“I’ll challenge you a little bit,” forewarns host of BBC Radio Sheffield Paulette Edwards.
“Ok-ay,” I say, hesitant at what may come my way on the live local show at BBC Radio Sheffield. I’m there to talk about The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence and her comment that “it should be illegal to call someone fat on TV”. As editor of a women’s sport magazine I was drafted in to give my views.
Being fairly new to the role I languidly sat in my chair happy to have a chit chat, get asked my views, and toddle off home.
“Do you use photoshopped images in your magazine?” Paulette asked.
I hesitated. After one issue a routine hadn’t exactly been established but I hadn’t asked for photoshop work not to be done on images. Had I inadvertently put out a magazine with photoshopped images? Had the graphic designer – my boyfriend – photoshopped images?
We hadn’t done any of our own photoshoots due to budget restraints – obviously, this is a women’s sport magazine after all – so hadn’t had full control of the images, but what of the supplied PR images? The stock photo library images?
I don’t know what the photographer did on their end to enhance the images, after all lightening and sharpening and blurring and removing photographer reflections is also ‘photoshopping’ but changing the shape of the person? I couldn’t swear to it.
After a beat I said, not to my knowledge and definitely not on my say so.
How about when you worked on lads mag Nuts magazine? Did it happen then? Ah. Well, and this is also true, I wasn’t in the design department and therefore had no knowledge whether they definitively did or didn’t doctor the images on women in the magazine.
I was working on the words, and yes there are some in the magazine and no, working there was not exactly my crowning glory.
On getting home I asked my boyfriend if he’d doctored any images in the magazine? “Of course not,” he said, looking at me quizzically.
I’d seen him spend hours nose-to-screen skillfully removing shadows from cars, brightening up a dull flat sky but never re-touching a person… as it were.
But what of the photos supplied by the public relations company? The stock photography images? I just accepted the images and presumed the sportswomen hadn’t been enhanced or smoothed or plumped or whatever.
So on answering the question if the photos in the magazine on which I was editor had been doctored, I said, not to my knowledge and never would I agree to it either.
“As editor of the magazine,” continued Paulette, ‘do you think you have a responsibility to make sure that the images used in the publication are not photoshopped?’
“Yes,” I said. “I think I probably do.”