We all know that images are touched up (with or without the permissions of the stars - see the Keira Knightly pic) and we also appreciate that it's our choice to make up or not (as colouring in our faces represents our home made version of visual effects!). What is shown here, though, is a bland, characterless doll-like image that pervades almost all the "after" photos.
Most of these women are hard working, determined and resilient. These personality traits are shown in the "before" pic but dumbed down and Disney-fied in the "after".
All hard or lined features are smoothed and the deeper setting of a mature woman's eye is highlighted back into youthfulness. This infantalises the woman into the compliant ingenue and disregards the strength and tenacity which brought them to the photoshoot in the first place.
What's worse is that rather than crawl out of this quagmire, we seem to be dragging blokes into it with us. When even the butch has been waxed, buffed and dandified it's no wonder that in our house we celebrate the geek culture for its passion and honesty.
Gather knowledge as you age so that your lines display the accumulation of your wisdom. Wear your make up as warpaint rather than as disguise. Show your children that this facile blankness on a magazine cover is the marketeers' construct of reality, nothing more than a visual snake-oil.
And, as ever, Enjoy Good Health!
(I think it's important to say that I posted this originally on Facebook. It received no comments or emogees but was read by a tremendous amount of people. My analytics showed that 5 times more people read this article than my average posts receive. I can only assume from this that people are interested in the politics of photoshopping but don't want to publicise their opinions. If it hadn't been for this unusual response I wouldn't have reposted it here so apologies if you've already seen this.)