The Best (and Worst) Photoshop Fails in the Media to Date

best worst photoshop fails media

Many people can master the art of Photoshop, and this kind of skill is relied on heavily for photos, posters, movies and more. As technology gets smarter, this kind of photo-editing tool only gets easier to use and even more capable of completely altering what a camera has captured.

And we’re not just talking about adding some extra lighting or tossing on a filter—oh no, the tools have become much more advanced. Although these tools are helping us to create exactly what we envision in our photos, they’re also raising the stakes for mistakes.

Some of the best and worst Photoshop fails in the media to date expose some of the most obvious errors that were clearly overlooked prior to printing. While some of the changes are more funny than offensive, the media has been under fire hundreds of times for creating fake images and altering people’s bodies.

Those with the most to say about these fails are usually celebrities, who are actively aware of the way the media alters their bodies to portray a more “acceptable” figure.

From using the wrong colors to removing limbs, these are the best and worst Photoshop fails in the media to date:

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Maxim, Avril’s Missing Arm

In 2010, Photoshop was already getting a little bit out of hand. Or should we say…arm? Maxim’s cover displayed one of the standout musicians of the time, Avril Lavigne, in a punk-inspired outfit and an attitude-filled stance.

maxim featuring avril lavigne quoteThe cover looks fine for the most part, until you look at her arms. Avril has both hands on her hips, but her right arm simply disappears after the elbow. In an attempt to edit the photo to enhance Lavigne’s curves, the photo editor seemed to forget to work the rest of her arm back in.

Somehow this got all the way to print and distribution, where readers were quick to notice the Photoshop fail. As a well-known magazine name with a mistake on their cover, this news had Maxim triple-checking their future edits.

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Vogue, Gigi’s Mole Reduction

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Gigi Hadid is a world-renowned supermodel, so it comes as no surprise that she sports a lot of fans who know a whole lot of information about her. Amongst that information is the fact that Gigi sports a cluster of moles across her stomach, which often peek out in the ad campaigns and photos she posts to her social media.

In 2016, Vogue China made the mistake of thinking that Gigi’s moles required a minor touch-up, and that they wouldn’t be missed by fans. Unfortunately, people immediately began to comment on some serious touch-ups done in the magazine, which completely removed Gigi’s moles and left behind an impossibly smooth stomach.

Perhaps not something you’d notice for a lesser-known model, but in the case of Gigi, Vogue China definitely took a hit.

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Political Flyer, Jeb Bush’s Hand

Not all Photoshop fails are noticeable, especially if readers aren’t familiar with the natural state of a person, place or thing. However, in some cases, an editing fail is just way too obvious for anyone not to notice.

In the case of Jeb Bush, a flyer released for his presidential campaign in 2015 had everyone’s eyebrows raised. Instead of gaining attention towards his political run, instead people were questioning why one of Jeb’s hands was black instead of white.

The flyer has Jeb set in front of a scenic river, and the caption asks, “Why Jeb?” While it might have been an attractive ad otherwise, it’s hard not to focus on Jeb’s left hand which is a totally different color than his own skin tone.

People also criticized that the body used wasn’t even Jeb’s; it was a political flop more than anything. Some Photoshop fails can be fixed, but we can only imagine the bulk printing job that was needed for this disastrous mistake.

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Promo Poster, Pretty Little Liars

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The ability to Photoshop has raised concern for many, who feel that editing people’s bodies and faces to create a look of “perfection” puts a lot of pressure on society to look the same way. Nowadays, photo editing apps are plenty, giving people the option to edit their own figures and faces to a look that they find more acceptable.

The Photoshop trend has put a lot of pressure specifically on young women, who are exposed early on to what the media deems an attractive face and body shape on a woman. While many companies are embracing more natural looks, the media is still guilty of widespread Photoshop fails like the one in a promo poster for a sitcom called Pretty Little Liars.

The poster shows the four main characters, all women, with seemingly perfect skin and absolutely zero flaws to be had. Not one pimple, blemish or hair out of place, and aggressively edited makeup.

Fortunately, two of the show’s stars brought attention to the poster for all of the right reasons, commenting that the photo looked nothing like them. Those who followed the girls on social media could see them agreeing that the editing had gone too far and asking what was wrong with their natural beauty.

Celebrities who have come forward about false editing have helped to soften the expectations, but Photoshop fails like this still continue.

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Vogue, Gigi’s Extended Arm

Vogue was at it again, and with the same model nonetheless! It’s true, Gigi Hadid was victim again to the Photoshop fails of Vogue magazine, only this time people were doing more laughing than criticizing.

vogue featuring gigi hadid quoteIn what was meant to be a very monumental cover photo of some very powerful women, Gigi stands in a line of women embracing one another in matching black shirts and patterned shorts. What was mostly regarded as a great representation of the uniqueness of every woman was also poked fun at because of Gigi’s extra-long arm.

In the photo, viewers can see Gigi’s left arm stretching a little further than physically possible. The length from Gigi’s elbow to her fingertips somehow reaches the span of two women, making it look a little bit alien and certainly edited.

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Grazia U.K., Lupita Nyong’o

Grazia U.K. was under fire for one of the worst Photoshop fails in November of 2017. Their cover issue embraced a beautiful Lupita Nyong’o, who happily accepted their invitation to grace their cover.

However, once the magazine hit stands, Lupita was quick to post the stark differences between her true look and the one that was edited for printing. In the original photo, Lupita has longer hair that is pulled back in a ponytail.

Her hair can be seen from the side, but in the magazine issue, Grazia U.K. decided to remove her hair and instead use a shaved look. In response, Lupita shamed the magazine for not taking the opportunity to celebrate “kinky-haired people” and shared her disappointment in the magazine for inviting her to pose only to change what she represented.

Thousands commented on the post, supporting Lupita’s message and helping to spread the word about beauty having more than just one look.

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KKW Beauty Ad, Kim Kardashian

As one of the most well-known celebrities in the world, Kim Kardashian-West has almost 110 million followers on her Instagram account. With a successful family show still airing on television, a makeup line and a marriage to Kanye West that people can’t stop talking about, it’s safe to say that Kim has a lot of eyes on her.

While that’s great for Kim business-wise, it also means a lot more people will notice an epic Photoshop fail when it happens (which it has).

ad campaign featuring kim kardashian quoteIn a more recent ad campaign, Kardashian-West was promoting her new makeup line called KKW. The photo displays what is an obviously-edited Kim on a simple background, but that wasn’t the prime focus of the epic Photoshop.

What had viewers really upset was the fact that it seemed Kim’s skin had been edited with a tactic called “blackface,” or to make someone’s skin look much darker than it actually is.

Kim responded to the backlash, explaining that she had been very tanned at the time and that no one who had seen the photo had brought this to her attention. Unfortunately, fans certainly had something to say about the Photoshop and changes were quickly made.

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The Year in Sports, Shawn Johnson

In 2007, Shawn Johnson was one of the most talked-about athletes in America. As a very talented gymnast, she began to intrigue people with her potential for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

At those Olympics, she would claim gold on the balance beam, silver on the floor and silver in the all-round women division. It was no surprise that people wanted to know more about Shawn, and that meant taking some photos.

A year earlier, one photographer set out to Iowa to capture some shots of Shawn in her home state, standing up on a balance beam in a field of corn. The idea was to represent both Shawn’s sports as well as her home roots.

Unfortunately, the end result shows a stoic Shawn on top of the beam …and a freaky hand grabbing at the bottom of it. Photographer Joe McNally wrote a full explanation of how the photo came to be, and why the rushed process of getting “the shot” may have been to blame for one of the worst Photoshop fails.

The hand belonged to an assistant, who was there to ensure that the propped-up beam didn’t take a tumble with Shawn on top. The hand was overlooked in editing, but fans took notice of the creepy details and dubbed the photo a remake of the movie Children of the Corn.

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Kylie Jenner

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None of the Kardashians are safe from the criticism of Photoshop and when the edits are a little too obvious, it’s hard not to displease the millions of followers you have. Kylie Jenner is one member of the clan who seems to be criticized the most for her photo editing, and Jenner rarely denies the allegations.

In one very popular photo of Kylie, she can be seen at home in a long-sleeved shirt and what appears to be a pair of Puma shorts or a pair of Puma underwear. Her curvy figure seems much more obvious than normal, exposing a wide set of hips and a very tiny waist.

Onlookers have been quick to point out that the wall to the left of Kylie is aggressively warped, which suggests that Kylie did some after-photo editing to give herself some extra-luscious curves. It is one of the most popular photos to suggest Kylie’s editing habits, and those who have followed her as she’s grown up are quick to note that her body has changed dramatically over a short span of time.

For photo-takers, it’s important to note that if you’re going to Photoshop, you will want to be wary of the effects it has on the rest of the photo. Bending and warping the image to shape a certain object can make the background and other objects look awkward and it is a sure sign of heavy editing.

Many celebrities have been caught because of these small mistakes, which make the main object look great but the background look warped.


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To master Photoshop can be easy, and in the same breath it’s also very difficult. It is common that photo editors will take something way too far, like altering the shape of a person’s body or forgetting about extra hands, floating objects and bad color changes.

In a world where it’s easy to share images with millions of people, the best and worst Photoshop fails in the media to date don’t go very long without someone pointing out mistakes, which is both a curse and a blessing. With such quick criticism, editors can quickly fix their mistakes but not before hundreds, if not thousands, of people have already witnessed the blunder.

While some Photoshop edits are perfect for a good laugh, others get a lot of attention for all of the wrong reasons. If you’re going to be printing bulk images for flyers, posters or advertisements, it’s a good idea to double- and triple-check your editing before you press  “print.”