Touching up Photos: what are pictures for?

For the second time in as many weeks I've seen some nice photos only to realize after the fact that they had been severely touched up. Keep in mind that these photos were meant as keepsakes, records of events from the past, so that they wouldn't be forgotten. When you touch up a photo which is supposed to be an easy way to keep an account of the past, what are you doing? Revising history? Seeing the past through rose-colored glasses? Seems innocent, but how innocent is it really?

Years later, your children may come across touched up pictures of you from your youth. Let's say they made you look a few pounds slimmer in the photos. Your children may aspire to look like you, or at least that fictitious you, and eventually may accomplish the goal. So, basically you've set in motion a chain of events where your children might work to keep a better figure than you did, in a way you've done them a favor, right? Lets say that your daughter, now twenty and looking exactly like fictitious you, happens upon that outfit you were wearing in that picture, and tries it on. Suddenly the outfit is a couple of sizes bigger than it should be and she's swimming in it, that's a weird bit of cognitive dissonance. Right there your child might lose respect for you, for deceiving them all these years. What if she tortured herself to be as slim as you were in this picture? What if she earned it through a lot of sweat and tears? Yeah, she may be healthier or better off, but she just lost faith in everything you ever taught her. Maybe all of it, all of the life lessons, the morals were just touched-up stories? Is it worth it?

What it comes down to is this: When you can remix history to conform to your ideal rather than the reality of the past, you end up with a fairytale that sounds good at first but can have both subtle and serious repercussions down the road.

Yeah, when we're talking about creating art or marketing, then photo touch-ups make sense, but the same examples still apply. Look what we're doing to ourselves by exposing ourselves to non-stop fairytale touch-ups everywhere we look.

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