It's you, perfected!

There are many reasons not to read women’s magazines. One of the biggies? All the retouched photos. The genetic mutants we call models and celebrities can beat the shit out your average Jane’s self image, but Photoshop can chop it up with chainsaw. This before and after cover of Red Book from a few years ago thanks to says it all. In fact, Jezebel has made one of their crusades exposing the evils of Photoshop (here’s their most recent “unveiling”). One of the funniest commentaries on how fucked up Photoshop is when it comes to setting impossible beauty standards is this recent parody of a beauty product commercial by Jesse Rosten on Vimeo: “Just one application of Fotoshop can give you results so dramatic, they’re almost unreal…istic.”

One of the coolest — and yet still kind of similarly frightening — advancements in make-fake technology is a system developed by a bunch of University of Illinois grad students for their thesis which allows one to easily and amazingly render synthetic objects into photographs (just watch their explanatory video here in this NPR story about it). They don’t use objects that create a false sense of physical, human beauty, but you can see how this kind of technology could certainly continue to grow our society’s unrealistic expectations, much in the same way porn can give people a false sense of what sex is actually like with a real live human, or the way video games can glamorize violence and death. Which is not to say we’re against the occasional fantasy, the occasional special effect for entertainment purposes. But when you consider the direction we’re headed in and how far we’ve already gone in creating virtual worlds that have nothing to do with reality, it’s not hard to imagine that living in the Matrix could be a real possibility some day. Put that in your bong and smoke it.