Celebrities & Photo Editing: When Does It Go Too Far

article by Esme M. author
Photo editing is not new to the entertainment industry; magazines have been under fire for slimming waists and refining jawlines for years. But social media has elevated the conversation about ‘photo editing ethics’ to a whole new level.

Celebrities are now calling out publications for unethically editing their images more often. But are they holding themselves to the same standards? Based the number of scandalous news stories that have resulted from scandalous Instagram posts, we think not. We’ve rounded up some of the most controversial instances too illustrate when photo editing crosses the line to manipulation.

Baby’s Got Gap

One controversial post to hit Instagram in the past couple of years involves Britney Spears, a teeny weeny yellow bikini, and a rather large “back gap.” The internet started buzzing as soon as it was posted because there is a gap where there should be tile because of a very unnatural curve. It’s more than a year after it was originally posted and still has users crying “Photoshopped.” One user even told Spears “I have seen [your] body and know you are fit and beautiful. No need to photoshop like this.” The “gap” technique is a common one among celebrity Instagram accounts; it is often applied to thighs. Other offenders include Kim Zolciak Biermann and Beyoncé.

Disappearing Wrinkles

It’s no Hollywood secret that common signs of aging like wrinkles are removed from ads and television commercials. Everyone from Demi Moore to Zooey Deschanel has been featured in ads with faces that look suspiciously porcelain-like.

We don’t agree with the practice, but understand that celebs themselves have little control over the final product in those cases. On their own Instagram accounts, however, it’s a different story. In 2014, ‘momager’ Kris Kardashian sparked controversy for blatantly editing out wrinkles in a picture with Chef Gordon Ramsey. She seems to have learned her lesson though. On the rare occasion that she posts a picture of herself instead of promoting one of her daughters, she sometimes looks her age…sometimes.

The Shrinking Selfie

Another common trick of the advertising trade is the ever-shrinking waist. A look at Mariah Carey’s 2015 album cover proves just how drastically a waist can shrink back to 1988, for example.

Celebrities are just as dishonest about their waists on their Instagram accounts. Model Miranda Kerr is known to be rather edit-happy on her social media accounts. She once slimmed down her butt in a selfie she took doing ballet in her living room, but in another commonly referenced selfie taken during a Michael Korr’s event she has manually slimmed her waist. Ironically, the difference is most clear when compared to paparazzi photos taken on the same night. Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, and Britney Spears have also been caught altering selfies thanks to paparazzi pictures. And female celebrities aren’t the only ones guilty of this deception. Singer/songwriter John Mayer has been caught altering his face in a photo so dramatically we think he resembled a video game character.

How to Spot Celebrity Deception

 The biggest clue when trying to detect if a celebrity’s Instagram photo has been altered is to check for curves inside the photo. Oddly shaped doorways, mirrors, wine bottles, and even cell phones are a huge giveaway. Sometimes they are easier to spot than you’d think.

Just use your eyes. If a face looks so smooth it’s bordering on fake, there’s a chance it is. If a waistline looks unnaturally thin, don’t use it as your workout inspiration. (#fitspo it is not.) And remember, all eyes have veins. There is nothing wrong with a bit of blemish reduction, a retro filter, or even some light makeup tweaks, we all do it. But celebrities have tools and means take photo editing over the line into photo manipulation— browse with your eyes open.

If you wish to avoid those questionable practices, give a sneak peak at our guide and learn some simple photo editing tricks. It is possible to get amazing photos even without over-editing.