Ultra-Orthodox photoshop of horrors: Round 2
In May, the Hasidic Jewish newspaper, Der Tzitung, made a lot of people angry by photoshopping Hillary Clinton out of a photo in the name of tzniut, or modesty. Within days, the incident spawned a fabulous internet meme where people photoshopped women out of iconic images. The point that photoshop should not be used to erase or alter women in images as to rewrite history or reality was made ... or so we thought.
Yesterday, Failed Messiah and Heeb Magazine reported on a new photoshop disaster. Jewpiter, a kiruv (ultra-Orthodox Jewish missionary or outreach) organization geared to college students, photoshopped a stock image photo of a young woman to make her breasts and butt smaller and add a black three-quarter length shirt under her summer dress. (See image top right)
Failed Messiah goes into depth discussing Jewpiter's mission, describing the organization's methods as "deceptive" and "unethical." I do not know enough about the organization to speak to this fact, but their use of photoshop in this case is pretty deceptive and unethical.
Considering the ubiquitous sexualization of women in the media, I can imagine that it might be difficult to find stock image photos of young women that fit the standards of tzniut. So, even though I don't love the idea, I can understand altering a model's wardrobe with photoshop to make it more modest. What I can't understand or condone is altering a model's body.
Why did Jewpiter feel it necessary to bring this model down to an AA cup? Why did they feel it necessary to amputate her butt? The only possible thing to deduce from this is that they don't feel that womanly curves are "modest"--that the simple act of having breasts and a rear end is "too suggestive." This, of course, is a terrible message to send to young women, especially considering the fact that Jewish women are known for being stereotypically full-figured. Ultimately the effect of all this photoshopping is to make the model look thinner, which brings up a whole slew of body image issues for Jewish women. Let us not forget that eating disorders are a big problem in the Orthodox community.
Frankly, this use of photoshop is deplorable and says some really troubling things about ultra-Orthodox attitudes towards women and women's bodies. It also speaks to the audacity of the community to rewrite reality in order to make it fit within their worldview. Newsflash: Women are going to continue to have breasts and butts no matter how many stock images you alter. You're not fooling anybody.