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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 06/19/2007

Celebritology 101: Picture Perfect

By Liz Kelly

Nicole Richie's re-imagined baby pic. (Courtesy

Stars, they're just like us. Or at least they are over at, a fabulously wicked collection of PhotoShopped star pix. Behold a pudgy Angelina Jolie dancing in a cluttered apartment, a cheesed out Ashlee Simpson, Paris Kennedy and a shrunken Tom Cruise.

Culturally, we have an insatiable desire to buy magazines or browse Web sites filled with glossy pix of svelte, blemish-free, ageless hardbodies that look nothing like the real lumps of flesh we see in the mirror or next to us in bed. Despite some recent moves to feature "real" people in ads (Dove, for instance), we don't tend to spend our magazine money on pix tainted by the pesky signs of reality -- cellulite, zits and middle-aged spread.

The not-too-secret secret is a shadowy army of photo retouchers magically manipulating PhotoShop and a veritable quiver of desktop tools designed to perpetuate the images of a mythical race of superhuman celebrities and models. Height is added, waistlines are slimmed, colors are saturated and stars take on the unattainable perfection which we variously curse and covet. This portfolio of before-and-after shots*, for instance, show what a little subtle manipulation can do to take images of stars like Katherine Heigl, Cameron Diaz and Eva Longoria from so-so to sexpot (though I really don't get the Beyonce-cutting-peppers-with-a-machete thing).

Because the Internets just wouldn't be the Internets without taking the capabilities of these tools to the extreme, sites like have given amateur photo stylists a place to post abominations like these "detouched" pix, a collection of clumsy jpegs of celebrities retrofitted with bad teeth and acne. (Warning: I needed an antacid after looking at a few pages worth.)

PlanetHiltron stands alone, though, as a perfect blend of technical excellence and spot-on satire. My bookmark folder just got one site fatter.

*Apologies for the Russian link, comrades, but the site to which these pix were originally posted seems to be kaput.

By Liz Kelly  | June 19, 2007; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Celebritology 101  
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