Francis found this one a while back. A digital artist named Greg Apodaca is not only a talented photo manipulation artist, he also happens to be great at putting together a site that effectively gives away his magic tricks. Like any good magician, however, he can confidently show you what he does, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it yourself. Look at his Digital Portfolio page. They’re all fascinating little studies, but the ones with people in them are the most remarkable. Look at the pictures of the women at the far right and far left of the second row. For a really disturbing treat, move the mouse back and forth quickly over the image so you get a grotesque little animation.
People like Greg are manufacturing what your notion of beauty is. The women in glamor magazines don’t exist; they are built in tiny digital factories by a variety of skilled artificers. The raw materials for this process may be real women, but the desire-inducing finished product can only exist in the ether. Does that make us happier or more miserable?