Annals of Airbrushing: How Much is Too Much?

My personal opinion is that almost everyone who looks at a celebrity portrait these days just assumes that it has been digitally retouched. And usually we just don't care. In fact, we actually want a degree of perfection in our celebrities, whether they're appearing in advertising or editorial layouts. I equate it with looking at cars in magazines. Who would want to see my dented Honda Civic (reality) when they could gaze at new Porche or BMW (fantasy)? Working in publishing, I also know just ho

My personal opinion is that almost everyone who looks at a celebrity portrait these days just assumes that it has been digitally retouched. And usually we just don't care. In fact, we actually want a degree of perfection in our celebrities, whether they're appearing in advertising or editorial layouts. I equate it with looking at cars in magazines. Who would want to see my dented Honda Civic (reality) when they could gaze at new Porche or BMW (fantasy)? Working in publishing, I also know just how much work a brilliant digital retoucher can do to a celebrity image. But retouchers (and the editors they work for) have to exhibit some sense of taste--we want our fantasies to be believable at some level. Clearly, the people at Allure went overboard in their new issue, which features a vastly slimmed down and cleaned up Britney Spears. (Go here for more images.) And now I read reports that beautiful actress Keira Knightly is unhappy about how she appears in the new Chanel campaign, in which she appear with ample side-boobage. Where do we draw the line on retouching? Or should we just shut up and accept it?
--David Schonauer