Anna Hill’s Photoshop Project Pokes Fun at Overly Manipulated Beauty Advertisements


Photoshop takes a lot of flack in this day and age, especially when it comes to the beauty and fashion industries that consistently publish overly manipulated imagery. Often that ‘flack’ doesn’t give us much to laugh at, but a recent project by East Carolina University student Anna Hill does.

She put together four mock Photoshop ads that poke fun at just how far the beauty industry often takes photo manipulation.

24-year-old Hill made the ads for a final project in an advanced digital photography class, using herself as the model. Once finished, she decided to share the images on Reddit where they collected a massive number of upvotes and caught the attention of many a blog and news outlet.

Commenting on her Reddit post, Hill explained how the project made her aware of the biases that years of flipping through magazine ads have created:

One thing I noticed when I was doing these that when I suddenly went back to the unedited [image], it looked so wrong and kinda gross. It made me extra aware of how skewed my perception was after looking at the edited ones for a while.

Here’s a look at all of the ads she put together (click here to go to her full-res Imgur album):





The purpose of the project — one the editors of Photoshop-free Verily magazine would probably agree with — is, as Hill puts it, “to point out that we shouldn’t take things like magazine ads too seriously, because sometimes they ARE altered that much even though we don’t notice.”

To see more of Hill’s work — which includes everything from street photography to some very impressive digital art — head over to her website or follow her on Facebook by clicking on the corresponding links.

(via Huffington Post)

Image credits: Images by Anna Hill and used with permission

  • Mark S

    Typical student project….

  • Robert Mark

    I want to make sure I have this right — using Photoshop to enhance a photo is evil, but using a makeup artist is good?

  • MarvinB7

    I think the focus of the article was more toward truth in visual advertising. Her particular media was Photoshop.

  • Guy

    Photoshop didn’t do anything wrong

  • tgfhfg

    i think… aqwewewqewq polly polly this parrot is end

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    Making skinny models even skinnier? Yeah, that’s evil and leads to unrealistic body image problems for a lot of people.

  • Robert Mark

    Got it. So no more makeup or girdles or corsets either, because they alter the body image. Duly noted.

  • JReagan

    I think you added makeup artist is good part, I didn’t read anything about approving of makeup… and I don’t know of any makeup artists who can alter your physical shape.

  • Andrew Hollywood

    those photo shopped ladies look so much better.

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    You must not be familiar with the techniques that graphic artists use to unnaturally alter the bodies of models.

  • Mantis

    Robert. The dumb is strong with you.

  • Robert Mark

    Lighten up, friends. Just having a little fun pointing out the hypocrisy of criticizing Photoshop artists in light of the hundred years of image-manipulation using other techniques.

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    Which is what Robert fails to understand. Google “models before and after photoshop” and you’ll see how radical the effect can be. And many of these are on bikini models who can’t hide behind girdles & corsets.

  • guu

    but i love it!

  • guu


  • Scott from Montana

    Remember, Photoshop doesn’t manipulate images, people manipulate images.

  • Christian DeBaun

    I think Miss Hill did a great job with these. They are clever, witty, and provocative. The last 2 made laugh!

    Well done Anna.

  • CurrentCo

    I’m sorry that all these people commenting on your comment don’t know what a joke is :/ cheers friend.

  • Kent Harkey

    and the rude is strong with you

  • Songbird

    The (very obvious) difference is that people put on makeup and walk around that way. It becomes part of their actual look in real life. Photoshop makes people look different than they look in real life.

  • Matias Gonua

    The logic (or lack of it) of your question prevents any serious answer to be given.

  • Norshan Nusi

    I’m pretty sure a different lens choice will make a difference in the last shot.

  • Jake

    The difference is that makeup can happen in real life and anyone can do it all the time if they want. It doesn’t create a false expectation the way altering basic human physiology does.

  • nikonian

    Actually makeup can be very manipulative. Definitely Not to the extent Photoshop can but you’d be surprised what can be done with it.

  • Jake

    I’m not saying it can’t, and I wouldn’t be surprised because I’ve seen it. I’m saying we’re talking about the difference between an improbable truth and pure fiction.

  • Eugene Chok

    so does good photography

  • Mark Dub

    I am BEYOND sick of this discussion.

    Blame the ARTIST!! Not the TOOL!!!

    As creative as this is, it fails to do anything for anyone. I would love to see her take on a specific artist who abuses PS, instead of PS itself.

  • B

    Did you read the article?

    “She put together four mock Photoshop ads that poke fun at just how far the beauty industry often takes photo manipulation.” (This is a DIRECT quote from the article.)

    She is not “blaming” the tool. She is making a statement and “blaming” the beauty/fashion industry for the misuse of Photoshop.

  • Mark Dub

    Yes, I read the article. Regardless of what she said, the photos (which have ZERO relationship to the beauty/fashion industry) are a directly related to Photoshop. If you’re making a statement about the beauty/fashion industry.. i dunno.. maybe include them in the mock ads?

  • Manny A. S.

    Robert makes an excellent point, while we are at it we should not use good light to enhance people because in real life good light does not magically follow us everywhere we go. People need to realize that when staring at a static photo, one notices many imperfections that we do not notice in person.

    I have often seen models that are drop dead gorgeous in person, I light them with huge soft lights, and it is not until I view them on my screen that I realize she had a few small bumps and skin color variations that the makeup artist did not blend out very well. Of course, I will fix this with Photoshop, otherwise when others see my work, they will think I did a piss poor job because I made a gorgeous model look bad.

    For the best results, after I am done, I compare the retouched one to the original, if after spending time editing I lose sight of reality and it looks too perfect, I bring down the opacity until I get to where it is believable. My clients have never accused my of creating plastic models, they do not ask me to cover up her flaws more or less, they just think I am excellent at what I do.

    The samples she gave are what I do hate, eyes so white they glow, plastic skin texture, and trying to fix poorly lit and composed photos with Photoshop. On these examples I agree, they are horrible.

  • David Vaughn

    Please enlighten us to what an atypical student project would be?

  • Charlotte Stevens

    Personally I just think it is poorly retouched. As a professional I would probably do half the retouching that has taken place here. It’s the reason why we have professional models – they generally don’t need as much work, just colour work, clothes retouching, brightening ect. If you’re not as photogenic you will need more PS work to look like a model. I’m not saying you should like a model but people should just stop hating an extremely useful programme.

  • Charlotte Stevens

    you’d also be surprised at how often retouchers will often make a model more curvy and get rid of bones so your argument is invalid. Just another person making unoriginal images about a topic they’re barely informed on.

  • T’omm J’Onzz

    since you fail to elaborate and back up your critique as any first year art student has to do with his/her peers, we can conclude you aren’t one and yours is just a “typically dismissive, meritless comment.”

  • T’omm J’Onzz

    yes, but good photography is just that – good photography one can make a subject /appear/ taller or more defined with photography, but it’s still real. people can appear taller by what they wear or better or worse via good or bad lighting IRL. i love Photoshop, but in cases like this, in its abuse, it’s not illusion but fraud.

  • T’omm J’Onzz

    good luck dating one. #lotionandtissues

  • K. Garang

    Man… I’m getting a bottle of that Photoshop Beauty Applicator for my wife…

  • Eugene Chok

    high heels and forced perspective, i just made someone taller, your understanding of what can be achieved is close minded and limited, go tell the makers of the Hobbit that they can’t make people seem bigger or smaller, crazy if you jump straight to hating on PS you really haven’t conceptualized the possibilities of the camera

  • T’omm J’Onzz

    check your reading comprehension and try again.

  • Eugene Chok

    understand photography and try again

  • T’omm J’Onzz

    yeah, i only have a BFA, having concentrated in design and photography. #idiot