Some eating disorder experts have expressed concern over the use of airbrushing and Photoshop to alter the reality appearing in magazine advertisements. Many eating disorder patients talk about how comparing their bodies to those of models and celebrities in magazines have contributed to their disordered eating behavior patterns.
While studies have not conclusively established a causal relationship between eating disorders and the altering of magazine advertisement images, most experts believe that there is some connection, or that advertisements might play a part in the perfect storm of factors that come together to trigger an eating disorder.
Some have called for advertisers and magazine editors to stop using Photoshop to alter the images of models and celebrities. However, as discussed in an article on Hollywood Reporter, scientists from Dartmouth College have developed what may offer another, less drastic solution.
Professor Henry Farid and doctoral student Eric Kee have created a rating system using quantifiable measures in order for magazine publishers to disclose the level of alteration in any given picture. The practice might help advertisers maintain the same level of appeal in their images, while protecting consumers from believing that the perfection portrayed in the photograph is a realistic goal.
The scientists used a group of participants to rate photos based on certain measures and compared the results with computerized ratings. The results showed that the ratings were consistent between the participants and the computers.
The development of the rating system may be a springboard for an alternative to the all-or-nothing debate about Photoshop. Advertisers don’t want to lose the mystique and glamour of a perfected photograph, but a little dose of reality may help many women avoid the struggle of an eating disorder.