“Working that Photoshop” on Elsa

Text and Screenshot by K. Cecchini

We babysat our 5 year-old niece last weekend, and like many young girls in the United States right now, she has been indoctrinated into the perfect pink world of the Disney princesses. So of course, we were treated to renditions of “Let it Go” and a parade of trademarked items from the Frozen merchandise empire.

We spent a number of hours doing kid stuff with her; colored shells from her uncle’s clam snack, made collages for each other with paints and magazines, read books and played her uncle’s BATMAN Lego game (yes, my husband’s). This morning, she asked for our tablet because she wanted to look for Elsa videos.

A recent entrant into Kindergarten, she’s had numerous new skills to impress us with, which were topped off by her adeptly typing in “E-L-S-A” on the keyboard and delving into the unending hole of YouTube with remixes, clips and spoofs. As the spoof trail led to more adult princess humor, my husband offered to let her pick a free app download.

Enter the Frozen Queen Salon Games.

Then, enter the horrified aunt.

It’s bad enough that the Disney princesses are created in the vein of perfectly Photoshopped, hourglass models. Although I cannot directly blame Disney for the app itself, I watched as my niece cleared away “Elsa’s” pimples and blemishes with a combination of product and, what looked like a wand to uncover the porcelain face of Disney ‘magic’.

Our niece’s work to recover the preordained standard of beauty were reinforced with such brilliant pronouncements as “Spa is so important.” and “Pimples are gone!” – with the added bonus of a valley girl lilt.

In the way we are attracted to stare at a train wreck, I was intrigued. A quick search on the web revealed a slew of these applications, from the one that, whew, reverses age and all those unsightly wrinkles to restore youthful beauty to a perfected woman giving birth. In fact, the birthing graphics are so clean that the animated new mother remains absolutely untouched throughout the birthing process. With not a hair out of place, move aside immaculate conception, it’s the immaculate birth.

Much to the dismay of feminists of today and in earlier eras, our standards of beauty are only beginning to be broader while female self-image is hard pressed to evolve in 2015.

I wonder what could be in the way?

The horrified aunt will actually now, in desperation, reach for a pop song of all things to balance it out:

“I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top…”
-Meghan Trainor




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