Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Making a Manga Out of Life


My friend Gwyan sent me this link to Chris Scarborough's photography [click on "photography"] wherein he takes a picture of a real girl and then uses digital means to push her features closer to those of a manga (or anime) character. The result is quite startling.

I decided, for the purposes of the Media Literacy class I teach to 6th-graders, to make one of myself. In the body image section of the class, we explore how the media retouches all the images we see of people so that they are closer to the ideal set by the industry. Then I teach the kids how to use Photoshop, and they retouch their own image.

Maybe I've spoken of this before, but it's very interesting to me how the kids never try to turn themselves into a perfect and glamorous version of themselves. They always want to be aliens, or elves, or make themselves older, a different color, or even change gender. In any case, my hope is that they come away from the class with an insider's awareness of what is being done to all the images they are being presented with - and, as such, learn to take it all with a grain of salt, maybe even learn to dissect it a little. A lot of the ills of youth are based in the feeling that we can't possibly live up to expectation, and I feel the media is not helping this. So this is just my little bit of work toward fixing the problem.

In any case, it's so interesting to see oneself transformed into an idealized version of oneself. I am torn between horror at the result and a strange feeling that this is what I'm supposed to look like. I must be reading too many comics...

6 comments:

David said...

And I'm entirely unnerved that I'm holding my thumb over a disproportionately large eye in a photograph of what I presume to be a surprisingly attractive young woman because it makes her appear disturbingly childlike and elven. Massive cognitive dissonance.

studiolo2 said...

The problem with the pic is that it is covering your pointed ears! But also, you look much better in "real life." - VP Jean

Heather McDougal said...

Thanks, Jean! I will say, much more than the eye got changed, though - all manga/anime heroines must be teenagers and have tiny noses, of which I am/have neither.

But I agree about the cognitive dissonance thing, because I feel the same way about most of it. That's my eye! But what happened to it?! My hair is there, and that's my ear - but who shrank the nose?! And it's all so smooth and unmarked by life... the parts are almost right, but the whole is, well, weird.

Grace said...

I'm curious to know how you accomplished your own?

Heather McDougal said...

Photoshop, with lots of layers and plenty of use of the Transform command.

Aparna said...

I see all pictures of that website. It is very beautiful and also realistic.

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