A face only a mother can love

Sven Krumrey

Do you consider yourself vain? I don't. We're supposed to age gracefully, live in harmony with ourselves and not be vain as that would be foolish we're taught from early on. But looking at profile pictures in social networks I can't help but wonder how all of these people can look so pretty darn perfect. How can my neighbor that rather resembles Martin Luther suddenly ooze the glamor of Sharon Stone? What happened to the impressing double chin of my former work mate? And where did the wrinkles of my former training supervisor go? Looking at my own pictures I get the distinct feeling that something has changed.

Perfect beauty

I find it hard to look at today's magazine and album covers that unanimously depict perfect, statuesque people. When skinny models undergo further slimming with the help of computers something is very wrong. If you look at old images of Freddy Mercury, the Stone or Elton John you'll realize one thing - humans aren't perfect, not even close. These past images tell a story of sweaty concerts, billows upon billows of cigarette smoke, all too short nights and weeping dentists, just very human basically. The stars of today are spotless, no pimples, no wrinkles, almost aseptic. Enough to make you succumb to the blessings of digital photo editing, at least temporarily.

Whenever we add a partner product to our portfolio I love to give it a try, I like software after all. Same with Portrait Pro 12, a digital retouching tool for those who don't get along with Photoshop. Everything's easy, it comes with automatic shape recognition and handling is done through a few sliders. Photoshop aficionados may turn their noses but I just want decent results fast. May others find their calling in handling 20 image layers with 100 possible filter settings, I just don't have patience for that. Image editing shouldn't take longer than a commercial break.

Do you recognize this woman? Do you recognize this woman?

I'd rather fire up my application, load an image and - Tada! - the application even detects my face. A notable achievement since I was rather overtired, unshaved and squinted into the camera. It takes two clicks for me to lose control - all these wonderful sliders! Where other applications expect you to click your way through a dozen layers this one does everything from eye enlargements, skin cleaning and - lets call a spade a spade - face slimming with a few sliders. That's where things get dynamic.

Because there's a weird feeling of being pulled in by the application. At first, I get rid of a few laughter lines, drag to narrow my face just a little and in with flashes lighting up the evening sky, there is a bit of Frankenstein in all of this after all. With a few clicks, I create an entirely new person. The soft, dreamy-eyed Sven with beaming eyes. The prominent, testosterone-fueled Sven with extra-hard exposure settings in black an white. The "my little princess" Sven with a ton of makeup, full lips and cheekbones to die for. And "Boy George" Sven after detox... Alright, that's enough!

Oh, Goodness! Oh, Goodness! OH GOODNESS!

Comparing the immaculate, fully optimized image to the original, I came to my final realization: It's a face only a mother can love. Suddenly, I understood why I never got to sit in the front row for class photos. But wait - digital photo editing affects the veracity. You're presented with a fake reality! Keep that in mind whenever you edit your images. Perfection may be just a few clicks away but at what point is it no longer you? How far are you willing to go to please others (and yourself)? I for one have made my decision - hello wrinkles (for the most part), hello old age (not that old actually :) ) and I took the liberty of adding a gentle smile. And I took four pounds off but I'm planning on losing that anyway. Still - that's me, as "large" as life. May others shine in their spotless photos - we all know how they did it.

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