These days, it’s almost unheard of to see a celebrity photo that hasn’t been airbrushed or otherwise digitally manipulated to make the person in the picture look nearly flawless. While they may make pretty magazine covers, two researchers are proposing a ratings system to let people know exactly how much a photo has been manipulated.

The rating would take into account two types of adjustments: geometric, which includes making legs, hips or arms smaller, adjusting facial symmetry or enlarging the eyes, and photometric, which affects skin tone and texture and encompasses changes that remove wrinkles, cellulite, dark circles under the eyes, and facial blemishes.

“We start with the before-and-after digital images, from which we automatically estimate the geometric and photometric changes, effectively reverse-engineering the manipulations that a photo retoucher has made,” said Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College.

“Such a rating may provide incentive for publishers and models to reduce some of the more extreme forms of digital retouching that are common today,” Farid and his research partner, Eric Kee, a doctoral student, wrote in an article published November 28 in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.’ “It remains to be seen if this rating can mediate the adverse effects of being inundated with unrealistic body images.”

[LiveScience]