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7 Famous Celebrity Airbrush Before & Afters: How The Media Makes You Hate Yourself (On Purpose)

Celebrity airbrush before and after

Ever feel like you don’t quite live up to the expectations you have of yourself?

I’ll never forget, a few years back I was chatting with a girl in her mid 20’s and talking about my health and workout regime, and how I was looking to gain some weight to be more “normalized” and just look like I was a healthy weight for my height.

Around that time, I was 6’2″ and about 135 pounds – like a female supermodel – except I was a man. It wasn’t the most attractive thing to women.

This particular girl said, “Well why don’t you just start lifting some weights or something?”

Now imagine my frustration when she said that, because I had been in the gym 4-5 days a week for FIVE YEARS at that point. And apparently it didn’t show whatsoever. It honestly didn’t, because I didn’t know what I was doing.

Thousands of hours of hard work, and I still really didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, and to be perfectly honest I was more concerned that women didn’t like what they “saw” of me.

Ironically, later on this would be really useful – my own body image issues have really made it easy to connect with the struggles of some of the readers here and my own clients and students – who are 90% women.

Most of the press we see in the news and on TV is about female body image usually, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that men suffer from this ridiculous body manipulation that the media does too – and men are having increasing levels of body image issues that are unprecedented.

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have an idealized version of yourself, and although I think it’s important to “just love ourselves” even if things aren’t going great, I just want to point out just how much effort the media puts into making us feel inadequate.

How The Media Willingly Lies To You

A pretty prominent “cover up case” that gained attention recently was Justin Bieber.

He did a photo shoot for Calvin Klein magazine, and some time later his (actual) photo was leaked.

Take a look at a few things that were altered:

  • His chest size (bigger)
  • His arm size (much bigger)
  • His head size (smaller – to match his body)
  • His… male parts
  • His butt
  • His legs

Celebrity airbrush before and after

Avril Lavigne


Celebrity airbrush before after photo

In this case, take a look at Avril Lavigne in a Russian Cosmo magazine:

  • Eye lines removed
  • Skin whitened
  • Forehead veins/hair lines removed
  • Nose touched up and area under the nose lightened to look more blemish-free
  • Frizzy parts of hair covered up

Faith Hill

Celebrity airbrush before and after

So let’s take a look at how she was touched up quite a bit:

  • Her eye bags and lines were completely removed
  • Her skin all over the body was lightened to look younger
  • Her face (and even hair) was lightened
  • Her arm size was cut in half
  • Her face was made skinnier

Kim Kardashian

Celebrity airbrush before and after

Let’s take a look at the work done here:

  • Her arm “wrinkles” were removed
  • Her waist is tightened up, to emphasize her bust
  • A significant amount of her waist bulge has been removed
  • Her cellulite on her legs was removed
  • Her legs were made skinnier

Kiera Knightley

Celebrity airbrush before after

Let’s look at some of the work done here:

  • The original (left) she has no bust, on the right she has a substantial one
  • Her face has been made smaller
  • Her face and hair was darkened
  • Her waist was significantly tightened up
  • Her arms were made skinnier
  • Her cheekbones were accentuated

This woman was skinny enough and they figured “eh, let’s just remove half of that belly just for good measure.”

Penelope Cruz

celebrity airbrush before after

What happened to Penelope Cruz?

Well, she got a boob job free of charge (they made them the same size too!).

They pushed in her waist to make it look thinner throughout.

She got a face lift, which is magically blemish free now. And guess what? Even her hair got lighter. They also made her breastbone protrude less, to give the illusion of her having a larger bust with a little more meat on her bones.

Megan Fox

megan fox

Ahh Megan Fox, the bombshell from Transformers. Surely there can’t be anything wrong with her, can there!? Whelp, as you’ll see, yes, she is indeed human and photo altering does a great job of covering up her skin blemishes.

It also magically changed her eye color from light blue, to dark (unnatural looking) blue. Her lipstick became more red, and even her eye brows got some retouching to look more done up.

So How Do They Even Do Photoshop?

You know I’m always kind of interested in what the process looks like and today I managed to dig up a nice video showing what it looks like in reality.

There’s a bit of an interesting video here on how photoshop can be misused.

Check it out below:

The Ultimate Consequences

To be honest? I think beyond just “accepting ourselves 100%” – if we genuinely know we’re doing things that aren’t good for our health, then we need to change. Yeah we need to love ourselves – no matter what – because we don’t really have a choice. But I don’t think settling if something really is wrong, is the right way to approach life.

It’s like having an extremely dysfunctional kid at school that’s causing trouble, and we just say to the teacher, “Oh that’s just how he is” – without trying anything to help him improve or get better. We can sometimes use it as a cop out. It doesn’t solve the problem, does it?

If we’re becoming sick due to our lifestyle choices, and we constantly choose the Oreos over having a nutritious lunch – something has to change.

But this whole media movement, and it is a movement, has one huge scary undercurrent behind it:

The feeling of inadequacy.

It’s the feeling that no matter how GOOD life gets, it’s NEVER good enough. It’s this insidious parasite that has been put in our brain by not only the media and major industries, but often by our friends and family.

It’s the whole “keeping up with the Jones” thing.

You’ve got green grass? Awesome. The Jones family across the street has greener grass, so you better hire an entire landscaping team for $300 a month to make sure you beat them and become the envy of the block.

Life purpose realized? hehe…

You’ve got the latest designer fashion purse and clothes? That’s great. Too bad in the spring catalog Coach is going to tell you that it’s out of style and you need the new one (but don’t worry – in case you’re not cool, we’ll have a cool new one next year too).

In fact, when you think about it our entire consume culture is built on CREATING the feeling of lack – and the health industry is no exception.

And what do you do when a woman is already beautiful? You make her intangibly beautiful. You take her eye bags, because she’s a human and doesn’t sleep well some nights, and you remove those.

Any and all wrinkles she has, just phase those out.

And maybe some little arm fat, let’s just push delete on that. Honestly, it’s like it doesn’t even matter what size the woman – or man – is before hand – you can make them look like whatever you want.

What I Wish Someone Would’ve Told Me

Listen – I’m not going to rant and rave about how you should just “accept your lot in life” the way you are – that’s not for me to decide.

That’s for you to decide.

Yeah we have to accept life. There isn’t a choice there – we shouldn’t resist what our current life circumstances are.

But should you constantly seek improvement – daily step by steps and tiny habits that get you closer to where you want to be, continually? Of course.

Life is a process of continual improvement, inching towards that ideal vision we have for ourselves. And it’s not fair for me to take it away from you – if you want to lose 50 pounds (or gain a few pounds of muscle/toning) you should do it. You should commit to it, take baby steps, and absolutely commit 100% to becoming the best possible version of yourself.

There’s a saying that the goal is irrelevant – the point of setting huge goals is because it turns us into the kind of person that can achieve that goal – and once we’ve leveled up our life, we are capable of so much more.

In fact, goals that once seemed impossible now seem like they’re just over the horizon.

That’s the best reason I’ve been able to find out for setting huge, dream goals that get you up in the morning.

What are your thoughts on this whole photoshop thang?

Want Help? Book A Free 30 Min Call With Me

I’ll help you come up with a plan for looking and feeling amazing… without photoshop :-).

In this weight loss & energy kickstart I’ll help you come up with a step by step roadmap to looking and feeling amazing, we’ll figure out what you need to work on (that’s holding you back), and come up with a specific plan of action for the road ahead.

You can see if this is right for you and leave your information here – if you’re right, I’ll follow up with you within 48 hours.

– Alex

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

8 comments… add one

  1. You should just “love yourself” if something is “wrong.” It doesn’t mean you can’t have goals to improve something you want to change, but it shouldn’t affect your self love. Would you stop “just loving” someone else because something was “wrong” with them? Shame and self hatred never helped anyone. Otherwise, we’d all be perfect. That statement kind of negates the point of your article.

    1. Hey Dani –

      “You should just “love yourself” if something is “wrong.” It doesn’t mean you can’t have goals to improve something you want to change, but it shouldn’t affect your self love”

      That’s a great point and what I meant, I guess I didn’t do a good job of explaining :-). I think no matter what we obviously have to like ourselves.. right? But if something is really wrong, I think we need to take the steps to change at the end of the day –

  2. With or without Photoshop, Adam Levine’s tatts are beyond hideous. Poor, stupid Bieber, he looked better au naturel

    1. Hahah Mel

  3. Thank you for this article! Once you open a magazine it actually depresses you because you have pores, you have untoned arms and jiggly tummy. Seeing Megan foxes skin and Keira’s tummy above made me realise that these people are in the industry where they do all kinds of things to keep their body at its best looking.. and still have ‘flaws’. So I should give myself a break for having similar ‘flaws’.

    1. Hey Joyi –

      Absolutely – and it can be tempting to think they look great all year round (and i’m sure some do), but in a lot of the cases they just look normal – but have been touched up to not look tired, etc.

  4. Whoa, this is crazy, I knew there was manipulation in photos, but not this much…On the other side of the coin, I wonder what it does to celebrities to see that their bodies are manipulated…they are human too so I wonder if it hurts their confidence at all. Maybe this is one of the reasons celebrities (Lindsay Lohan comes right to mind) turn to drugs and sometimes commit suicide cause everything is publicly judged.

    1. Ryan I think this definitely plays some kind of role for sure. I recently was reading something about celebrity self esteem, about how once they’re these big and famous figures, everyone else thinks they’re special, but they sometimes feel like frauds because they’re the exact same person – as we all are – even when they’re successful, rich, famous. So it can lead to this disconnected feeling which can cause some real issues.

      Honestly I wouldn’t “wish” fame upon my worst enemy… causes so many problems.


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