This collection of resources explores the use of digital image editing software in the mass media. We explore popular images of beauty and the use of digital imagery in news media. I developed this material for students learning digital image manipulation techniques in a computer science class but it could easily be adapted to a wide range of courses.


  • Arts > General
  • Arts > Film
  • Arts > Photography
  • Arts > Popular Culture
  • Arts > Technology
  • Arts > Visual Arts
  • Career & Technical Education > General
  • Career & Technical Education > Technology
  • Health > General
  • Social Studies > General
  • Social Studies > Anthropology
  • Social Studies > Civics
  • Social Studies > Current Events
  • Social Studies > Global Awareness
  • Social Studies > Psychology
  • Social Studies > Sociology
  • Social Studies > Technology

Education Levels:

  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12


computerscience compsci cs computer science photoshop design collage project digital imaging media literacy popular culture celebrity popculture news mass beauty advertising manipulation retouching photos



Access Privileges:

Public - Available to anyone

License Deed:

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
This resource has not yet been aligned.
Curriki Rating
On a scale of 0 to 3
On a scale of 0 to 3

This resource was reviewed using the Curriki Review rubric and received an overall Curriki Review System rating of 3, as of 2008-10-04.

Component Ratings:

Technical Completeness: 3
Content Accuracy: 3
Appropriate Pedagogy: 3

Reviewer Comments:

This resource contains some excellent links highlighting image manipulation and the distortion of beauty in the media. The first link, a video by Dove, shows the process by which a very plain looking woman is transformed into a billboard beauty. The second link highlights the retouching accomplishments of a studio (click "portfolio" from the main site). Another link from Dartmouth University gives a history of manipulated photographs. All of the above will foster important discussion among adolescents. A lesson structure is suggested and example student comments are included. It is important to note the contributor’s caution that many of these manipulated images come with “politically biased writing” and may require some preparation or debriefing. Teachers of many educational levels and subjects can find parts of this lesson to be adaptable and useful in their own classrooms, however it is especially well suited for a computer or advisory-type class.
Andie andie
April 12, 2010

Great lesson! I learned a couple small tricks even as a professional in the multimedia world! As soon as I get my own classroom, I hope to do lesson's like these! It's been an inspiration to find a lesson like this because I'd love to teach multimedia some day. I've also looked at other resources of by the author, Kevin Driscoll. He's an amazing educator, and I hope to see his name in the future!

Trent Jensen
July 31, 2009

This is an excellent lesson plan full of resources and topics of discussion. It begins with an excellent video by Dove that shows in graphic detail the amount of manipulation that goes into making a model “beautiful”. Dartmouth’s photo tampering website shows that this is not a new phenomenon. It is a fascinating look at the many different purposes of tampering, as well, from Stalin airbrushing out his political enemies to National Geographic adjusting a photo to match its vertical format.

Next, the students are asked to think critically about this process and blog about it. Is this doctoring journalistically responsible? What is the obligation of the student as someone with the skill of photo manipulation? High school students are constantly bombarded with images that have been manipulated, if not fabricated entirely. It is important for them to know that they cannot believe everything they see. This lesson will help them to view their media more critically.

I believe this lesson would be most effective if coupled with a digital manipulation unit with Photoshop or Gimp. As the students create their own projects, they should be familiar with any possible ethical problems that may arise due to this ability. I have uploaded a lesson plan I created that asks similar questions about ethics as an advertiser or graphic designer. I believe it would be an excellent companion piece to this lesson. It can be found at: http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_dtjensen/CreatingaGraphicArtistCodeofEthics

Christine Mytko
July 30, 2009

My middle school students were very impressed by this activity. They still bring it up months later.

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467