To Photoshop or not to Photoshop...that is the question

Level: Intermediate + (Second video might be more for advanced students, or intermediate students with lots of help!!)
Age: Teens/ Adults


  • Look at the cartoon. What message is it trying to convey concerning the use of photoshop? 
  • Say if you agree, disagree or somewhat agree with the following statements. Account for your answer.

- Photoshopped images are “digital art” in the sense that they are “constructed”.

- There´s nothing wrong with altering images in magazines/ billboards.

-  It is unethical to alter images to sell products.

- Advertisers sell “fantasy” because that’s what people want.

- Enhancing people’s looks through photoshop is cheating.

- Enhancing your look by wearing make-up, false eye-lashes, hair extensions  or even having - plastic surgery is cheating.  

- Images of perfect bodies have an impact on women’s self-esteem.

- Being bombarded with images of perfect bodies makes young people too body-conscious.

- Images of perfect bodies alter people’s conception of what physical beauty is and therefore promote eating disorders.

- Magazines should let readers know if images have been retouched.

- Image retouching or airbrushing should be banned in fashion magazines.

Work on Language


Join with arrows


  1. Eating                         a. line
  2. Misleading                  b. people
  3. Fine                            c. disorders
  4. Body-conscious         d. critic
  5. Negative                    e. advertising
  6. Outspoken                  f. impact


  1. Ban                            a. somebody’s image/ a product
  2. Enhance                    b. a complaint
  3. Censor                      c. a law
  4. Attain                         d. airbrushing/ the use of photoshop/ an ad
  5. Pass                          e. perfection/ a goal
  6. Take                           f. media/ a website
  7. Issue                          g. measures

Once you’ve matched the words with their collocations say how they may connect to the videos we’re about to watch.

Airbrushed ads banned in Britain (CBS news)

A. Watch the video and complete the mind map below.

B. Share your findings in a small group and then report what you've found.


C. Fill in the blanks with the vocabulary in the box.

uproar                    complaint                    watchdog           press release
outspoken             enhancement                  banned                 argue               whatever                     draw

1.      Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has _____________an ad featuring model Christy Turlington because of excessive airbrushing.
2.      The advertising _______________also banned an ad featuring actress Julia Roberts for the same reason.
3.      Britain's Advertising Standards Council has ruled that _______________the “before” L’Oreal’s make-up could never deliver and “after” like this.
4.      The move after Liberal Democrat MP Joe Swinson issued a ______________that the images were digitally manipulated and were "not representative of the results the product could achieve."
5.      Airbrushing and _______________is key to advertising. Every photo, especially for fashion and cosmetics is retouched somehow.
6.      Kate Winslet’s cover back in 2003 caused an______________.
7.      Kate Winslet has long been an ______________critic of unrealistic public images of women.
8.       The issue for Advertising watchdogs is where to _____________the line.
9.      Advertisers _____________ that they sell what people want.
10.  L’Oreal’s ________________defended the company by saying the lines in their ad where clearly visible.


Sex, Lies and photoshop (The New York Times)

Link: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/03/09/opinion/1194838469575/op-ed-sex-lies-and-photoshop.html

  • Watch the video and say if the following statements are True or False.

1. In France, public health officials and psychiatrists have been meeting to try to pass laws to ban retouched images in magazines.
2. According to Ken Harris, a Photo retoucher, every single picture has been worked on.
3. As far as Ken Harris is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with photo-shopped images.
4. Domenic Demasi, another Photo Retoucher, had to choose one of the four images he was given and retouch it for Lucky magazine.
5. Domenic Demasi is aware that the overuse of Photoshop is a world issue for people who grow up taking these images as their icons.
7. According to a 2002 New York Times article about body-conscious athletes, boys as young as 15 are "bulking up with steroids."
8. A University of Missouri study found out that looking at women's magazines for over 10 minutes had a negative impact on women's self-esteem.
9. It’s easy to tell whether a photo has been retouched.
10. The woman who’s doing the voice-over suggests including the retoucher's name in the credits.

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