Your Call: What’s the Difference Between Make-Up & Photoshop?

photo via Flickr

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your deep thoughts in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!



I just read the question and response about the lady who felt bad because her husband had slightly photo-shopped photos he had taken of her nude body.  I thought your response was absolutely excellent.

However, this made me think a bit about photo-shopping in general, which is used, bluntly speaking, to present a version of the woman that is somewhat removed from the reality.

So, how different is this from women using make-up and other beauty treatments?  In my mind, make-up is merely ‘old-style low tech’ photo-shopping.

When a woman uses mascara, eye-liner, blush, and all the other things that guys like me can’t identify on a bet, they are altering their true image.  Yet, very few women will go out in public without doing this.

I’m not suggesting this is wrong, or a bad thing.  It is just the way things are.  And a bad or extreme photo-shopped image is terrible, just like overdone, or poorly applied make-up.

What do you think?


What do you think about Steve’s point? Leave your deep thoughts in the comments section below. Ours is this video:



  1. Make-up can be replicated in real life. If a woman uses make-up to enhance her appearance for an internet dating profile, she can actually show up to a date looking that way. Not so with photoshop.

    Also, women typically apply their own make-up whereas someone else photoshops them. I think that was what the woman who wrote the original letter resented – the fact that her husband touched her up, which she took to mean that he’d rather she look another way.

  2. First, there’s a real problem that the idea of “photoshopping” a photo is bad. While the verb “photoshop” is relatively new, editing photos is not. Ansel Adams is known as a great photographer. But, what the average college student who buys a poster of his work to hang in her or his dorm room doesn’t think about, is that his greatness lies in his printing. Through burning and dodging, he was doing the analog equivalent of photoshopping his images. As the technologies surrounding digital photography has grown, the average person can sit at their computer and drastically change reality. For example, spoofs of the video that Em & Lo have posted have shown this model turned into Santa Claus. The issues surrounding photoshopping an image turn on the unrealistic expectations it places on peoples (young women’s) appearance. The author who raised the question was concerned that her husband was dissatisfied with her appearance and was making changes to her image that he wished existed in real life (I tend to think he was either doing an editing exercise to see what he could do as a photo editor, or was trying to present a picture that his significant other would like, but I could be wrong). The use of make-up is different in that it presents an image of a reality that does exist at the time the make-up is worn. Digitally taking an existing image and lengthing the legs, decreasing the waist, increasing the bust, removing tattoos, etc. is not depicting any reality. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for this type of photo-editing, there just needs to be full disclosure where appropriate.

Comments are closed.