4 things I never see in "photoshop-free" pictures.

  • By Catherine Clavering

4 things I never see in

4 things I never see in "photoshop-free" pictures.

In the last year or so I've noticed a bunch of pree releases trumpeting about  "photoshop-free" fashion shoots as if this is some sort of fabulous fix for all our body image woes.

In shock news, I get annoyed about this. Fundamentally, photoshop-free is NOT the same as diverse or realistic, but it gets used as code for that.

Many are the sins you can commit with photoshop, but photoshop-free doesn't mean imagery is any less idealised or any closer to what people look like out there in the world. Here's a bunch of things I see everyday that mysteriously never feature in "photoshop-free" shoots.  The only body I see everyday is mine, so, like, hi, basically. Scuse the phone cam shots :)


1) Body Hair

Speaking as a hirsute woman (I'm also short and grumpy, so I reckon early exposure to ewoks was possibly a mistake on my parents part), body hair seems to be amazing taboo in every image everywhere, bar a small niche bit of the sex induustry (you can find ANYTHING fetishized somewhere, ironically making the home-grown pornography industry of the UK possibly the only palace you can find true body diversity, in a very peculiar way)

By the way, normally we cover this up for shoots using cream opaque tights(pantyhose) under my stockings. But hey, photoshop-free!


2) Bruising

I have a haemophilia-type disorder and generally have a smattering of bruises, though sadly I couldn't get a good shot of any for this. Most of the glamorous cabaret, circus and burlesque performers I know have bruises from practising, stairs (London venues are strangely homicidal in architecture) and lugging large suitcases on and off nightbuses, experiences many models also go through. Yet mysteriously bruises never appear in photoshop-free shoots.

It's marginally possible that lighting, make-up and yes, you guessed it, tights, are involved.

Anyone willing to send me a spectacular bruise picture? Go on, you know you want to :)

Edited to add an exciting picture from Poppy! She says "the bruise is courtesy of daily fragmin (lightweight heparin) jabs into my belly. The belly is courtesy of chocolate ;) "



3) Wibbly fat bits

I refuse to use the word cellulite because I'm not sure it's even an actual thing (from Wikipedia: "Its existence as a real disorder has been challenged,[6] and the prevailing medical opinion is that it is merely the "normal condition of many women".")

But have you noticed how it never appears even in photo-shop free shoots, even with plus size people? For some reason all women in shoots have lovely smooth skin. Now, do I think that's from the moisturising soap they are advertising, or is it more likely that there are other ways to avoid photographing people who have it, or avoid photographing the places they have it, or cover it up without photoshop?


3) Scars

I wish I'd got mine from something cool like Roller Derby or Parkour, but boringly they're just from pre-diagnosis, when I had minor procedures that resulted in infections (welcome to what happens when your blood won't clot).  Similarly, skin problems generally don't feature in any photoshop-free shoots. It's considered radical when someone shows a youthful model with folds in her skin that occur naturally in a pose, and crinkles round her eyes when she smiles. I would actually award points for the folds, but seriously, it's not radically different to all the other smiling youthful perfect skinned model pictures out there.


4) Dead eyed tiredness, poor lighting, zero make-up and unstyled hair

OK, so that's 4 things, but I didn't think I needed 4 pictures of my face to illustrate those.  And let's face it, I can understand that dead-eye tiredness will never be a seller. But isn't it slightly ridiculous to spend 4 hours carefully doing "just woken up hair", make-up and lighting, and then get excited because there's no photoshop?


I don't find photoshop-free shoots particularly helpful for my mental wellbeing. What I found helpful was:

1) learning about ALL the processes that go into those images. And exactly how boring it is. I have zero desire to be a model.

2) learning that even models don't look like models.  Actually, some of them look even better in person, whilst others  are barely recognisable. The move from 3D to 2D does unexpected things.

3) why would we even value ourselves based primarily on looks?

4) before photography was economically viable, there were illustrations, and they were just as silly. I mean, no-one has boobs this shape. But the thing is, ALL marketing images are just illustrations. The photos aren't any more real than the drawings, paintings or digital art. It's just pretty pictures. I can't explain why very well, but that shifts things in my head.


How about you? What do you never see in photoshop-free shoots that gets your goat? And what do you find helpful?


1956 Fredericks of Hollywood catalogue, kindly provided by the ever-lovely Jane from Silk Dreams


Edited to add suggestions in pictoral form!

Esther sent me this photo of what happened when she spent an afternoon in a park. Strangely, no outdoor shoots ever depict insect bites.

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