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.
Self-publishing is about staying in control of your destiny as a writer and having a say in how your book is packaged, produced, distributed and promoted. It is about making your own decisions, in collaboration with the experts (and in some cases, fans) to ensure that your work reaches readers in the way that is right for you.
We sat in the kitchen for our writerly discussion. He held a sheaf of A4 paper, covered in typescript while I was armed with my favourite pen and my kitchen reading glasses. I slid them onto my nose, squinting around the scratches and food smudges. Two mugs of tea and a plate of just baked flapjacks sat on the table between us.
I never expected to rely on my Jobcentre, but their conditions for my independent efforts penalised my attempts to help myself. So, tough luck if you believe in making your own opportunities. Local jobs in Ipswich were non-existent or beyond my skill set: boiler repair and work with vulnerable people.
Writers are needy, insecure and desperate for approval. Just like everyone else, in other words, but because writers don't get out much they believe these challenges are unique to them, and tend to over-dramatize them. There's nothing new in all this; what's changed is that online reviews are reminding writers of something that, in the end, is probably good for us: everyone is different.