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What South Park can Teach us about The Harms of Photoshop

South Park has always been quick to take on social issues. In the episode, Wendy Testaburger shows everyone how photoshop can alter one's appearance to make one look more attractive. Instead of realizing the harm photoshop does, the boys think it is reality, and all the girls photoshop themselves to look more beautiful. Wendy tries to make people they are living in a fantasy. People call her a "hater" every time she does this and says she's "jelly."

Throughout the episode, Kim Kardashian is repeatedly called a hobbit because she is shorter and more overweight in real life but manipulates her image using photoshop. Kayne West tries to convince people she isn't a hobbit.

Wendy uses Kim Kardashian as an example of how photoshop creates unrealistic beauty standards that don't match reality and make girls feel awful about themselves. Kayne reads Wendy a story of how the Hobbit just wants to be beautiful and through the magic power of photoshop can be. Then a "jelly monster," AKA Wendy, wants to take that magic away. The Hobbit prays to God, who said that he would find the jelly monster and read her a story to melt her icy heart, which Kayne is making a joke about his God complex. Wendy breaks down and conforms. The last scene is her photoshopping her picture with a tear streaming down her face.


The episode touches on a lot of critical issues. Photoshop makes women and young girls feel insecure because the media constantly delivers photoshopped images of people with no imperfections. It also contributes to men having unrealistic expectations about how women are supposed to look. Study after study shows that photoshop is harmful to people's self-esteem. It affects both genders but disproportionally affects women, and at younger ages, something South Park did an excellent job depicting.

Something that needs more study is how photoshop impacts our romantic relationships. Having a poor body image can be a massive obstacle in a relationship and lead to its downfall. When men have unrealistic expectations about how women are supposed to look, it can obstruct healthy relationships.

South Park may hyperbolize how people view photoshop, but one thing is evident, people buy into the photoshop fantasy and that has real consequences.

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