I Hate Overdone Photoshopped Celebrity Images

There is something very anti-beauty about photos where a beautiful female celebrity is wearing tons of makeup and is photoshopped to death. I have seen this several times on magazine covers, and my reaction is momentarily “Who the heck is this?”, even if it’s the most famous actress in the world:

kinda-Kate Winslet kinda-Catherine Zeta Jones
Extraordinarily beautiful women are rare. Whoever says “beauty is common” is talking about above average cuteness, like that of Britney Spears. They are the girls with optimally cute features you get if you superimpose 100s of regular women onto one face, and mix them. You always end up with a cute face with no flaws.


But most amazingly beautiful women are more than just cute. They often possess one unusual feature or two – far from the averaged result you get when you mix photos.

sophia loren

She kind of looks like a Persian cat, but no one ever complained about that

She kind of looks like a Persian cat, but no one ever complained about that

Makeup is used to exaggerate pretty features and disguise the flaws. It’s also used to exaggerate femininity. It can bump you up 2 points on the SMV scale, or do the opposite if you do it wrong. Roissy once wrote an article where he predicted 6 and 7s get the most out of makeup, while the ugliest and the most beautiful get the least. Since makeup disguises deviations from the averaged result, it makes us look more the same. Less “deformed” if you will. But women with unusual beautiful features just end up having their beauty hidden by overdone makeup and photoshop. And I just hate when they do that. It’s like if National Geographic editor decided the Afghan girl’s eyes are too bright and her expression too tense, and photoshopped brown eyes and a smile on her for the sake of pleasantness. It’s a crime against art.

Afghan Girl

This is also the reason why I abandoned the manga drawing style. Not saying it can’t be great art, but most fan artists make it look samey and boring.

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17 Responses to I Hate Overdone Photoshopped Celebrity Images

  1. Liz says:

    I agree with you that photoshop is overdone, but it’s rare to see a women who actually looks better without it. Even the most beautiful women. You are right, Kate Winslet and Catherine Zeta Jones don’t look like themselves…but I’d bet a fair amount of money that they look far better in those photos than real life.
    I’ve seen Megan Fox on set and she looks very much like many of the girls I went to highschool with. She is beautiful, but some of the girls at my highschool were actually quite a bit more beautiful.

    • emmatheemo says:

      Kate and Catherine are older now, so I can understand photoshop making them look better. Not sure I can agree on the other two (Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot). Did they have much photophop back then? (especially in movies) They are wearing makeup, but it makes their features more of what they already are, rather than toning down the outstanding features.
      And I logically understand that photoshop makes everything looks nicer and smoother, but my taste is often repelled by it when I see it. There is something cheap about complete lack of disorder in a picture, but that’s just me.

    • emmatheemo says:

      Liz, I think it was you who once said “If all women looked like Natalie Portman, a fat woman might become very popular with the men”. I’m saying something similar, except about my own eyes, and it’s less about sexual attraction and more about art and beauty.

      • Liz says:

        Lol! Yes, that was me. Point taken.

        BTW…they didn’t have photoshop “back in the day”, but they did have a lot of techniques for removing flaws from photographs. Also, light is important (my husband is an amateur photographer…he has taken pictures of me that I would swear are airbrushed, but he tells me they aren’t (with a couple of exceptions). A LOT can be done with proper use of light and shadow.

      • emmatheemo says:

        Indeed a lot can be done with a normal camera and a skillful photographer. It’s far from photoshop though, which is routinely overdone and looks too squeaky clean. Come to think of it, I’m also a fan of old special effects (when they work), and feel a bit bored with all the CGI in movies. I guess something in the brain is not buying what it’s seeing.

  2. Exfernal says:

    Very distinctive limbal rings in the eyes of the Afghan girl. Vermilion border not covered with lipstick is an attractive feature as well.

    • Cipher says:

      Ha! I remember heartiste had a post comparing 15 year old Afghan girl and 30 year old Afghan girl, and he forgot to mention that her limbal rings had visibly faded.

      Until I learned about makeup I didn’t really get Rollo’s assertion that “every woman is a red pill woman.” Heartiste tries to deliver the message that youth is fleeting and men only care about looks in an soul-blistering mean-spirited way, but I can’t imagine how his message would be new to any woman skilled in makeup artistry and seeing the large change in male behavior before and after makeup or just hearing guys compliment her “natural” features.

      There just seems to be an inexorable gap between stated preference and revealed preference for most women, I suspect it’s a feature and not a bug, a necessary part of emotional intimacy is a man telling you he likes you for you and not your parts; on a porn star forum all the stars stated that they wanted to be loved for their personalities, they wanted a guy to really care about their favorite color or what music they like. A lot of men in the sphere think that if they show enough “evidence” and argue patiently and persuasively enough that will bring women to their side, but I can’t help think that most women know more than they do on a practical level, but can’t accept it intellectually. Fat shaming week or articles on how men like thin women will only make people angry. I highly doubt there is a single fat person on earth who doesn’t know on a practical level that other people don’t like them because they’re fat. They’ve been shamed all their lives.

      I suspect the cognitive dissonance is strongly neurological so no amount of argumentation will solve anything.


      And probably it’s for the better. What if squirting cold water into the left ear canal made women consciously pursue the explicit strategy of using the state to organize a hypergamous dys/utopia? “Yes, I’ll support social democrats for high taxes on betas to subsidize alpha harems I’m a part of, I’ll get pumped and dumped by men of higher SMV then marry a beta, falsely accuse him of abuse, cuckold him and take away all his money and ride the carousel like Major Kong rode the atom bomb in Dr. Strangelove.”

      I mean, no woman thinks like that. The only person who has confessed to having such sentiments (sometimes) that I know of is the MtF tranny Ozy Frantz, which tells you a lot.

      • emmatheemo says:

        I think when you shame people, they tend to dig their heels in. Maybe even start associating exercise with nasty mean people. So in a way, exercising becomes a sign that mean people won. I know someone who hated a particular healthy habit, and couldn’t understand why, and then realized it was because their abusive parent was always pushing it on them. There is a lot going on in our heads that are hard to understand, until you read up on psychology. We’re vulnerable to harmful associations, and our reasoning is full of fallacies, which are only resolved if you read a book that points it out…

        I think most of us want to be loved for who we are on some level. Guys don’t want to be loved for their money or social status, which can be ruined and isn’t an intrinsic part of them. So it’s not surprising a woman might want the same.

      • Cipher says:

        I mean, look at FeministX. She’s read Heartiste thoroughly, and she hasn’t gotten anything out of it. She hasn’t apply the concept of hypergamy to herself and her music producer boyfriend and dumped him sooner to marry a good man ASAP. She’s still following the hamster script perfectly. She’s 31/32 years old, and her latest few posts are a pitch perfect example of the “nexus of entitlement and self-preservation” sentiments Heartiste ascribed to women in the 31-34 age bracket. The pitch is so perfect that it I’d suspect it was auto-tune if the voice wasn’t so real.

        Heartiste has said some pretty mean and vile things but she only gets worked up when he says that Indian women are ugly. There was a feminist on Twitter who said that Kanye’s music videos where women are cut up doesn’t bother her at all, and that it hurts her far more when men imply that mid-20s women are kind of over the hill.

        One thing about theory and practice is that usually you expect theory to not work so well in the real world, so when a theory matches so dizzyingly perfectly with reality you get suspicious.

        I think one function of all the mean-spiritedness isn’t a miscalculated effort to persuade women, but a calculated tactic of excluding them, because once a community has absorbed enough women, they get social capital from getting people to like them, being friends of the members of the community, and dating influential male members of the community. You see this with Alicorn from LessWrong. She could shut down the conversation on PUA single-handedly because of all the social capital she had from dating two of the most popular male contributors in the community in addition to being a popular poster there.

        But I digress. I always thought it was odd that teen girls often had a splotchier facial complexion than their 20-something peers and wondered if for some women their skin gets smooth and rosy as they age. That was before I learned about blush. It’s depressing how brief the window of peak beauty really is. Someone should write a post about how affordable, better makeup has allowed women to marry later, because the aging you experience from 18-28 are mostly things you can correct (at least somewhat) with makeup. 30+ aging effects are much harder to hide.

      • Liz says:

        That Afghanistan woman obviously led a very hard life. That’s not normal aging. She looked closer to fifty than thirty.

  3. Gordon says:

    Do you place more blame on the make up artists being not skilled but makeup intrinsically?

    Heartiste said that 1% of the female population has unearthly beauty that shines without makeup, but I think even for the 1% it’s just makeup not expertly applied enough or the fashionable makeup being ugly. My opinion is that the real figure is maybe .00001% or zero. If you search “model metamorphosis,” I’m sure you’ll find whichever model that you favor look better with non-obnoxious makeup on than with no makeup on at all. I found Andreea Diaconu to look better marginally with makeup on, and she has the most gorgeous, perfect face I can think of. The only example I can come up with, maybe, is Sigrid Agren but I haven’t seen her with good makeup yet. If I delve deeply enough into a model’s oeuvre I’ll find the right combination of lighting and makeup that makes truly ethereal.

    He says that makeup has diminishing returns as you’re more beautiful but I’m not so sure. Sure, the diminishing returns is true in terms of SMV points, but as SMV gets higher the differences are magnified, you can increasing returns in terms of psychological feeling per unit of difference.


    “Finally, we must note that there is one other group of rarified women whose ethereal beauty provokes a “narcissism of small differences” reaction in men: the hard 10s. 5s, 6s and 7s may cause some minor disagreement among men by dint of their numerical advantage in the female population, but hard 10s provoke the most heated disagreement. One man’s 10 is another man’s 9.5, and GODDAMNIT he is going to let you know that 0.5 points makes all the difference in the world. Male personal whim tends to get exaggerated to outsized importance when contemplating the beauty of truly exquisite creatures.”

    As a man, I can tell you that this narcissism doesn’t apply to just faces.

    If you watch the Michael Kors runway shows (they’re on YouTube) you’ll see that even the prettiest of models aren’t exactly perfect and can benefit from makeup, it’s just that in almost all cases 1. their own makeup skills are great enough to make a noticeable improvement of their own face, such that the good and the bad of makeup cancels out for them or 2. the trendy makeup or look is intended to be obnoxious and not beautiful. Kors follows a classist style in his makeup too so you don’t see it. I was surprised when I saw his show because many of the models there were far more beautiful than I had seen anywhere else. I’d never liked Candice before.

    If you consider stylized photography to be photoshop, I think that good photoshop can enhance even the superlatively beautiful, it can give the person a fairy light aura that real life lighting can’t match cf Diaconu’s first shoot with Bailey in the WSJ or her Paris Vogue shoot with Anja Rubik. Or to take an example from cinema, Irene Jacobs in Three Colors Red or Veronique, or Michelle Reis in Fallen Angels.

    I dunno, I’m firmly in the “good enough makeup/photoshop can improve just about anyone” camp.

    • emmatheemo says:

      I wasn’t sufficienty clear. Makeup can make the most beautiful more of what they already are. Bad makeup will make them look “perfect”. The latter type of makeup will make 99% of women look better, but not those exceptionally beautiful ones.

    • Emma the Emo says:

      I think there are some girls who look best with no makeup at all (have seen a few), but they must have perfect skin, great features, naturally redder lips and they are probably under 18.

  4. Gordon says:

    First line should be “Do you place more blame on the make up artists being not skilled enough or makeup intrinsically?”

    There are probably more typos as well.

  5. :-P (tongue in cheek) says:

    Without tons of makeup old crones in their early twenties could never hope 2 compete with young women in their early – mid teens (yes, young WOMEN. teens are ADULTS, and if you disagree you are a mangina/feminist or Karl Marx reincarnated)

  6. BADgirlinurDoor says:

    The last picture u shared and said about over photoshopped ..is a girl from Bangladesh and she is famous for her green pupils . I think u just web searched without any kind of research .I think you must be careful while sharing images when you are writing an article specially “”about images being photoshopped ” 🙂

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