As the controversy surrounding Kate Winslet's 'unrealistic' Vogue cover rages on, I meet with a world renowned high end retoucher, Pratik Naik (Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, FHM, Cosmopolitan and The Observer) to discuss aesthetics, ethics and the more technical aspects of beautifying subjects on commission.
The medley of today's media is unprecedented. While Britain's biggest publishers find themselves in similarly unparalleled levels of turmoil - shrinking revenue, the threat of state regulation, and a growing tendency to aim their guns at each other - the range of outlets beneath them is fragmenting like light through a prism.
Supposedly, we live in a time where feminism is high and women want to empower other women. However, how is it that women seem to be the ones putting other women down about how they look? When you look at female magazines, they are the ones presenting women as being stick thin as being sexy and beautiful...
I first became aware that my face doesn't fit when I was writing a weekly column for a women's magazine that At first the editorial team tolerated the rather amateurish snap that I had provided for my picture byline. Then I got a phone call. 'We need you to come up for a shoot,' said the picture editor.
It may seem that I am stating the obvious here, but judging by things I've heard recently a reminder may be in order.
Whether it's Chris Evans saying that women are much better at making beds than men or a woman's voice suddenly rising above the murmur on the bus, saying "well duuuh, all women love shoes", everyone seems to have an opinion on what women are like.
Essentials first published a Real Women special issue in 2010, marking the first time it had not used models or celebrities on its cover. The positive feedback prompted editor Jules Barton-Breck to make the decision to continue to use real women on its covers throughout 2011 and into 2012, reinforcing its tagline of "No models, no celebs - just you!"