Rachael Leigh Cook says photoshopping is false advertising, should be a crime

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 08: Actress Rachel Leigh Cook attends the 17th Annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk For Women on May 8, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
I have to admit to only having the vaguest idea of who actress Rachael Leigh Cook was prior to reading these recent comments. She’s just not on my radar, so I asked Kaiser if she knew of her. She remembers her from 1999′s She’s All That, and says the film “was so horrible, it was actually charming.” Rachael seems to be doing TV work now and I guess she’s on USA’s Psych. Anyway Rachael was a guest at a conference on media impact on youth, and she was very outspoken in her opposition to the rampant Photoshopping that goes on in the industry. I really like what she had to say, although I find her stance a little severe.

Actress Rachael Leigh Cook has joined forces with Academy Award winner Geena Davis, The Creative Coalition, and Girl Scouts of the USA for a Summit in Washington, D.C to address the impact of media images on youth. The group addressed particularly the struggle girls go through reconciling media’s idealized portrayal of women with their own bodies and self-worth.

“I did not grow up getting told about how manipulated the images we see of women and girls out there are, and I think it’s an absolute travesty that young women are seeing what the media is feeding them,” Cook told Pop Tarts. “It breaks my heart to be part of an industry and part of a machine that really pushes out these images and propagates these really terrible standards that are false.”

This is something Cook, 31, can relate to first-hand. After completing her first film “The Babysitter’s Club” at age 15 in 1995, the actress battled her own body image-related demons.

“I remember gaining quite a bit of weight on the first movie that I worked on because, ‘hey, free food!’. You’re at that stage where your body is just changing so actively, so it was a natural change, but I remember finishing that film and realizing that I had gained probably 10 pounds over the course of filming which is a lot when you’re only 5’2,” Cook said. “I knew then that I needed to go and really try and get healthy. I went too far in the other direction and I worried my parents for a while, I think it’s fair to say. I think that it’s something that many, many teenage girls go through, especially ones that are achievers and ambitious. You’re looking for a sense of control, and when you’re in a really transitional phase in your teenage years, I think it’s a pretty normal reaction to develop food issues.”

The “She’s All That” star is now not only urging youth to go online and Google “Photoshop Tutorial” to learn exactly what experts do to the images of all the celebrities and models out there, but she also wants the American public to know that even papparazi snaps aren’t all they’re purported to be.

“Nothing that you see is real, even if you look at what looks like a candid photo of someone, anything can be done. It is false advertising and false advertising is a crime so why isn’t this a crime? I’m just up in arms about it,” Cook added. “People need to know that there are actual lenses that are put on cameras that make people stretched out. If you saw these actors in person, you wouldn’t even recognize them as the people you see on TV. It’s just all a complete illusion and maybe it should be viewed as art, the way that art isn’t real. The way that a picture of a rose can be beautiful, but it’s not a real rose.”

[From Fox News via Huffington Post]

I don’t think we should criminalize Photoshop at all, but some kind of small print disclaimer might be called for, i.e. “image has been digitally altered.” This will probably never happen, is too difficult to execute and I’m not really arguing for it, but wouldn’t it be interesting if all advertisements and magazines were required to include a link where people could view the original image prior to editing? Like just to show the reality of the original image even with lighting, makeup and hair? They’d come up with new ways to make the original photos more flattering, but it might cut down on the massive Photoshopping that goes on.

A commenter on one of our Kirstie Alley “weight loss” posts once pointed me to this Exif viewer which allows you to see how much a photo is edited based on file data. I don’t really understand how it works, but it tells you how many times the photo was edited and saved, which in the case of the Kirstie Alley legless weightless photo was something like 16 times. When we saw Kirstie again after she supposedly lost 50 pounds she definitely didn’t look as thin as she did in that photo.

So does Photoshopping give impressionable young people unrealistic body ideals? Definitely. Maybe with more awareness of how easy it is to digitally alter photos we’ll help protect our kids from the negative impact of those images. Even if you realize that the models really aren’t as thin and gorgeous as they look in the ads, they still have the power to make you feel unattractive, though. They also have the power to sell you crap you don’t need, and that’s what this is really all about.

Here’s that super popular “Dove Evolution of Beauty” video (thanks to KidGlue for reminding me), and here’s a link to more Photoshop “Makeovers” on youtube.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Actress Rachael Leigh Cook attends The Creative Coalition's Spotlight Initiative at the On Sunset Restaurant, Luxe Hotel on December 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Actress  Rachael Leigh Cook arrives at the Us Weekly Hot Hollywood Event at Voyeur on November 18, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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21 Responses to “Rachael Leigh Cook says photoshopping is false advertising, should be a crime”

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  1. omondieu says:

    Holy crap, RLC, where ya been?!

  2. Praise St. Angie! says:

    This is one of my favorite sites to see the after effects of photoshop.

    all you have to do is select an image, and then put your cursor over it to see the image before retouching. AMAZING stuff.

    http://www.glennferon.com/portfolio1/

  3. Blaster says:

    Dove can kiss my ass with their “Campaign for Real Beauty” crap.

    Their bleaching cream is heavily advertised and sold in places like India where being “light” is in. So they need to add a disclaimer to that phrase:

    Campaign for Real Beauty (In America).

  4. Roma says:

    Every time I see her I just think Josie and the Pussycats. “Oh my God I’m a trend pimp!”

  5. Sarah says:

    She is adorable.

  6. Alexis says:

    “Cook told Pop Tarts” Not that anyone cares, but I’m dyslexic and when I first read that I thought “Why would anyone want to to make COLD Pop-Tarts and what the hell does that have to do with the story?

    I totally agree with CB, Photoshopping doesn’t need to be a crime and the disclaimer probably will never happen. I think the best that can be done is more celebs speaking out and more vids like the one CB posted for awareness.

    Being 23, I’m not even a kid and I find it hard to feel attractive seeing all these “perfect” women. I always imagine that’s what guys really want and if they’re with me, they’re just selling for now, but they’d prefer the perfect beauty that’s in the magazines.

  7. Jacquie says:

    If they stopped photo-shopping so many people would be out of a job, but I really think they took it from evening out skin tone to thinning the person in the photo, I just don’t understand what is wrong with us seeing what people really look like.

  8. Feebee says:

    I’ve thought photoshopping (esp the extreme variety) has been false advertising for years. No-one minds a little skin tone correction, perhaps a minor cellulite fix but the job on Kate Winslet (Vogue?) and the Ralph Lauren ads that were a complete joke shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t know about the crime situation but what long term effect is this crap having on society particularly girls and women (but increasingly young men too)?

    You can’t say if you can’t handle it don’t look at the ads/photos. They’re everywhere!

  9. Obvious says:

    I love Rachel, i’ve been wondering where she had gotten too.

  10. Raven Sparrow says:

    “Even if you realize that the models really aren’t as thin and gorgeous as they look in the ads, they still have the power to make you feel unattractive ”

    Exactly, which is why it bothered me that Julianne Moore was all “not having a facelift or other” and then you see her all photoshopped without a single wrinkle at 50. Even if you know she’s been ‘shopped, your eyes see something else. I’m 33 and a mom and when I see photos of older celebrity mommies all looking smooth ,wrinkle-free, with perky breasts and flat bellies I have to tell you, it gets to me sometimes. I’d love to see them unshopped: with life’s lines on their faces and their saggy breasts and flabby bellies.

  11. Lenore says:

    In the UK it would be easy enough to legislate to make that disclaimer a requirement. We already have disclaimers in every advert – they run, if not exactly prominently, then definitely noticeably, at the bottom of every TV and print advertisement. “Cheryl styled with natural extensions”, “Penelope styled with lash inserts”.

    There’s such debate about this over here, even at the parliamentary level, that I fully expect to see “Image has been digitally retouched” running on ads soon. I wish they would just be honest and follow that up with “product will not achieve results represented by advertised image”.

    RLC is correct, it’s false advertising and should be illegal.

  12. Courtney says:

    please there’s always been Photo Retouching in hollywood get over it. as like not every celebrity is plastic surgery crazed for example Joanne Woodward only ever had a nose job and that was because she broke it once and it never healed correctly she never had her breasts done after breastfeeding her daughters nor a facelift and she’ll be 81 in February.

    Rachel Leigh Cook will never be in the same league as Ms Woodward was/is. so she should be thankful for her fame and keep her mouth shut.

  13. Jeri says:

    She did that great commercial with the black cast iron frying pan & fried eggs “THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS.” Puts her money where her mouth is.

  14. Liana says:

    I just hopes she puts her money where her mouth is and refuse to allow pics of herself photoshopped. Pfft, she’s so pretty, she doesn’t need photoshop.

  15. The Bobster says:

    Hmmmm, I like those boots.

  16. Anti-icon says:

    Can someone get this person on the ballot before Nov. 2. She is clearly the most level-headed of her star-let tribe. Photoshop is a disease on society.

  17. Gabriela says:

    Easy for someone that beautiful to say.

  18. Brooklyn says:

    Aw loved her in Josey and the Pussycats. Yeah I loved that movie, what of it? But she’s right, it is false advertising. However, the fashion industry feeds off of our desires. Our desires revolve around being skinny and flawless. Sad and painful truth. We get models who are 7 ft tall and 100 lbs because the dress is literally on a walking hanger… it just works out that way. I wish it were different.

    Still do your thang josie!

  19. Dannii says:

    I liked RCL before-i like her even more now!

  20. Connie says:

    I’ve been a fan since I was 10 years old. She was great in “BSC,” “She’s All That” and “Into the West” too.

  21. Lana AdEx says:

    Yes, there’s too much of photoshop everywhere. But I think it’s not going to change soon – people always want to look better than they’re in reality :)