A gay man's perspective: Lady Gaga's Photoshop controversy

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:44 p.m. ET

If you thought that Lady Gaga's new Versace campaign looked too good to be true, you were definitely on to something.

Lady Gaga arriving at the Billboard Music Awards.
Photo credit: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com

In the photos captured by fashion moguls Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, the "Poker Face" singer appears fit, slim and glamorous. However, the unretouched images, obtained by quasi-feminist blog Jezebel, tell a different story.

The unretouched photos show Gaga wearing minimal makeup with dark circles around her eyes and a pair of knees peppered with bruises.

Pretty as a pixel

Lady Gaga isn't the first woman to fall victim to the merciless fashion industry, which infamously profits from inflicting consumers with copious degrees of insecurity and body disempowerment. But one has to wonder: Is Gaga really a victim here? It goes without saying that Donatella, a 58-year-old woman who has transformed her own face into an abstract piece of art, is not interested in reality. It would be more shocking to see anything actually resembling a real human body in a Versace ad.

A growing problem

We often demonize the publishing industry for heavily airbrushing photos of women, but what happens when Beyoncé — a self-proclaimed positive body-image torchbearer and newfound feminist — photoshops herself thinner before sharing her selfies with the world?


Five celebs before and after Photoshop >> 

Last week the "Drunk In Love" singer was accused by fans of digitally enhancing her thigh gap when she posted a photo in a bikini to her Instagram account. And she's not alone; stars ranging from Britney Spears to Kim Kardashian have also been called out by their flocks of followers for 'shopping their selfies.

And what's worse? The epidemic is spreading.

A new iPhone app allows users to manipulate images to look thinner. SkinneePix thins the face with face-detection technology to trim off five, 10 or 15 pounds. What gives?

Lorde disses Photoshop and explains that flaws are OK >> 

Have we all sunken into a species-wide bout of clinical insecurity? The concept of editing photos isn't new and isn't hugely problematic. It is, however, quite sad that these powerful women feel the need to alter their looks to feel better about themselves. In any event, as we realize what a poor surrogate social media is for real interaction, and how damaging it can be to us in irreversible ways, hopefully we'll collectively refrain from it a bit. And if all goes well, we'll stop getting our ideas about beauty and self-worth from vapid Hollywood glitterati.

The next time you hear a blond-haired blue-eyed prototype whispering to you, "Maybe it's Maybelline," think to yourself, "Yeah, maybe. But it's probably Photoshop."