The Woman in the Coffee Shop
This is Amanda, she is a new friend and a bloody gorgeous one at that. This is not what Amanda really looks like however, this is my portrayal of Amanda given a particular "look" I was going for. This "look" is a look that comes straight from a magazine. The world of artificial and unrealistic possibilities.
I don't have a problem with altering photos, because as you'll see not a lot was done to get Amanda looking this way. Yes I did make her a bit slimmer than she actually is, but isn't that my right as a visual artist? Now I'm not saying it is right to alter someone's image to fit a societal norm, but I will say because the nature of the look I was going for, it is perfectly ok. What I don't agree with is dramatically altering photos to represent something that they're not. Taking someone, be it man or woman, who is bigger than the accepted norm in the fashion industry and then making them look almost unidentical is a big problem.
Here's the thing, recently I was approached by someone who asked if I could alter their photo to make them look skinnier. When I asked what was the reason, she told me so she could find a date on Tinder. That comment hit me right in the feels on a very personal level because I know the feeling very well. I'm not in the dating game, but I know what it is like to be judged or feel down because of your weight or your perceived look. What doesn't help is that Tinder is a superficial platform that essentially encourages people to judge one another by how they look. Yes they have a profile, but let's face it how many people take the time to read the profile of someone unless they judge them first?
We are in a world where the value of who we are as individuals is less important than what we look like and intelligence is prized less. When the woman came up to me, I was shocked that those words came out. I was shocked because she is fantastically gorgeous and for her to say she wants to change her image to fit someone else's idea of good looking made me think really. Yet, she exclaimed she couldn't find a date and said because she saw me working on this photo she felt as though I could maybe help her. I was really at a crossroad because here I was altering an image of an already beautiful woman to fit the industry that I'd like to get into and another woman, equally as gorgeous is asking me to alter her image so she can get a date.
Where do I draw the line? What do I determine to be ethical vs what do I determine to be artistic value? I am fully aware that altering images goes part and parcel with the fashion industry. I find the same dilemma when searching for models for projects. On one hand I'm not a judgmental person and I feel that we are all beautiful regardless of the societal acceptance, but I also know that I need to have a certain calibre of models to be considered for jobs.
It's a testament to the world we occupy right now and how visual architects need to be able to craft work in a way that best accentuates their artistic value. I am not against altering images, I feel it is the artists' creative right to produce an image that they will be proud of and are happy with. You can't please everyone and that is a good thing because what kind of world would this be if everyone agreed on everything?
I wanted to put this out there because after that run in with that woman, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I eventually told her that I couldn't do it because I don't feel that she needed to change who she was so some guy would date her. If someone is going to judge you that way, that's not someone you want to date anyone. Besides, they're going to eventually know that is not you when they meet you in person. But it struck such a chord with me that I had to get it off my chest as I continue to question so much regarding the ethics behind image alteration.
Normally I would post photos on my Instagram because I own the images and I have every right to do so, but this is the first time I've had to take a step back and think about it. The first image is posted here because I had to ask Amanda if I could post it. I just couldn't post the photo in good conscience knowing that I altered the image in such a way. Below you'll find the original to the photos posted here.
To the woman in the coffee shop, I hope you find what you're looking for. I hope that you find someone who will love you in the truest of ways. I hope that person will see you for the beautiful woman that you are and will love you unconditionally. You are an amazing person and I truly hope you find your happiness.