How much Photoshop is too much?

It starts out harmlessly enough. Tweak the colour balance, adjust the light, change the contrast. Maybe you soften the skin, remove a pimple, brighten your eyes.

Oh, that nasty scar you got when you were a kid? It kind of distracts from the overall beauty of the picture. You might as well remove that too. Actually, come to think of it, your legs are looking a little pudgy and your bum is sticking out a bit. Might as well suck those in while you're at it.

Most of us have access to photo editing equipment. There's nothing wrong with using it. Every photo I publish on this blog gets a bit of tweaking before it goes live. I even run my images through some software before posting them on Instagram. Because why settle for reality when you can publish a romanticized version of it? 

But there's a problem here. 

Blogs and the people behind them are supposed to be different than traditional print media. We're supposed to represent normal people. But it's hard to settle for normal when you can so easily manipulate reality into looking a bit more perfect. If you're a blogger, you might have noticed that you are up against some tough competition. It's becoming increasingly common for bloggers to double as models and to work with professional photographers when taking outfit shots. The result? Pictures that look a whole lot more like they belong in a magazine than on a blog. 

Do bloggers owe it to their readers to present a realistic picture of themselves? Is it OK to use editing software to improve images that go up on blogs? If so, how far is too far when it comes to manipulation? I'm sure we'd likely all agree that what I've done below (to the pictures on the right side) is taking it a step too far. But is this the direction we're headed in? If there's an increasing pressure for blog pictures to look as good as images that appear in magazines then is this not the next logical step? 

By the way, I edited these pictures using a free app on my phone. No fancy skills required.