Retouching Beauty, Retouching Culture?

By , on October 15, 2014


Photoshopping the Candidates of Miss World Philippines 2014

Miss World candidate Kristine Angeli Estoque (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)
Miss World candidate Kristine Angeli Estoque (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)

The “could be” mentality has invaded our minds. Her hair could be shinier, her waist could be smaller, her breasts could be bigger, his abs could be more pronounced, her thighs could be thinner, her skin could be fairer.

The process of digitally enhancing someone’s appearance has become a habit, especially in the entertainment and advertising industries. Even the biggest Hollywood celebrities have fallen into Photoshop-hungry clutches of photo editors—some by choice, some by sheer duty.

In the recently concluded Miss World Philippines 2014 competition, the candidates’ photos—shot by “renowned photographer Pancho Escaler”—have drawn ire from netizens in the Philippines and across the globe. Some even say that it was manipulation gone way too far.

Miss World candidate Jahziel Pernia (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)
Miss World candidate Jahziel Pernia (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)

On the day of the coronation, October 12th, Michael Zhang of PetaPixel.com published an article about the alleged manipulation of the candidates’ photos. According to Zhang, a “tipster” informed them about the official portraits of the candidates being heavily Photoshopped. The same tipster said that the person responsible for the said images “must’ve been bored or high when he post-processed these photos.”

The pre-pageant photos were taken about a month before the coronation night. It was first published on Yahoo! Philippines on September as part of the series of photos meant to promote the pageant. It was also in Yahoo! Philippines where the same photos were shown on October 1st in an article questioning the post-processing of the images.

The photos inevitably circulated online, even making its way to www.psdisasters.com—a website dedicated to showcase Photoshop fails all over the world—and big names like Cosmopolitan and The Huffington Post.

Miss World candidate Priscilla Kimberley Dela Cruz (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)
Miss World candidate Priscilla Kimberley Dela Cruz (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)

“They’ve [the candidates] have been airbrushed within an inch of their lives,” said the PSDisaster article.

The candidates’ skin appears to have been airbrushed—a commenter used the words “sandblasted smooth”—to give off the appearance of smoother and somewhat fairer complexion.

The contestants’ facial features—especially their eyes—seems to have been manipulated as well to make them bigger. Perhaps the photo editor was trying to achieve a Zooey Deschanel look?

Netizens did not mince their words when it came to the comments section.

There’s the pun-tastic “happy foundation day!” (referring to the heavy application of foundation as a make-up base on the candidates).

Then there’s the sarcastic “please post also the name of the person who post-processed these photos. He has to be credited for this accomplishment.”

Miss World candidate Ranielah Marie Oval (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)
Miss World candidate Ranielah Marie Oval (Photographed by Pancho Escaler. Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Philippines)

And then there’s the exasperated voice of reason, “hindi masamang mag-edit or mag-photoshop, kung realistic pa rin ang kalalabasan,,, malayo sa katotohanan ito… sana makita ito ng management ng beauty contest… nakakahiya [naman].” (There’s nothing bad about editing photos or using photoshop if the output is still realistic. These photos are far from the truth. I hope the management of the beauty contest will see this. What a shame.)

As of posting, neither the organizers of the Miss World Philippines pageant nor photographer Pancho Escaler have issued a statement to address the issue.