Sociological Images has up a story about "reverse photoshopping." It's really interesting and you should absolutely check it out. Apparently, reverse photoshopping "is the practice of photoshopping models to hide the health and aesthetic costs of extreme thinness." (For what it's worth, I think photoshopping is photoshopping and I think the "reverse" is a bit of a misnomer.)
Anyway, they site this image of Cameron Diaz:
While the image of Diaz is not extreme, the differences are noticeable, particularly through the filling out of her thighs and waist. Here's a quote from the article about the lengths this retouching goes to when non-celebrity models are extremely thin:
Thanks to retouching, our readers… never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny. That these underweight girls didn’t look glamorous in the flesh. Their skeletal bodies, dull, thinning hair, spots and dark circles under their eyes were magicked away by technology, leaving only the allure of coltish limbs and Bambi eyes.This is pretty revealing. I don't want to shame anyone's body and suggest that the extremely thin models are disgusting, but I think we can all agree that these changes don't send a realistic message to society.
To me, this stands as further proof that as a woman, you just can't win. The issue here is two fold.
1) Stereotypical models' bodies which conform to the traditional beauty standard of thinness are still not good enough. So they are change. And, just like always, the images we are left with are, for all intents and purposes, fake.
2) It erases the toll that extreme thinness takes on a person and perpetuates the myth that being as thin as possible is healthy and best. It's the creation of a mythical "perfect" person whose body weight is extremely low, but doesn't look gaunt.