Sammy Nickalls
August 23, 2015 7:39 am

This year marked a memorable anniversary. It’s been 25 years since Photoshop, the well-known photo-editing program, entered our midst. When used with equal parts creativity and benevolence, Photoshop has acted as a crucial and essential tool, aiding in the creation of astounding works of art that otherwise would be practically impossible. It’s also been a source of laughter and entertainment, with Internet users creating visual jokes that leave us all in stitches.

But for all of the good Photoshop has brought our society, it has brought as much — maybe even more — bad. The negative effects of Photoshop have been insidious, but pervasive, creeping into our media, advertising, and marketing, impacting the body image of girls and women everywhere with the specific (and, for most, unattainable) brand of “perfection” it helps create. Yet this impossible standard is what is constantly spoonfed to us in fashion, Hollywood, advertising, and the media overall. In the wrong hands, Photoshop preys on our insecurities to keep us buying lipsticks, body enhancements, weight loss products, and flattering new clothing in order to reach this “perfect” ideal.

To combat this unrealistic standard of beauty, women like Tess Holliday, Rebel Wilson, Ashley Graham, and Melissa McCarthy have been taking a stand for body positivity for women of all sizes. Unfortunately, a group of people have been aiming to take down this movement by Photoshopping these very same women who have been emphasizing the importance of redefining beauty standards. Their first page, called “Operation Harpoon” on Facebook, described itself as “a collaborative art project open to interpretation”:

The page has since been taken down by Facebook, and the Instagram account (“Project Harpoon”) has also been taken down, but the Twitter is currently alive and well. The group has started a social media hashtag entitled #ThInnerBeauty that calls itself “pro-health,” encouraging others to Photoshop people that they deem as “too heavy.”

Others have also been participating in the controversial Photoshop operation, using the hashtag #ThInnerBeauty, to post their own “ideal” versions of women’s bodies — without any of these women’s permission.

“I think [the Facebook page] is pathetic, and their Photoshop skills are seriously lacking,” Holliday, who is regularly featured in the group’s Photoshop posts, told Us Weekly. “I actually laughed out loud [when I saw the pictures of myself]. The versions of me smaller aren’t even anatomically correct and my limbs are all stretched out like I’m made of Play-Doh. It’s ridiculous.”

Holliday, size 22, is the first model of her size to be signed to a major modeling industry, and she is also the creator of #effyourbeautystandards, a social media movement aimed to highlight self-love and the problems with beauty standards in society.

“People that do this kind of stuff will never get it,” Holliday told Us Weekly. “They need to work on their own issues and why they have so much hate and anger first. It’s disgusting, yes, but I can’t even take them seriously, and no one else should. Honestly, to me, it’s a joke. To Ashley Graham, Melissa McCarthy, and the other poor people who’ve been mangled by these morons, we’ve never looked worse.”

Though the Facebook and Instagram pages have been taken down, that hasn’t made the instigators behind this “movement” go away. In the past day, the Facebook page ThInner Beauty was started, which also posts pictures of women of different body types Photoshopped to be slimmer. There’s also an official website, a Tumblr page, and a subreddit called /r/thinnerbeauty, the latter of which the group members are discussing how to keep their “cause” going strong. A second Twitter, @Thinner_Beauty, has also been started.

The group operates under the guise that it’s all for “inspiration” and “motivation” to be healthy, but its actions prove otherwise. When the Facebook page posted a Photoshopped version of advocate for body positivity Slade Vegas, she asked the users to take it down. They responded with the Facebook Terms of Service and told her to “take [her] fat feminist tears elsewhere and rape yourself with them.”

“This is what I am fighting against,” Vegas wrote about the page on her Tumblr. “The incorrect structure of beauty forced down the throats of girls all over the world. . . They kept my tattoos but removed my scar on my leg. The kept my nose and cheeks but removed my chin and forehead. They literally took away every part of my body that was mine except what they deem to be sexually [arousing] . . . please take a stand with me and the other women who have been attacked by this troll and help us take them down.”

Groups like this may hide behind the idea that they’re “promoting healthy lifestyles,” but really, they’re using Photoshop to fat-shame — and they’re targeting women who have been bravely taking a stand in the name of self-love. They’re influencing young girls to obsess over their body and attempt to attain this fictional standard of beauty that they will never be able to reach, and shouldn’t have to try to reach. This group is fighting for women to view their own self-worth in terms of their physical appearance only.

“It’s abominable that this [Facebook page] is using my image without permission to promote themselves,” Holliday told E! News. “This kind of hit piece is exactly why I started #effyourbeautystandards. I am asking my followers to boycott this [page] and any others like it. Loving yourself is the most powerful message we all need to stand behind.”

We stand behind that message. We can only hope these people behind this hateful ignorance change their tune and do the same.

(Images via Twitter, Facebook.)

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