Ah, the magic....

Not of Christmas ---- of Photoshop!

The family got together recently to take our annual family Christmas picture. This is a major feat, and the difficulty is compounded with every new individual in the photo. It's one more person who needs to have his/her eyes open, pleasant expression, hair in place, and all the other requirements of a decent family Christmas picture.

Now notice the picture to the left. Something is obviously awry.
I have my back to the camera, Ed is apparently creating mischief, Matt is either attacking or saving Sarah. The people on the couch are even worse! Is everyone trying to sabotage the photo I work so hard to create?

No, this is our "stupid" picture. It has been our tradition that after taking about 15-20 photos, for the final photo we are encouraged to assume "stupid" expressions and "stupid" positions for the "stupid" picture. It is the last photo of what is usually a lengthy and grueling photo shoot, and all involved are encouraged to let off some steam at having been made to sit for a long period of time with smiles on their faces.

Even in the "stupid" picture, you can see there is work to be done in the background. There are shadows behind the people standing up, a key rack on the wall and a framed picture that could be erased. Those (and other minor irregularities) were in the official photo, too. Not any more! Thanks to Matt, the geek king, I have learned how to use Photoshop and get rid of pesky things like pimples and flyaway hair (the flyaway part, not the hair, although I can do that, too). I can maneuver buttonholes, beards and bra straps. I can even add teeth! Hoo boy! I am invincible!

Seriously, though, my newly acquired skill did make me stop and think about the validity of this fact: We hear so often that the aging American woman cannot look at the models and actresses in magazines without thinking, "Why can't I look that good?" Well, heck, if I can do this minimal photo manipulation with Photoshop, I have to remember what the professionals can do with their editing software. The women you see in their photos don't even exist - at least not in that perfect form. I read once that those editors routinely enlarge the pupils of the models, creating a more "attractive" look. (And I thought inserting a tooth was the epitome of expertise!)

Just a reminder to all the aging women out there: Next time you see a gorgeous, perfect model in a magazine, say to yourself one word (and it helps if you do it with a moderate smirk) -