You know that little voice inside your head? The one you hear when you’re standing in front of the mirror in the morning, getting ready and critiquing everything about yourself? It’s the voice that picks apart everything about your appearance and makes little suggestions about how to fix it. It’s not that you need, or even want, a whole new face or anything. You’re not asking to trade bodies or faces with a supermodel or anything; you just want to be the best version of you… right?
Maybe you imagine your hair being fuller and more voluminous or your skin less shiny. Maybe you wish your eyes were just a tad bigger in that Disney princess kind of way or that your smile was a little whiter. These tiny changes we wish for might seem innocuous, but be careful what you wish for because sometimes, these little changes can strip away what makes you you. Just ask these five women, who let BuzzFeed take their pictures and then alter them with the full-on fashion model, magazine Photoshopping treatment. Their before and afters are shocking, but the best part of the who experiment is by far the women’s reaction to the pics (spoiler alert: They were super, super, super weirded out by their “best selves”).
Meet Allison. She’s naturally BEAUTIFUL and, yet, she had a LOT done to her pic. According to BuzzFeed, the photo retoucher made the following changes to Allison’s photo:
- Gave her torso an hourglass shape and contoured her camera-right breast.
- Slimmed arms, removed hair, and smoothed the skin.
- Took away some creases on hands.
- Lowered shoulders.
- Slight thigh reshape.
- Smoothed skin on neck and chest.
- Made the neck less wide on camera-right side.
- Smoothed skin on face and eliminated most lines/wrinkles.
- Narrowed face and jaw, smaller chin.
- Plumped lips.
- Fixed chipped teeth, whitened.
- Narrowed bridge and tip of nose.
- Larger, brighter, more even eyes.
- Added eyelashes.
- Evened and filled in brows.
- Gave hair more volume, smoothed, and reshaped.
That’s a LOT of changes. The short version is that almost every aspect of Allison’s appearance was tweaked in some way for the final photo. So which did Allison like best? She admits the original picture (on the left, in case you couldn’t tell), isn’t her favorite picture of herself (like many of us, she prefers more candid and fun photos of herself), but she doesn’t hate it. What she does kind of hate are the changes made for the retouched version.
“UM WUT. Who is this person? She’s so smooth and hairless and freckle-free,” she said after seeing the “improved” version of herself. “It’s like someone else made a decision for me about what plastic surgery I should get and it’s way more intense than I could’ve ever imagined. I enjoy my chipped teeth and weird dimples. Without that stuff I look less human and my smile definitely doesn’t look as genuine. Overwhelmingly, though, I think it’s time I invested in some teeth-whitening products.”
Sheridan (the gorgeous human on the left, not the weird android from the uncanny valley on the right) also volunteered for the experiment. Here are the changes the retoucher reported making to her pic:
- Slimmed waist and thighs, slimmer arms, shoulders smaller and lower.
- Face less round.
- Smoothed skin on arms and hands, removed hair, and erased hair ties on wrist.
- Fixed collar of shirt.
- Erased lines on neck, smoothed skin, erased mole.
- Plumped and evened lips.
- Reshaped jaw to minimize double chin.
- Cleaned and smoothed skin on face, less shine.
- Narrower neck.
- Bigger eyes, added eyelashes, brighter, evened brows.
- Smoothed hair and gave more volume.
Sheridan didn’t think her original picture was the best thing ever (it “isn’t profile pic material, but it isn’t disastrous,” she said), but, like Allison, she didn’t hate it. When it came to her edited pic, though, she had some SPOT ON comments.
“LOL. Man, my skin hasn’t looked this good since I was 8 years old. It’s weird, I look at this picture and I know it’s supposed to be me, but something’s not connecting. It’s like I’m looking at someone who I’m supposed to be. This new Sheridan seems effortlessly flawless, like those girls in middle school who never got acne and somehow pulled off blue braces.”
Couldn’t. Have. Said. It. Better.
Brace yourself because as beautiful and gorgeous and fierce as Lara is in the original picture, the retoucher still came up with an epic laundry list of changes to make to get her looking “perfect.” Here we go:
- Reshaped thighs, hips, hip bone, and waist into a smoother hour glassshape.
- Brought the camera-right side of upper torso closer to center to make her body smaller.
- Smaller, lower shoulder and moved in cleavage accordingly.
- Smoothed skin on arms, eliminated shadow on forearm across her waist.
- Smoothed skin on neck, erased all lines.
- Smoothed skin on face.
- Reshape of jaw to be a little more pointed.
- Adjustment of nostril shape.
- Gave top lip more of a heart shape.
- Eyes brighter, added eyelashes.
- Filled in and shaped brows.
- Hair has more volume and shape.
- Took away clothing wrinkles.
- Minimized skin/fat at the crook of arm between arm and breast camera-right by adding some fabric and eliminating shadows.
“Adjustment of nostril shape”? Seriously? In my wildest Photoshopping dreams, I would never expect that change to be made to models in magazines (or any human ever for that matter). Lara had mixed feelings about the Photoshopped her. On the one hand, she admitted that it didn’t look 100% like, but she also admitted that she had a hard time hating on every change that was made. That’s the kind of inner conflict most of us have about our bodies on a daily basis, so we can certainly relate.
“Who is that?” Lara asked when she saw the picture on the right. “What happened to my face? Where is my swollen stomach? Whose nose is that? HOW DID MY EYEBROWS GET SO FIERCE? A huge part of me wants to say that it makes me appreciate my body more — but I’m going to be honest, it’s hard to look at this retouched photo and not yearn for some of the aspects of it. I just want to get to the place where I can look in the mirror and love every damn inch of my body. I’m not there yet, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was yesterday. But also — I’m going to have nightmares about Lara 2.0 for weeks. She looks a bit CRAZY.”
Do blondes have more fun? That remains to be seen. But do they get less retouching when it comes achieving model “perfection”? Nope. They definitely don’t. This blonde beauty, Kirsten, was Photoshopped almost beyond recognition for the BuzzFeed experiment. Here’s the full list of changes the retoucher made:
- Slimmer thighs, smoother reshape of hips, smaller waist, lower and narrower shoulders, slimmer neck.
- Gave hair more volume and shape.
- Cleaned up skin on arms, chest, and neck, erased lines.
- Smoothed skin on face, erased most lines.
- Eliminated shadows under eyes.
- Filled in brows and changed the shape of the arch.
- Eyes are larger and more even.
- Added eyelashes and a little more eye makeup.
- Bridge of nose narrower, less pointed tip.
- Reshaped top lip to more of a heart shape, lips a little fuller.
- Fixed chipped teeth, straightened, and whitened.
- Face is narrower, jaw and chin smaller.
- Erased hair tie on wrist.
- Cleaned nails, especially the thumb.
Is it just me, or did Kirsten’s head actually get bigger in the second photo? It’s not just me: The retoucher called this “giving the hair more volume and shape.” Yikes. If my reaction was a big “yikes” and I’ve never seen Kirsten before today, imagine how she felt, considering all the years she’s had to get used to her actual face.
Or, don’t imagine it. Just read it for yourself.
“WHAT THE HELL? was my first thought upon seeing the picture,” Kirsten said, mimicking my reaction and probably yours, too. “I look like a porcelain doll that comes to life and murders everyone. My lips are bigger, my waist is slimmer, and my skin is completely clear. I think what’s bizarre is you grow up wanting all of those things and wanting to look a certain way, but when you actually see yourself transformed like that — it doesn’t feel like you’re looking at YOU. It made me miss my freckles, my dimples, and all those unique things that make me, me. Also, my thumb was cleaned and shortened! Like, what?! I guess I know what I would look like if I was a Stepford wife.”
Finally, meet Kristin, who ROCKED her LBD in the original photo and has one of the most expressive and beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen in my life (in the original photo at least…in the retouched version? Not so much). The photo edits somehow managed to strip Kristin of all personality, which is impressive since she has it in spades in the first image. Here are the changes, if you still have the stamina to get through them at this point (it’s exhausting just reading about all the changes that were made to these already-gorgeous girls):
- Slimmer arms and body, neck, and face.
- Smoothed skin on arms and neck, erased lines, erased scars on neck.
- Reshaped lips, made fuller, and added some color.
- Slight teeth whitening.
- Minor reshape of nose, less shine.
- Bigger eyes, brighter, added eye lashes, added eye shadow.
- Filled in and shaped brows.
- Added blush.
- Hair smoothed, more volume, and reshaped.
- Smoothed skin on kneecap.
Kristin loves her “flaws” though and was super bummed to see her most distinctive and awesome features wiped away in her retouched photo.
“The lightning bolt scar on my neck has been erased. HOW WILL VOLDEMORT KNOW WHERE HIS LAST HORCRUX IS NOW?!” she exclaimed in the greatest/geekiest response to a Photoshopped pic ever. “This is like looking into an alternate universe where I am a real estate agent on a bus ad. I know that aesthetically I look much better, but to me I look like an animal that has been stuffed by a taxidermist. Like, it’s technically my (beautified) face — but it doesn’t feel to me like Kristin is actually in there. Also, my kneecap skin was apparently smoothed? What was wrong with my kneecaps?! That said, retouched Kristin has a lovely three-bedroom bungalow in Beverly Hills that just went on the market that she thinks you would just adore.”
Totally with you on the weirdness of the kneecap thing, Kristin. Seriously, could anyone even see her kneecap clearly enough to critique it in the first version?
Seeing unretouched images of celebrities is jarring, but seeing these normal, lovely ladies Photoshopped almost beyond recognition somehow hits even harder. Their reactions are spot-on and a great reminder for all of us to resist the urge to wish for a full-body makeover in our moments of self-doubt because, well, we might just miss our so-called flaws if they were suddenly taken away from us.
(Images via BuzzFeed