Wednesday, January 04, 2012

the battle of the january issues

you never hear about the battle of the january issues—it's usually the september issues, which is traditionally the most important month for glossy fashion magazines ("september is the new january," remember?)—because in the magazine world, january is the dead-est month in terms of advertising, and therefore, in terms of number of pages. so for two local glossies to be the talk of the town, to be trending on twitter, to be on every news show on TV—well, let's just hope this translates into sales!

i am, of course, talking about the january 2012 issues of mega and preview (jan/feb actually for preview). i have not seen either magazine "in the flesh" (i believe they will both be on newsstands by tomorrow), i have only seen them on facebook. and the immediate reaction of people on facebook, on twitter, on blogs, on news websites, and whoever feels strongly about it is "photoshop!!!" either that or the public is shocked at how different the two women look on the cover and in person—or rather, what they looked like before "science" touched their faces.

i am, of course, talking about jinkee pacquiao on the cover of mega, and charice pempengco on the cover of preview. you be the judge (click to enlarge—but only if you want to!):

full disclosure: i used to work in mega from 1993 to 2005 (12 years!), and in the early days of polaroid and film (kids, do you know what those are?), we relied heavily on the skills of the photographer and the makeup artist to get the perfect picture. plus, we couldn't shoot hundreds of frames like you can do now and just delete! each shot must be the potential money shot. and it was only after the film was developed could we see the results, usually in a contact print (a sheet with thumbnails), which we had to loupe (look it up), or transparencies we viewed in a lightbox. a good photographer knew how to light the model right, so he got the most flattering planes and angles of her face. a good makeup artist knew how to shade and contour the model's face to create bigger eyes, a slimmer nose, killer cheekbones, and an angular jawline, and still make it look natural. yes, the magic was all done in the studio or location. any post-processing was usually done by the photographer—by hand!

then when photoshop came into the picture (pun unintended), we used it to remove "noise" that distracted from the overall effect we wanted from the photo, and to allow the reader to focus on the subject/story, especially on covers. for example, if it was a beauty story, we had to get the red veins in the eyes out, remove any blemishes on the skin, maybe even whiten the teeth. or if it was a swimsuit story, you removed any unsightly scars and bulges (i used to call it liposhop—"give her some liposhop!"), maybe even lengthen the legs a bit. but we never did it freakishly so that people would notice and comment.

but that is the nature of the beast—fashion magazines are about fantasy. you don't buy them to see "real people"—you see enough of that on the street every day or, hell, even in the mirror. even when magazines feature "real people," they're still styled and photographed in the best possible light (pun intended). but every so often, magazines will feature "real people" as they are—models without makeup, chubby girls with pretty faces—just to prove that they are "in touch" with reality. but do you get the irony?

in the last few years, i guess some photographers and creative directors have abused the photoshop app. both mega and preview have released statements admitting that they did some editing on the photos, but just the normal amount (whatever that means these days). from my point of view, i see two women who were highly styled, made up and coiffed to perfection, and lit flawlessly—as they should be by the top fashion magazines in the country. and you know what? i don't expect any less. because who cares to see jinkee and charice without makeup and in their everyday clothes? and about the plastic surgery—well, that is their choice now, isn't it?


java jive said...

No need to publish this :) Just sharing.

As far as I - a glossy mag addict from my teen years - can remember, cover girls were always far more glammed-up than their real, off-cover selves. I always took the final photo with a pinch of salt. Yesterday, lighting, touch-ups, heavy make-up... today, photoshop. They must be cover-worthy, after all. I remember when ZsaZsa Padilla was just so kilig and honored to have been chosen as cover model for Mega a few years back. I just got taken aback with the Jan issues in point. Making the cover about controversial over everything (say, fab, glam, fash, style - else for a fashion/style mag is pushing it a bit. Makes it much more obviously a business decision, i.e., making the Jan-Feb ish sell. But then again, Preview has published more controversial and nakaka-sindak issues, with the likes of Vice Ganda on the cover, after all. But Mega?

In the end, it seems to have come out to be a contest between the two mags on who can glam up the most unlikely cover model better. Is it enough to make me buy the issues? Intrigued enough to go past the cover? Hmm.

Anonymous said...

So true! Enjoyed every bit of this article. Made me think, too.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything you said.

inkheart said...

I too don't expect less from a fashion mag to show Charice as Preview has done: "highly styled, made up and coiffed to perfection, and lit flawlessly".

At the same time, since I love Charice, I also enjoy seeing her "without make up and in her everyday clothes" :)

All these talk hopefully would translate into patronizing our local fashion mags.

Dennis said...

It's called plastic surgery. And these women earned their right to have one or two. Enough of the tired Photoshop issue. The behind the scene videos have proven that false cry untrue. Have you actually seen the videos?

Dennis said...

It's called plastic surgery. And these women earned the right to have one or two. Really now, everyone's a bit weary of alleged Photoshop issues. It's not as if Jinkee was born black, kinky haired and obese that Photoshop was used to alter her totally. And Charice wasn't born 6foot tall that a nose job would tantamount to Photoshop. Everyone has seen the Behind the Scenes video of these two magazines. Have you?

Anonymous said...

Criticizing Mega/Preview and Jinkee/Charice for this yet again is trite and redundant. How much a magazine or their cover models "edit", so to speak, to achieve a look should really be up to them.

I buy these glossies to see pretty/glam/fierce, and not with the expectation I'll look exactly like that without the lights and "science".

Here's wishing we'll soon move on without having to get our catty selves out to diss the flavor of the week. It's also probably not the best thing to make fashion glossies our only reading material for the month. :)

Anonymous said...

A lot of the hoopla is not simply crab mentality. I disagree with expecting magazines to simply deliver on fantasy. I don't know about Preview, but a big part of Mega's mission, at least as I've always understood it (and for which I respected it), is to bring forth a strong point of view about the Filipino woman's beauty and style and the Filipino fashion community's aesthetic --- to bring all this to the same playing field as other cultures around the world.

By contrast, the Jinkee cover shows a whiter version of her, with contoured-via-photoshop features to look mestiza and the furthest they've ever been from her real features, even the ones that plastic surgery couldn't "fix".

What message does that send to readers, especially younger Filipinas? That to be glamorous and beautiful a woman has to look anything but morena with indigenous features, even if she is barely recognizable?? Mega and Preview have the power to set trends and expectations, so don't tell me this is just about selling magazines either. I really hope the articles they write about these women are a lot more thoughtful, and that Mega sees this as a fluke.

the fash pack said...

thank you, readers, for your very interesting and intelligent observations! i posted this on my facebook and got a lot of reaction there too.

and sorry, java jive, hope you don't mind that i published your comment. you made some very valid points that just had to be shared :-)