a chic outfit. She also shades her kids on IG which is very funny. And she started Reese’s Book Club that supports female authors, which you should also follow. Reese is a true gem. She also posts dog pics, which to me is v v important.
9. Selma Blair
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Last but certainly not least, I legit went back and updated this list upon realizing I inadvertently left out a social media icon. Since revealing her MS diagnosis in October 2018, Selma has taken to Instagram to talk about the scary, less-than-glamorous aspects of the disease and regularly discusses her hair loss, insomnia, pain, and other side effects. But also? She manages to have a sense of humor. Like this pic where she compared herself to Pit Bull. And another one where she makes fun of her own contouring skills. In a society where we all act like we have everything together and things are perfect at all times, especially on social media, it’s so refreshing to see Selma being honest about something so difficult.
What other body positive/Instagram positive celebrities do you follow? Let me know in the comments!
Images: Instagram (@kristenanniebell, @racheldoesstuff, @sophiet, @zoeisabellakravitz, @hardstark, @chrissyteigen, @mindykaling, @reesewitherspoon)
In our weekly Photoshop Fail, we choose one celebrity or influencer Instagram that’s been edited poorly and show you what the tells are of a botched Photoshop job. This is to show you that the bodies you see on Instagram aren’t real, and pretty much every celebrity is editing their pics—even the people you wouldn’t expect. Moral of the story: don’t trust anybody on social media.
This week’s Photoshop Fail is one I mentioned previously, and a ton of you guys wanted me to analyze it. This is what’s so scary. To me, the second I saw this Pretty Little Liars poster years ago, I was like, “oh God, kill it with fire.” It’s a horrendous mutation of what women—even these drop-dead gorgeous women—look like. But So. Many. People. saw this poster (and others) and thought, “Wow they’re so beautiful, how can I look like that?” Spoiler: you can’t. Even the women in the poster do not look like that. It’s not real, nor should you want to look like this poster. When you consider that most of PLL‘s fanbase is young women/teenage girls, it’s straight-up irresponsible to put out posters like these, and even the cast agreed.
Now, all of PLL‘s posters were problematic, but this one was absolutely the worst. I mean, you expect Photoshop in professional ads/photoshoots. Hi, I do it as a side gig for quick cash because it takes a lot of education to be good at it but not a lot of time to do. To me, that means evening out lighting, fixing minor imperfections (stray hairs, lines in the clothes, etc), color adjustments. It does not mean making alien mutations of already insanely beautiful women. Seriously, does it get more attractive than this cast? And it still wasn’t good enough?
Both Ashley Benson and Troian Bellasario publicly commented that the poster was scary and looked nothing like them, and they both found it super disappointing. And according to Ash, these were actually photos taken four years prior. Instead of just taking new pics, they digitally amped up their makeup to Bratz doll levels and made their hair giant. Why do I somehow suspect the photo editors were men? Like, “Hm yes, bigger hair, automatically sexy.”
The part of this that is most insulting is that the PLL costume designer is goddess Mandi Line, who I am obsessed with. The outfits in the show were to die for. I just want Mandi to dress me like Aria every single day. The show could have easily paid for and styled an amazing photoshoot that didn’t make them all look like the aliens from Dude Where’s My Car?. SO weird how these huge budget shows keep doing this, like that one season of The Real Housewives of Orange County. Bad Photoshop is not a solution to skipping a photoshoot!
So, how much work was actually done here? I don’t know where the original photos were from, but let’s just compare based on what the stars really look like.
Firstly, it’s so weird that they all have half of a face. Lucy and Shay apparently weren’t good enough to have a full nose, either. But aside from the strange cropping, I tried to match it up with a real pic of Lucy at a similar angle. Aria was always my favorite (I had secretly hoped she would be A… such a good twist!). However, you can see from the photo that there’s a big difference between a gorgeous woman with makeup on and an airbrushed-to-sh*t ad. Her skin texture is completely gone, she’s smoothed out like a plastic doll, they went crazy with the burn tool all over her eyes to make them sunken, and pulled them bigger. They cleaned up her brows, and my favorite part—the hair. They gave her some kind of bulbous skull deformity that is the only excuse for why her hair reaches back four extra inches from where her actual head is. This is what I don’t understand about extreme editing. It would have looked better just as an actual photo that was posed that way!
Sooooo they removed Ashley’s other eye. It’s so funny because it’s such a close call. It’s almost possible that the wasp’s nest on Lucy’s head could have covered up Ash’s eye. Almost. However, the comparison photo I grabbed is a straight-on shot. As we can see, in the edited poster one, she’s slightly tilted to the side, which in perspective, would push her eye more towards the nose. They literally just took it out. When you have these weird close calls in editing, you just fix it. Like either expand the hair even more (what difference would it make at this point, honestly) OR leave a little bit of eye showing. But no. It’s been removed for the sake of beauty. And just look at that hair. She looks like she’s going to star in a Vegas drag show after this. In addition to the plastic smoothing and eye job Lucy got, they clearly shaved down Ash’s nose and blurred it into her face. She got to keep her full nose unlike the other girls, but it still was not good enough for ~*beauty*~. Also? Ashley Benson is the epitome of the hot girl, just ask her girlfriend, supermodel Cara Delevingne. She! Does not! Need! Nose shaving! Or an eye removal. Who knew we’d be taking fashion tips from The Handmaid’s Tale?
This just speaks volumes to how good of an actor Troian is—it’s been years and I still can’t accept that she isn’t Spencer IRL. Like, it feels wrong calling her another name. Soooo this one was really interesting. First of all, Troian definitely got the worst hair. It’s actually twice the size of her whole head. But I actually had trouble getting the faces to line up, which means they edited her entire face. Some of it could be the angle—I’m matching up different pictures, years apart of course, but Troian’s jawline is clearly just straight-up in a different spot than it appears in the ad. Which is weird because I feel like having a perfect, defined jaw like that is normally coveted? They moved it, softened it, murdered Troian’s nose, and even stretched her eyes into more cat-eye shapes, and her eyebrows are in a completely different spot. Some of that is just her expression, but it’s really, really far away from the actual shape. They even diminished her high cheekbones—also a supposedly attractive trait. I can see why she was so offended—these women don’t even look the same when you see the side-by-side. And real Troian is way prettier (and less terrifying).
Okay, this one was harder, because Shay was posed at a weird angle and I couldn’t find an *exact* pose to match. So I flipped a photo of her. So if you’re like but “omg Shay has a mole on this side,” yes, you’re right, because I flipped it. Anyway. Um, the first horror with this photo is they bleached Shay’s skin, which I never noticed in the original. I guess I just figured it was the lighting, but you can clearly see that regardless of color tone, her skin is way, way too lightened in the edit. Horrible. While it’s not an exact angle match, I will say they seemed to have shaved her chin a bit, and got rid of her cheekbones (again… why?), and diminished her nose. In addition, of course, to the big hair, scary plastic skin, and sunken eyes, of course. If you’re messing with Shay Mitchell, you obviously don’t think any woman is attractive.
I hope this shows you how horrific Hollywood is. Every poster you see is edited to this extent—some just are better at hiding it. Kudos to the women of PLL for calling it out themselves. They help get rid of the toxicity associated with this level of quasi-perfection. But really, does anyone find this attractive? I think it looks crazy.
In happier news, I am pleased to say that Katie Maloney did something that I found both hilarious and body positive.
She posted an UNEDITED video zooming in on her ass, with the caption “I dongivafuck”, which, respect. I generally don’t care for/seek out ass videos, but for how much flack this woman gets about her body, I appreciate that she’s owning her shape, her ass, and telling you to GTFO. We need to see more female celebs and women on TV that own their shape at any size. Good for you, Katie! Your body looks awesome, and people pay a lot of money for asses like that—just ask the Kardashians. More of this, please!
Images: Instagram (@sleepinthegardn); Giphy (2); Getty Images (4); Instagram (@musickillskate)
I normally really don’t care about Bella Thorne, but she posted something today that is really cool and v v important. In this sick and twisted world we live in of Photoshop fails, influencers, and CGI people telling us what to look like, we definitely need reminders that real people don’t have these sicko Barbie proportions we see everywhere. If I see one more grown-ass adult woman with the waist of a toddler, I will start throwing sh*t. But seriously, that CGI model influencer sh*t really freaked me out. I don’t need to be told what I should look like by f*cking Woody from Toy Story (who is also a CGI model, in case you don’t understand what’s happening). Literally that woman and Woody are the exact same thing. And we accept this as our body standard.
Instead of everyone editing themselves to match, I would REALLY appreciate if we all just owned our real shape/face/etc. And in that, Bella Thorne did something right. She posted a VERY real photo about how she doesn’t edit photos:
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Ur bitch never edits she refuses. And I feel so much prettier when I don’t it. I’m not in my head about like how this or that looks better w a little help. That always made me feel worse so I put a ban on editing photos of me. Mags kinda didn’t like it at first but they got used to it and so did every Photgrapher I work with. So stick to your guns folks!! #thelifeofawannabemogul
You can tell this photo hasn’t been tampered with. All the background lines are straight, for one. Her skin has texture instead of being airbrushed. And she has very normal body proportions, not like an alien Barbie. Bella is a very pretty, very thin girl, let’s make that clear. But it’s awesome to see photos of a celeb that have a waist that can actually FIT organs. And eyes that are in proportion to her head. She’s obviously had her lips done and some Botox, but whatever, we need to see more of this always. More celebrities need to get on board.
And Bella is totally right—editing your photos to death just validates to yourself that you are not good enough and puts you too much in your own head. Who wants to over analyze every single photo of themselves and pick out every imperfection? That just cannot be good for your self-esteem. And IMO, the “fixed” photos always look scary af.
I just think it’s funny that Bella chooses to make this grandiose announcement after all the drama with her ex Tana Mongeau. Tana and Bella broke up, Tana got engaged to someone else horrible, and they had a trash wedding that she herself admitted was for the ‘Gram, which is the grossest thing I’ve ever heard. Not only was the wedding super weird, they actually charged people to stream it. And it gets worse. Jake Paul has had a fake marriage before. They don’t have a marriage license, which means this isn’t legal. Honestly, that is a relief, but stop with your lies, Tana. And apparently, this is all just to promote Tana’s new MTV YouTube show. WHO even wants to watch that?
Sidenote: remember when all those people used the excuse that gay marriage would ruin the sanctity of the institution? Are you f*cking kidding me? Just look at these straight people.
Anyway. Tana has been our reigning queen of photo retouching FAILURE, second only to Nat, and I don’t even really understand who either of these people are still. Tana does the worst kind of the edits—mutilating her body beyond recognition and ballooning her eyes and lips so she looks exactly like a blowup doll. It seems like Tana is faking everything in her life—her face, her body, her relationships.
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you meet so many people in this life that are so quick to be so happy for you in your high moments, to stand by your side when you succeed- but to be so lucky to find a friend that will stand with you through your lowest moments is something most people aren’t even lucky enough to find. thank you Ashly, for starving with me so that we could eat together. for never leaving my side, even when it could’ve been easy. for literally having the same brain as me, just a little more organized… i can truly say you are my best friend on earth and it’s crazy to me that we met because all of our friends at the time were treating us like shit. i didn’t even know what ride or die meant until i met you… HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SISTER! thank u for existing. for being there in every fucked up situation to either cry with me or secretly film for live footage. getting evicted and being homeless with me. staying around even when my stalker fucked with you like it was me.. fighting with eachothers families like it was our own… and shit most of all, succeeding and crushing life together. HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY!!! i literally feel like I am 22!!!!!!!! now can we put on fake eyelashes and bombshells and blackout or??!!!????? ALSO WE DID THIS PIC WITHOUT A FACETUNE HELLO!!!!!!
Is Bella posting this now to shade her ex? Like, “hey Tana, here’s what a real person looks like, maybe you should try it”? TBH, I can’t imagine Bella isn’t feeling disgusted with Tana. She was super upset when Tana got engaged and then now we hear it’s all a setup. If my ex did that, you can guarantee I would talk sh*t. Say what you want about Bella Thorne, but she is very real. She’s always been open about her feelings and what’s going on in her life. And she’s real about her photos, too. Good job, Bella!
Do you think Bella posted this to shade Tana? What other celebrities do you love that don’t edit their photos? Is Tana’s marriage complete BS? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
So since I’ve been doing these Photoshop articles, I’ve complained A LOT about how other people edit their photos. And gotten questions about how to do it correctly. So here I am, I’m going to show you how to do a basic edit. Then, to prove a point, I’m going to show you what celebrities/photographers/editors do to make people look like celebrities. I’m showing you how to do the celeb edit so you understand that not even THEY look like this in real life. None of it is real, and you shouldn’t hold fake images as your standard.
I’ll never forget when a friend from college got a job editing music videos. There was a certain singer that I always thought was the pinnacle of perfection—perfect skin, perfect hair, beautiful, and very thin. Turns out, she wasn’t so thin IRL. Her weight fluctuates just like all of us. In fact, she gained a ton of weight before the video my friend was editing. His job was to go frame by frame through the music video, and edit out her multiple chins, and shave down her entire body to make her look fit. After that, I realized every image, every movie, and every video is complete BS.
Shall we begin? I’m going to show you how to edit a selfie today, then next week we’re going to do a full body shot.
Here is a sloppy af photo of me that I just took. I spent my morning at doctor appointments, so I didn’t really care how I left the house today.
Fun fact: when I decided to do this assignment, I was like, “Aw bummer, my skin has been soooo perfect and I want to show them how easy it is to cover acne. Maybe I’ll Photoshop some acne into the original photo so I can show you how to cover it.” But then the universe was like, “Acne, you say? You don’t have to tell me twice.” And my skin broke out horribly. So. Awesome. AND, right before I was Maid of Honor in my friend’s wedding last weekend.
I hope you enjoy it.
Okay, so for full disclosure: this is my no-makeup makeup. I have on translucent powder, tinted eyebrow gel, mascara, and a blush/lip tint combo, although the tint seems to have mostly wiped off by now. My hair is usually a cool gray ombre, but I neutralized it out for my friend’s wedding and haven’t used my purple shampoo yet. I also took the photo in the most flattering lighting in my apartment (facing the window), but the flip side is you can see all the crap behind me. We’ll get to that later.
I’m using Photoshop CC for this edit. If you regularly edit your photos, just bite the bullet and get it. Facetune tries to cheat what Photoshop does, but does it in a fast, one-size-fits-all way. If you want your edits to look seamless and professional, it’s not really negotiable.
Ok, the first things I’m going to do are crop, sharpen, and fix the lighting.
The crop tool is located to the left on the toolbar. You just drag the window it makes to your desired spot. I’m cropping out my fridge and the writing on my t-shirt.
Next, we sharpen. The photo was done with my 4-year-old iPhone, so the quality isn’t the best. I don’t even have Portrait mode. Sharpening makes the photo look more high res. Weirdly enough, I can’t screenshot menus in Photoshop, so this is where you find it. At the top toolbar, go to Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen. Yes, two sharpens, because there are different options, but we want the basic.
Also on the top bar, you go to Image and you’ll see options Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color. Try this out (feel free to undo) until you get the lighting you want for your picture. You can also adjust manually but for basic color balance, these work just fine.
Here is my image now:
The color is clearer, but my acne is more prominent. That’s okay, we can fix that. These are just basics I go through first. Now we get to the true editing.
TBH? I normally don’t edit my own photos, besides like, using a flattering filter. I would have put on concealer before taking this pic IRL, and more makeup probably, made sure my hair was done, changed my shirt, etc. It’s a lot easier than trying to edit after the fact. I recommend preventing editing always. But let’s say you can’t, the photo has been taken, and you need to fix it. Here’s where editing is useful.
Now we need to unlock the layer and duplicate it. Unlock by clicking the little lock next to the image in your Layers menu. If you don’t see this menu, you can turn it on under View at the top. Once it’s unlocked, press Ctrl+J to duplicate. We do this so if you screw anything up, we can just grab it from the original layer.
Now that those are done, let’s fix my skin. We need the Spot Healing Brush. Find it on your toolbar here:
And then you literally just stamp over any SMALL imperfections. It works by copying the surround color/texture and stamping it over the area you indicate. This is how some images go horribly wrong—when people use this on more complicated areas, such as the hands. It’s only meant for small problems in larger areas, like acne. Just click the tool over any problem spots.
Ta da! Perfect skin. I use this sparingly, leaving freckles, oiliness, and redness out of it. If you need to fix that, there are better ways. See? That took me literally a second.
Next, grab the Burn tool, by finding it on the toolbar or pressing “O” on your keyboard. It may be set to the Dodge tool, which is different, so to switch it to Burn mode, right click on the icon on your toolbar and select it.
The Burn tool darkens things in a way that makes sense with the color palette. I’m going to trace over my eyebrows, eyelids, and lower eyelashes with it to give the appearance of shadow/makeup. You can keep layering it to continue to make it darker. I also like to trace the outside edge of the irises to make what we’re going to do next really pop.
And that takes way less time than actually applying eye makeup. Next, right-click the same tool but select Dodge. Just like Burn darkens, Dodge lightens. This time, I’m going to trace the inside of my iris, the whites of my eyes, and my teeth. It brightens everything up. Make sure you don’t go too overboard with either the Dodge or Burn tools. Less is more. If you think it’s too much, try lowering the percentage at the top toolbar. Selecting “protect tones” helps as well.
And here it is:
This is now a really nice “no makeup” selfie. But let’s push it further. First of all, I HATE having stuff in the background of my pictures. Let’s get rid of it. Please don’t use the soft airbrush to erase, it looks awful. Here’s how I like to do this. First, CTRL+J to duplicate the layer again, so you have a copy. Then, at the top toolbar, go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. Then bring both the brightness and contrast all the way over to the right, or until the background is mostly white. Don’t worry that your selfie looks terrible. Mine looks like this:
Ahh, Myspace flashbacks. For those of you who are young, we used to do this on purpose to our photos and thought it looked good. Anyway. Create a new layer. Then, press B for the brush tool. Using the HARD brush tool (not that soft airbrush one), color in the rest of the background white. Use a small brush around the hair so you can keep some flyaways. We don’t want a definitive line. Mine looks like this:
Here’s the cool part. Go back to the layer with the high contrast image. Switch to your eraser (press E) and we’re going to erase out the selfie part of the image. What will show beneath is our previous layer. Be careful not to go too close to the edges of the background, or you’ll bring back some of that too. But you can always Undo or paint it white again on your white layer.
Now, this is just a nit-picky thing that may seem weird to you, but I HATE when most of the flyaways are gone and it looks cut out. So if this happens, I like to paint a little frizz back in. Not as much as there was (my hair was a MESS), but just a little. To do this, CREATE A NEW LAYER (very important). Then go back to your Brush tool, put it on a reaaaaallly small size, and then Press I to get the Eyedropper tool. Select a piece of hair to grab the color. Then start drawing in a few flyaways. I recommend changing the color (Press I again) when you get to lighter pieces. Remember, draw in the same direction as the hair already is. When you’re done, go to the layer window, and reduce the Opacity of the layer to 75%. It makes it look a bit more natural.
And here it is:
Much better! Now it looks like a decent selfie. This is beyond enough for a basic edit. But let’s say…I’m Instagram famous.
How can we edit this further? Well. It’s a lot. This won’t be as bad as the body one for next week, but I think it’s important to show you how easy it is to edit and how full of sh*t celebrity photos can be. Keep in mind, if this was a professional ad, I’d have a MUCH higher quality image, so it’d be even more believable. So, let’s go.
My hair color looks a bit weird in this photo, so I’m going to fix that next. Make a new layer. If you haven’t caught on, I put as much as possible on new layers so that you can change Opacity or Mode easily, and also erase or get rid of it if you don’t like what you did. I’m normally a cool tone gray but I changed it for my friend’s wedding. For this edit, I’m going to make it how it was. Go to the brush tool and this time, DO choose the Soft Round brush this time. You can choose any color you wish. I chose a cool gray that is similar to my old color. Now you’ll paint over the larger parts of the hair. Leave the flyways and teeny pieces, they won’t matter much. Change your brush size as needed or use pressure sensitivity if you have a drawing tablet.
Lovely. Now go to your layers and change the mode to “Color” instead of Normal.
Look at that. Fresh dye, and it cost me nothing.
Next, I think the color of my shirt is too distracting. Let’s change that too. If you’re wearing a light colored shirt, you can change it the same way we did the hair. Go to the main layer (not the original backup, the copy we made). Choose the Lasso tool (press L) and select the shirt. It’s okay to overlap the hair. As long as your hair color layer is above this one (or if you made a new color layer for your shirt), the hair won’t be affected.
Then, go to the top toolbar. Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. Lower the Saturation until you’re happy. I did a muted blue.
This was more of a personal choice, but I think it’s less distracting.
Now, we can do lipstick. I’m going to make a new layer, and use the lasso tool again on my lips. I’m choosing a berry color. Then, go to the layer mode, like we did with the hair, and change it to Multiply. You can try different modes if that one doesn’t work with your color choice. You can also adjust the opacity if you think it’s too much.
At this point, my lips are looking REALLY airbrushed. It’s mostly because my image wasn’t very hi-res to begin with, but also, the more you edit, the worse it gets. Depending on what this was for, I would maybe grab lip texture from something else and put it on lips to force it to look hi-res. I also sometimes paint pores back in for the same reason. But most celebs keep the airbrushed look for their selfies, so we’ll just leave it. If you’re curious as to what it looks like, I made myself into a GoT poster for the last season. I painted in all the pores and lip texture because I also used my iPhone for this and don’t own a real camera:
Okay, back to our current project. Here’s where sh*t starts to get weird. One of the biggest features of Facetune that people like my mother are obsessed with, is to make the eyes bigger. It makes them look more open and awake, but if done poorly, can make you look like a scary cartoon. Here’s how it’s done professionally. Go to the main layer again, and select the eyes.
Ctrl+J to make a copy of JUST the eyes. Then, press Ctrl+T to bring up the transform window. At the top, you’ll see a toolbar with percentages. Change W: from 100% to 105%. Change H: from 100% to 105%.
You can see that this made the eyes slightly bigger. You can do more than 105% if you want, but proceed with caution. Now, go to your Eraser and choose a soft brush. Erase out the edges around your bigger eyes layer so they blend in. I also recommend erasing out the eyebrows. Big eyes are cute, but you don’t need oversize brows too (or maybe you do?).
Okay. Are you exhausted yet? I actually normally do this super fast, but it’s taking me forever breaking it down. If you’re interested in doing this professionally, this is a quick process when you’re used to it.
Time for more makeup.
To fake foundation, this is an especially good trick to cover under-eye circles, redness, or oiliness. Create a new layer. Use the Brush tool with a soft brush. Use the Eyedropper tool (press I) to selection your skin tone. Paint over the face, avoiding eyes, eyebrows, and lips.
Lower the opacity in the layer window as needed. I did 20% because the lighting was pretty good when I took the pic, so I didn’t need much. If you have REALLY bad bags or oiliness, make a separate layer (so you don’t lose your nose) for just that section and keep the opacity higher (50-75%).
Here is that airbrushed look that I hate that everyone gets:
Now let’s *CONTOUR*. For this to work, we need to compress the image. I recommend doing this as a copy. Click inside the layer window. Press Ctrl+A to select all layers. Then, Press CTRL+J. It will duplicate every single layer. Then, press CTRL+E. It will merge all the new layers into one. Now we have a clean workspace of all of our edits that we can Dodge and Burn. Press O, and switch between the Burn and Dodge tools to contour your face the same way you’d put on makeup. Dodge where you’d put highlighter: the cheekbones, the nose, underneath eyebrows, above top lip, corner of eyes, the center of the lower lip, and a little on the chin. Then, Burn where you’d contour: under cheekbones, around edge of face, outside edges of forehead, sides of nose, top lip, and sides of lips if you want, etc. Contour as you see fit. You can also Burn around your eyes again to really make them pop. I also Burned my neck so that my new tanner shadows match.
Sidenote: if this was being used professionally, I’d edit some of the hair covering my neck out, but frankly, I don’t care and I can’t believe anyone is still paying attention to this.
Now, since I didn’t have eye makeup on in this photo, let’s add some! And lash extensions! Why not? Make a new layer. Go to your Brush and change the color to either dark brown or black. Choose a very small hard brush. Now I did my eyeliner like I usually would—a cateye, and I drew in eyelashes. If you’re going to do this, make sure they’re not perfectly spaced and are irregular.
Now lower the opacity a little on the layer, I did 70%.
Okay, guys, since this is sooooo long I’m going to stop here. If we really wanted to get further into it, I could photoshop someone else’s hair on me, change my outfit, give me someone else’s eyebrows, change my face shape. Really anything. But hopefully this gives you a view the next time you see a celebrity or influencer selfie, that nothing is really what it seems!
Here is the real image to my edit:
Bottom line? TRUST NO ONE. You can’t even tell I look like an acne-ridden 15-year-old in real life. And these edits are even more realistic with a hi-res image. See you next week for the body edit! It will be craaazy.
Are there any Photoshop specific things you want me to teach you how to do? LMK in the comments!
This week, I had to dive deep. I wanted to show something a little different than just a messy airbrush and body cutout job. Some of these influencers are real Photoshop pros—in fact, you’d have to possess a thorough understanding of anatomy to see how it’s not possible, because their edits are so seamless and don’t leave traces, like warped walls. Some of them.
And then, I bring you Tana Mongeau.
Who, btw, I have no idea who she is, except for this recent article about Bella Thorne, who she apparently was in a throuple with. I also know nothing of Bella Thorne, except that every photo I see of her, I feel like I can smell her. I don’t mean that in a nice way.
According to Google, Tana is Youtube famous? IDK.
But I found this photo of her.
This is a super hot photo and v typical for influencers of any kind. (Are Youtubers the same as influencers? Children, I need you to educate me.) I WISH I could take a decent bikini photo, but as you’ll see in my upcoming article where I edit the f*ck out of my own body to show you how stupidly easy it is, I always look weird. It’s like every angle is my unflattering angle. YOU’LL SEE.
But really, though, how do you get the perfect back arch, look thin, have your face look pretty, etc? All in one photo? How many tries does this take? Who is taking this photo? What kind of patience do they have?
However, this is a pretty good edit. PRETTY good. Professional for sure. There are no major “tells” that I can see. The shadow is believable, which is often a huge giveaway. But what really told me this is bullsh*t, aside from the “too perfect”ness of it all, are the legs/ass. That is a really small yet bubbly ass for her body. And same with her thighs, especially compared to the very warped and huge calves/feet! COULD it be the water warping it? Yes, absolutely. But the water could literally do almost anything. You’re telling me that by sheer coincidence, the water that made her monstrous calves the size of her waist, also gave her a teensy but shapely ass and little dancer thighs? How convenient.
I’m going to call bull. And now that we’re looking for “tells”, most of her body has blurry edges, especially around the stomach, chest, and upper (but not lower) arm. Now, as you’ll remember from previous articles, blurring happens when you erase with the airbrush tool, or if you move lines by transforming or smudging. COULD it be the lighting? Maybe. Her thigh also seems warped, like it’s bent in at a strange angle. Again, could be the water.
But then I found this.
God Bless Reddit, everyone. This a *REAL* photo of Tana with a fan in the same suit. Now, she’s not as posed/sucking in as anyone who takes a bikini pic would be. But she is significantly a different size IRL. The suit doesn’t look like it even fits. She also has the exact opposite butt as advertised. There is no angle that would make those thighs look so teensy. Thick thighs are in, anyway! She’s also got a way larger chest in the edited picture.
The reason I’m showing you this is so you know that influencer/celeb bodies are not as they seem on social media. Almost ALL of her photos are edited like this, with a pretend body that isn’t even hers. I will say that the photo on the right is super unflattering, and I’m sure in real life, she looks like a normal, thin girl. So why do the scary skinny and warped proportions to make you look like a different person? More women need to own their true bodies. I’m sure the original photo would have been hot AF, too, she just wouldn’t have crazy unrealistic proportions! Hey Tana? You don’t need to post fake thirst trap photos. Men will f*ck literally anything.
Does this surprise you about Tana? When you see influencer photos like this, do you believe it’s their real bodies? LMK in the comments!
Images: Tana Mongeau / Instagram
Don’t lie, almost (if not all) your Instagram photos have been edited in some sort of way. Even though we all know it’s “misleading” and “dangerous”, we all do it anyway. Wanted to look a little tanner? Filter that sh*t. Teeth not as white as you would like? Edit that sh*t. Want to Instagram a photo but your ex is in it? Crop that sh*t out. Editing apps are tricky, because they make you feel amazing, even if they make everyone looking at your photos feel insecure. Until we all mutually agree to stop editing our photos, though, these apps are kind of a necessary evil. But not all editing apps are the same. Here is a list of the best photo editing apps to help you out and up your Instagram game that aren’t Facetune, because like, everybody knows about Facetune. If I use these photo editing apps on the regular, can I call myself a graphic designer?
1. Photoshop Fix
This one is my personal favorites because it is so easy to use (and I’m v technologically challenged). Besides the obvious features like cropping, adjusting the lighting, and fixing the dreaded red-eye, it is so easy to remove something (or someone) from the photo using their “Spot Heal” function. We all have those favorite photos that we look bomb in but either an ex-boyfriend or friend are making it impossible to do anything with it. This app makes it easier to remove them than having to take a whole new photo.
Another fabulous and free app. My two favorite F words after … food, you perverts. If you need great filter options, this app is for you. They have a huge selection that never looks over-edited. If their 36 filters aren’t enough choice for you, the app does offer in-app purchases to really up your photo editing game.
3. Photo Editor
Another app that is so easy to use, but don’t be fooled by its simplicity. This app is killer at whitening your teeth, removing that pimple, or erasing your pores. If baby skin is your ideal, download this free app now. As my sister puts it, “it makes me look like a catfish.” Lol. I’m not saying you need to remove your imperfections, but if you want to, this app is for you. Just to show you its effectiveness, I edited a photo below. Please note, I’m not saying this girl needs to change her appearance AT ALL, I’m just proving a point.
This is your go-to app for any layouts. With 25 templates (and an extra 60 if you want to pay), you can arrange your photos in pretty much any order.
Want to get that disposable camera look without *gasp* actually using a disposable camera? Besides the fact that I do not even know if disposable cameras still exist, the quality will not be as good as your iPhone X. This is perfect for the person who wants to cultivate a vintage Instagram aesthetic. And now I’m crying because the 90s is considered vintage. It’s fine, I’m fine.
Images: Tiraya Adam, Rustin Vegan, Mohau Mannathoko, Charles Deluvio, Drew Roberts / Unsplash