my boss excessively Photoshops herself on our company’s social media

A reader writes:

I work at a respected firm in a niche industry. I graduated college this year so I’m the newest person here. Besides my manager (I’ll call her Elizabeth), everyone else has worked here for 15 years or more and has decades of experience in the industry.

When Elizabeth was hired as a manager last year, the firm didn’t have any kind of social media presence. She changed that and she set up social media accounts for the firm. The industry is changing and other firms as well as our clients all use it now. Since she was the only person at the firm who knew how to use and run social media, she was put in charge of the accounts.

There is something Elizabeth is doing which makes her and the firm looks bad and is causing problems, with our clients and in general. When she is in a photo she posts to our social media, she Photoshops herself. I don’t mean she removes one blemish; she makes herself taller, thinner, lengthens her hair and her legs, makes her teeth whiter, etc. The Photoshopping is not great and anyone can tell she has altered the photo. She has accidentally given herself an extra arm or hand, removed a leg, or posted with a distorted or bent background. Sometimes the changes to her nose, eye color, or chest size make her look like a different person.

When the photo is taken at a conference or client event, Elizabeth will look completely different in photos taken and posted by others at the event vs. the ones she posts herself. If she is posing with a group and several people take photos of them, in the one Elizabeth posts she will be the tallest instead of the shortest, 50-75 pounds lighter, and her face will be filtered. The differences between the photos will be staggering and not subtle. Tables and door frames in the background will be bent and other people in the photo around her will look distorted. She never Photoshops anyone else, but sometimes they look distorted or cut off because of the changes to her.

Clients and people from other firms have called us out online and privately. I think it makes our credibility look bad, but when I asked Elizabeth about the policy on photoshopping photos, she said I should understand how hard it is for women who have body issues when the standards of beauty are impossible.

The firm’s owner and others at the firm don’t have a clue about social media and don’t know what she is doing. I am half a foot taller than Elizabeth, but in a photo she made herself taller than me. Her hips were at my chest and it looked bizarre. My torso was partially missing where she slimmed hers. Clients have accused her and the firm of deception and I know of two who have taken their business elsewhere because she photoshopped photos of herself at their events or lied about doing it when they asked her about our social media.

This looks bad to our clients and others in the industry. How do I make the firm’s owner and higher-ups aware of this? Elizabeth is my manager and got angry when I asked her about it. She has been here longer and knows them better. This firm is well-known and respected and we are losing credibility and business because of her.

I … would think it was kind of amazing if a company I followed on social media had someone who kept doing this. Photos of corporate events are usually so boring, but this would make me eager to look at them.

Obviously it sucks for Elizabeth that she feels compelled to make such extreme alterations to her photos, and I don’t mean to make light of that. The beauty standard for women is oppressive. But really — she’s removing her hands and legs and obliterating your torso in her quest for Instagram appeal. On work photos! That she’s posting on your firm’s social media!

Anyway … while on one hand I could see people writing this off as a bizarre and embarrassing quirk of Elizabeth’s, you’re right that it makes your firm look strange and unprofessional. And the lying is the worst of it; if she’s obviously lying when asked about it, that’s especially going to harm her credibility and trustworthiness (even more than these weird photos edits already do).

That said, I don’t think you have to alert higher-ups at your firm to this. As a junior person there who has already tried to raise it, it doesn’t rise to the “absolutely must escalate this further” level. The exception to that would be if this directly intersects with your job — like if you’re in a marketing or client services role, where you’d have more of an obligation to flag this.

But just because you don’t have to doesn’t mean you can’t. If you decide you want to take it on, I’d pick the person you have the best rapport with (or the person with the best understanding of social media and/or stuff like Photoshop) and say something like, “Can you give me your advice on something? I’m concerned about the extreme Photoshop work Elizabeth does on the photos of herself she posts on our social media — she regularly makes herself significantly taller, lengthens her hair, changes her eye color, and filters her face, to the point that it looks nothing like her. The changes are often really obvious — the photos are distorted and sometimes she’s accidentally given herself an extra hand or removed a leg. I’ve been worried it’s making us look unprofessional, and I’ve learned at least two clients have stopped working with us over it, while others have accused the firm of being deceptive in our photos. Should I flag this for someone?”

You actually are flagging it for someone just by saying this, of course. But framing it as “can I get your advice on this?” and “is this something we should be worried about?” lets you bring it up without as much of an awkward/tricky “I need to report incredibly bizarre behavior from my manager” framework. (In fact, “can I get your advice on this?” is a useful trick in general to use when you want to bring something to someone’s attention without just dumping the problem on them.)

From there, it’s up to your firm to decide how/whether to handle this, but you’ll have done your part in making them aware of it.

{ 401 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    The fact that it is causing actual harm to your company’s reputation makes me feel like you should at least make an effort to address it. Can you present copies of the correspondences from the clients who have mentioned it either privately or publicly?

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      This is what I was thinking. Tangible evidence that her actions are having direct impact on the business, with printed examples of the photos. If one of the clients that was lost is distorted in a photo because of her photoshopping, I would bring that as well. If not, just the most egregious examples of what she is doing. I’d also bring some marketing research on how this negatively impacts businesses.

      Good luck OP!

    2. Future Homesteader*

      When I was reading this, all I could think was that if I didn’t know it was Elizabeth herself photoshopping it, I might wonder who at your company thinks it’s okay to mess with a woman’s image like that. That said, if I noticed the bad photoshopping (which I may or may not, I’m not particularly visually attuned), I would just think your company needs to hire better graphic designers…

      1. Annette*

        The last part is key. People are not going to think about oppressive beauty standards when they see this. They’re going to think this company is too cheap to hire a real designer. And they’ll look like clownish amateurs. No thanks.

        1. FormerFirstTimer*

          I think you make a good point, but I would also like to know how often she posts photos with her in them and how often she posts in general. If she’s only posting things that feature her, she definitely needs to have the social media accounts removed from her responsibility.

    3. Mama Bear*

      I used to work for a company that thought it was funny to use a photo of one of their managers where the manager looked drunk. I found out later that the photo lost the company business (unprofessional appearance). When that information was relayed to a business development manager, the photo was quickly replaced. Upper management didn’t care either way but BD was horrified. Maybe the person OP needs to talk to is the person who interfaces with the clients. If Elizabeth is tarnishing the company’s reputation and losing business, this isn’t just “I wanted to make myself look pretty”. This has serious implications to the business and I’d state it as such. Body Image issues or not, Elizabeth’s behavior is detrimental to the company’s reputation and bottom line.

      1. Auntie Social*

        There are joke sites online of “photoshopping gone wrong” where you see precisely this kind of thing. Show the bosses the most outrageous examples of the distortions and then show a similar one you found online to show that this is what people laugh at! And why does she appear in so many photos—why doesn’t she let some of the wonderful hardworking staff get some credit? This isn’t “The Elizabeth Show”.

          1. Lora*

            I am a terrible person and would be highly tempted to send a photo to James Fridman for “help”.

            I’m definitely going to hell.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The next time a client complains consider this script: “I’m not at a level to set company guidelines. If you want to take the issue to someone who is, you could contact $manager and through her to $grandboss.”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        If it’s a customer-service position, though, that’s not going to reflect well either because it puts the onus of raising the issue (which is OP’s company’s issue and not the client’s, really) back on the client. All OP has to say to the client is, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ll be sure it’s escalated to [person who could actually do something about it].” and then escalate that feedback as promised. If the higher-ups don’t want to do anything about and don’t care that it’s losing them business, there is not a lot OP can do about that.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          This is my thinking as well. Ideally, if you can forward an email with a client complaining about how bizarre and unprofessional it is that is best, since documentation is always good in these situations. If it is verbal, go ahead and pass it along to the account manager or whoever else would be the relevant person to pass a client complaint on to. If you don’t have client specific examples to fall back on, but you can put together a good collection of these call outs on the site you could use that too, though be sure to frame it as ‘this kind of thing is making us all look rather unprofessional. I don’t think this is the overall brand we want to present.’ not ‘Elizabeth needs to stop trying to fix herself.”

          If this is just in passing gossip or hearsay, though, I would keep it to yourself. Sharing gossip or ‘what ifs’ isn’t going to make you look good, if anything it’s going to seem a little weird and petty, especially to people who don’t really “get” social media. Also be ready to answer the “why didn’t you just go talk to your manager and tell her you’re seeing this yourself?” question

    5. Important Moi*

      Why not direct the clients to contact management directly? Hey I noticed in your in some of your social media postings employees have extra limbs … would that be viewed as too aggressive?

      1. SunshineOH*

        Depends on OPs role. You can’t really make it the client’s problem to fix. I’d certainly encourage her to share any customer correspondence with the the client-facing folks and let them chase it.

    6. TootsNYC*

      who is getting those correspondences?

      Any criticism from a client or industry peer should not sit at the desk of whomever received it. It should be moved upstream to vice presidents and the like.

      if the person who gets these alerts is Elizabeth, then I think the OP owes it to the company to mention this to more people than her.

      1. Marmaduke*

        Maybe it DOES get passed on. I wonder if the people it’s escalated to are technophobe types who see “digital altered” and “social media” and insist that they can’t be expected to understand all that internet gibberish.

          1. Marmaduke*

            I’ve had bosses and execs that would rather see the whole company go under than listen to an explanation of the phrase “the Tweet went viral.”

  2. I'm A Little Teapot*

    If the industry is changing to such an extent, then getting someone who’s actual job it is to run the social media may be a good idea (I’m assuming that this is in addition to Elizabeth’s full time job).

    I would vote to bring it to the attention of someone higher up. You’re losing clients, and over something that is 100% preventable.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I was just thinking this. If she’s otherwise doing a good job, take social media away from her and give it to someone else. They can frame it as freeing her up to concentrate on her primary responsibilities.

      1. Observer*

        Well, yes, but someone needs to know that this is happening.

        But, also, I have to question the judgement of someone who is dong this. It’s very possible that they is really suffering from body image issues. But she’s still doing something that’s really, really problematic and I’d have to wonder how else this could play out.

      2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

        Frankly, I would be surprised if Elizabeth were otherwise good at her job. Her bizarre and inept Photoshopping, the way she (intentionally or unintentionally) tears down others in the Photoshopped picture and harms the company (and thinking that no one would notice?!) and her behavior when confronted about it: all this points to a person with serious common sense and judgment issues.

        This is one of those WOCKOSIYBD (What Other Kinds Of Crazy S*** Is Your Boss Doing) posts.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          “This is one of those WOCKOSIYBD (What Other Kinds Of Crazy S*** Is Your Boss Doing) posts.”

          My thoughts exactly. And that is a point OP can bring up to the higher-ups. And not just that OP is concerned that customers and the public are concerned that Elizabeth is badly photoshopping photos but that the customers also think that the photoshopping is just the tip of the iceberg. If Elizabeth can obviously doctor photos and post them on social media, what else is she being dishonest about that may not be so obvious?

    2. EddieSherbert*

      At the *very* least, I’d say they need a meeting or consultation with a communication company to set some basic standards/guidelines.

      Heck, even an unpaid college intern in a communication field would know better!

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’m always amazed at the things I see people in my field doing, and I think, “as a kid right out of college, I would know that I needed to have skin tones other than peach in that photo of high heels!” or “I would have not needed to be told that the letters column should have people from outside the NYC area!”

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes your company could easily go viral over this too, if someone notices and finds it hilarious. Not how you want to be remembered!

      1. Linzava*

        This! There’s an entire sub reddit dedicated to people who post badly photoshopped images of themselves.

    4. CM*

      This is a good idea. I was also going to suggest that, if you have a designer or photographer on staff, this is a good opportunity to maybe have those people work on ways of taking the photos or more subtly editing the photos so that the manger feels more comfortable but it doesn’t look crazy.

      If you’re trying to convince the manager herself that this is a problem, the angle I would take is actually that she’s bad at photoshop and there are obvious artifacts like the warped door frames and even Kim Kardashian gets roasted when stuff like that happens. So, not “Be less vain” but “be less obvious” and the path to being less obvious is to have professionals take and edit the photos instead.

  3. Artemesia*

    I don’t see how you can do anything without endangering your own job having already raised this to her and getting an angry response. If you can’t do this in some stealth manner then I’d let it go. Ideally the departing clients would have sent something to the CEO about why they were departing — but I see no upside for you.

    1. Not Ansel Adams*

      Exactly. OP needs to stay out of this. She’s not responsible for social media, and it’s none of her business.

      And photoshopping online publicity pictures is incredibly common. Maybe Elizabeth is doing an amateurish job of the photoshopping, which is not ideal. But I’m detecting a whiff of “I’m angry that Elizabeth is doing this *at all*” from OP’s letter, especially where she complains about her own likeness being photoshopped out of a background picture.

      This is “not my circus, not my monkeys” territory.

      1. Huh*

        but in a photo she made herself taller than me. Her hips were at my chest and it looked bizarre. My torso was partially missing where she slimmed hers.

        The OP never said anything about being shopped out of a photo or the background of one. They said their image was distorted because of Elizabeth

        1. Vemasi*

          Also, even though I don’t detect this in the letter, if OP is distorted in networking photos, I think OP has the right to be concerned. Even if the social media is “none of her business,” photos of OP are her business, especially ones resulting from an event she attended to network. And if clients are speaking to OP about it, it is quite literally her business!

      2. Ra94*

        But this is an incredibly weird thing for Elizabeth to be doing at all. Photoshopping online publicity is normal when a professional designer fixes lighting or removes a messy background from an advertisement or headshot- it’s not normal to photoshop photos of event attendees to make them look hotter, and it’s certainly not normal for a social media manager to exclusively photoshop herself.

        Honestly, even if she were doing it well and you couldn’t tell the image was doctored, it would still be really strange- I’m imagining meeting her at a conference, and then seeing a photo of us together on the company twitter in which she’s suddenly 3 feet taller and 70 pounds lighter. It would be absolutely surreal!

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The kind of photoshopping OP is referring to here, with radical changes to a person’s physical appearance, may be commonplace in beauty/fashion/modeling related industries. But if this is, like, an architecture firm or a business consulting company, what Elizabeth is doing is not incredibly common. It’s odd enough that other professionals in their industry are put off by it, and that’s a flashing red neon sign.

        I think whether or not OP should say anything to her higher-ups really depends on what kind of relationship she’s got with them, and whether she feels likely to be taken seriously.

      4. Sarah N.*

        I disagree that this type of Photoshopping is incredibly common — cleaning up a stain on someone’s shirt or glare on their glasses is normal; radically altering a woman’s appearance to make her thinner or changing her breast size is NOT. If I were a client, my first assumption would NOT be that Elizabeth was sloppily Photoshopping herself, but rather than some asshole in the graphic design department had decided she wasn’t hot enough and had taken it upon himself to make her “prettier” in publicity materials. If you’re actually losing business over this and not just getting the occasional laugh, my guess is that this is what clients are assuming — that a company allowing someone to Photoshop an employee’s breasts is a hotbed of sexual harassment and other serious problems. In this case, that’s not actually what happened, but I think that’s the public image that is getting put out there.

        1. Vemasi*

          Body editing like this can be a result of extremely distorted perception from immersing oneself in the “influencer” community. There is a subreddit about it called InstagramReality. Often the editing is done on a phone app, which is one reason that it is so hamhandedly (word?) done. Elizabeth has normalized this kind of extreme editing and is letting it intrude on her professional life, even though it is extremely unprofessional.

          I would equate this to other examples of people letting their “hobbies” intrude way too much on work, like people who insist on fetish terms for their significant other, wear cat ears to an office, or use niche internet slang when it is not appropriate. And I would be very offended if I were distorted in a photo taken for the purpose of networking.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      If there was a way to prove they lost clients specifically because of the photoshopping, I’d bring it to someone’s attention. If not, I’d stay out of it.

  4. Ginger Baker*

    I would definitely recommend bringing some printed examples with you – when I hear “she photoshopped herself in this photo” I definitely think “she brightened her teeth” not “she added 6 inches to her height, changed her chest size and added in other people’s arms to replace her own/left an extra third arm in the photo”….seeing that will have a much bigger impact I think that just saying “excessive photoshop”.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yes.

      If it were me, I’d bring examples of both her bad photoshop skills and of the feedback you’ve seen from people calling them out.

      1. Kiki*

        It might also be a good idea to bring the photos posted by other people at the event to show how out of the norm these photos are. Hopefully seeing the absolutely wild photoshop will speak for itself, but if the higher ups never use social media, they may think “oh, well everyone photoshops”

        1. EddieSherbert*

          +1 to both of those. Showing how drastically different the photos that other companies post will demonstrate how abnormal her actions are. And seeing how people (potential clients?) react negatively to the photos should really impress that it’s not okay.

      1. Not Ansel Adams*

        This is a lovely suggestion if OP were senior or even mid-level at her company. She’s not, and escalating it is just going to piss off her (possibly vain) boss.

        In the BEST scenario, OP ends up with extra duties as photoshopper-in-chief.

    2. blackcat*

      Yes, I’d raise it once, in email, with examples, and with comments from clients to make the impact clear. And then I’d let it go.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Yes this. Raising it once (documented), but after that, you should let it go. This isn’t critical enough to be a hill to die on.

        1. FormerFirstTimer*

          You are more than likely right, however, my inner doom and gloom would like to point out that if the bizarre behavior continues and clients keep leaving because of it (or even declining to become clients), the OP’s job could be in danger.

          1. Not Ansel Adams*

            Clients are not going to abandon a smaller company over poor photoshopping absent bigger problems. This is not VOGUE.

            1. WellRed*

              Yes, I’m surprised by how many clients are following their social media so closely that they are commenting on it and taking biz elsewhere. Elizabeth’s behavior is bizarre, but so is the reaction of clients.

              1. Huh*

                She’s altering pictures of herself on public/promotional photos from their events, and causing other attendees to look distorted. Then she is lying to them when they ask about it. It’s egregious.

              2. Dahlia*

                How many pictures of someone photoshopped to be 7 feet tall and bizarrely stretched would you need to see to be curious enough to check in now and then? (It’s Facebook. It’s not like they’re going on a deep dive into the bowels of the internet to find the pictures.)

                1. WellRed*

                  I guess I am just thinking of the fleeting nature of most social media. Someone tweets a photo, I’m more likely to not even see it than I am to see it. I do agree that there’s a problem here with what Elizabeth is doing, but I can see being more “what the heck is she going to post next?” for the pure entertainment value. Again, I get that’s not the look a company wants to project.

                2. Yorick*

                  But here, it’s a photo of your company’s event or an event that your company attended. I get the impression it may actually be the complainer’s photo that she Photoshops before retweeting (OP says you can compare the original posted by someone else to the Photoshopped one posted by Elizabeth. People are very likely to see the photos and may even be purposefully looking for them.

              3. MOAS*

                I don’t think it’s that out of left field. I can easily see this happening where I’m scrolling through facebook or instagram and I see a badly photoshopped image, and the comments calling out how weird it looks. If I was a potential client and I saw an ad or image where someone did such bad photoshopping and got a weird response like Elizabeth is pushing, I would not be their customer.

              4. Librarian of SHIELD*

                If a client was in a photo that Elizabeth photoshopped, and her shoddy job caused the client to look distorted in the picture, I can see the client getting upset enough to pull their business over it. And when we’re talking about things like hashtags and tagging the people in the photograph and facebook groups that notify members every time something new is posted, I don’t think it’s surprising at all that clients and other agencies in the industry are noticing.

            2. Autumnheart*

              Maybe, but nothing makes you look more fly-by-night as a company than bad graphic design. Existing clients might not leave, but new clients are definitely going to hesitate at the lack of professionalism on display.

            3. FormerFirstTimer*

              I think it really depends on what industry the OP is in. If I was looking to host an event and was looking for vendors, I would definitely think twice about using, say, a marketing firm that couldn’t even edit its own photos on its instagram feed without ending up on a photoshop fail site.

            4. Sarah N.*

              My guess is they are leaving because they assume blatant sexual harassment is happening. This is what I would think if I saw a company photoshopping a female employee’s weight and BREAST SIZE. I would not assume the woman had done it to herself, I’d think there was a rogue male graphic designer who was harassing this woman for not being “hot” enough. Bad photoshop wouldn’t cause me to leave a company; un-checked sexual harassment of employees absolutely would.

      1. boo bot*

        Yeah, I’d mention the extra arm thing specifically, it’s the clearest example, and it’s also the easiest to bring up with the rogue photoshopper without dragging her body image into the discussion.

          1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

            Hey, I’d have sold my soul for a third arm back when my kid was small and I was toting around fifty tons of baby gear.

      2. MOAS*

        Oh I abhor those smooth skin posts so much–especially in makeup photos posted by “professional” makeup artists, when everyone knows for a fact that it’s so much facetune.
        It’s such an open secret and it make s me hate social media so much lol

    3. Joielle*

      Yeah, “excessive photoshop” and “really bad photoshop” are two different things, and although the former is not great, the latter is really noticeable and looks unprofessional.

    4. Quill*

      “I’d like your advice on something. My boss turned herself into an eldritch abombination – yes, one with extra arms – in our publicity photos. Do we need to take photo posting away from her or get her a photoshop class?”

      1. Brazilian Hobbit*

        Thanks for making me do the pterodactyl screech at work.

        But seriously, I would take the examples that are obviously egregious, like the extra limb one, along with complaints on the company’s social media, to make it clear how serious the situation is.

  5. Annette*

    Her response to LW makes no sense. Why would she not understand what it’s like for women with BI issues. Unless LW is not a woman. If so – I’d suggest escalating it to a woman. Not because a man could not handle this well. But because Elizabeth may never listen. But do something, yes.

    1. pentamom*

      I think she’s saying to LW, “As a woman, you should understand this issue. Why are you giving me grief about my way of dealing with it?”

      Which is, of course, a terrible response, but it makes sense as a response from a certain point of view.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        No, I disagree that it makes any sense. I regularly have issues with fellow blacks over the use of the n-word. I get told the equivalent “as a black man, you should understand when I want to ‘take back the power of the word’ Why are you giving me grief about it.’ It doesn’t make sense because that point of view starts from a false premise.

    2. Not Me*

      I read it as LW fits societies beauty standards more than Elizabeth does (or feels she does) so Elizabeth is suggesting LW doesn’t understand why Elizabeth feels the need to alter the pictures.

      1. Observer*

        I read it that way, too. But that is actually a reason why the OP should raise this with someone higher up.

        Elizabeth is being utterly irrational here. What are you willing to bet that her issues will never spill over into unfair treatment of the OP?

        For an extreme example, look for the letter from the person who was mistreating her employee because that employee was so much more attractive that her.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Even if Elizabeth doesn’t go as far as that person did or if she doesn’t (intentionally or knowingly) do things based on OP’s appearance, assuming that conventionally attractive people can’t have body issues is provably false and suggests that Elizabeth has decided that things work a certain way and isn’t interested in changing her mind on that. It makes me wonder if she’d take feedback from a peer, much less anything she thinks is critical from a subordinate.

          Of course, this entire scenario is bonkers fucking yonkers, which doesn’t bode well for OP in general.

      2. Galloping Gargoyles*

        I read it this way as well. The other thing that struck me though is that Elizabeth is not actually improving her looks it she’s adding limbs or distorting the picture so much. OP, I encourage you to bring it to the attention of upper level management and bring the pictures as others have suggested. A picture is worth a thousand words…

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I think anyone who doubts the wisdom of Elizabeth making herself seven feet tall with three arms ipso facto doesn’t understand the pressure of the beauty standards.

    3. Meredith*

      I wonder if she’s trying to lay ground work to justify it as body dysmorphia, and potentially even seek out a diagnosis in case the higher-ups call her out on it.

      1. Observer*

        That seems very calculated. But still not useful. Because doing stuff that causes the company to lose clients is NOT going to be considered a “reasonable accommodation”. Taking away the social media responsibilities would probably qualify, though.

      2. Felix*

        I wouldn’t say she is laying the ground work for body dysmorphia – it sounds like she actually has body dysmorphia. Obviously some kind of therapy is in order for her, but as far as the company is concerned they should (a) find someone else to do social media and (b) find a way to keep her out of the photos if possible, so she doesn’t have the anxiety about (what she perceives as) bad photos of her out there.

      3. Cranky Neighbot*

        It’s not a nice thing for me to say, but if she can’t figure out that warping doors and giving herself extra limbs makes looks silly, this kind of plot is probably out of her grasp.

        1. Zap R.*

          Yeah, I honestly feel like this is more a case of somebody being a little loopy than being mentally ill and scheming.

    4. Ginger*

      I read her response as more of a “you’re young, you don’t understand” thing. LW is right out of college, Elizabeth is a bit older… that’s my read on the response.

    5. Decima Dewey*

      So Elizabeth’s response to oppressive and impossible beauty standards is — to give in them and double down?

      1. TootsNYC*

        well, if you don’t believe you’re ever going to change those unfair standards, it’s not that illogical to decide that your own best course is to go along with them using whatever means you can.

        I want my public schools to be better–but people’s kids are in first grade in one specific year. So I don’t hold it against them that they chose a private school.

      2. Holly*

        I think it’s a given that Elizabeth is not behaving rationally – that’s not for us to comment on except for how it is impacting LW’s job.

    6. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Her concern about women and body issues will ring hollow if there are other women in the photos, but Elizabeth is the only one getting the “enhanced “ treatment. Looks really insecure.
      She should not be Photoshopping hers or anybody else’s photos, I hasten to add. Especially if she’s doing it wrong. (!!!)

      1. Not Me*

        I don’t think it rings hollow at all. It’s perfectly normal for people to apply much higher standards to themselves than to others. Of course it looks insecure, because she is insecure.

  6. Barbara in Swampeast*

    If the OP knows absolutely that they have lost clients because of this, I think the upper management does need to know about it. Start by using Alison’s script and tell them about losing clients.

    1. QCI*

      Exactly this. Point out the lose of business and negative feedback from everyone else and if they still can’t understand why this is a problem then you may as well start job searching.

      1. Meredith*

        And the OP’s torso was distorted because of her editing. I’m picturing, like, a chunk was taken out of OP’s stomach where Elizabeth’s elbow should have been.

        1. Dorcas*

          Lol, that was my exact mental picture too. I just can’t imagine being so unaware like Elizabeth is of how bad the photo-shopping job appears.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Right?! The whole thing sounds so absurd that I laughed all the way through. But yes, I could see how OP (and possibly the company) wouldn’t want clients to have that same reaction.

    2. Autumnheart*

      As someone who uses Photoshop for a living (granted, I’m not massively editing images of people), I’m both rolling with laughter at the mental image of someone Microsoft Painting their photo to add a third arm, and cringing at what this must be doing to the company’s reputation.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I don’t have much to add except….

    1) does your manager really think she looks good after these revisions? The way you describe it, I don’t think so.

    2) When I worked on Capitol Hill, many Members had been in office for a few decades. Every session, Members have the opportunity to get a new headshot. Great, right?

    There are a handful of Members who have kept the same photos since the 1970s and 1980s when they had more hair and were thinner. Oh it’s most definitely done on purpose.

    While this might seem relatively minor, all of this goes to credibility. What will happen is someone who is looking for them will say, “Wow I almost didn’t recognize you!” There will be eyerolls and private jokes. It’s awkward and embarrassing for the Member.

    Whatever she’s trying to accomplish, your boss is failing. I can guarantee it.

    1. Annette*

      Don’t understand your first point. Why else would she do this other than believing she looks good. Or at least – better.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I phrased this poorly. What I meant to say was…

        Does she think other people think this looks good? Because it sounds like a horrible Photoshop job such that she has to be the only one who thinks it looks good.

        1. valentine*

          I think she can’t stand to leave her pictures be (or to avoid posting herself or being photographed, apparently), so she’s content with making changes, regardless of the impact.

        2. Kiki*

          I have definitely observed many other cases of extreme insecurity leading people to make choices that actually make them look worse. On the more minor side, think of men who wear very obvious, ugly toupees. On the more extreme, think about people who get tons of plastic surgery and end up looking like caricatures of their former selves (or like a bad imitation of a beautiful celebrity). It’s easy to laugh and think “why would they do that???” but usually there’s some deep insecurity and body dysmorphia going on that’s pretty sad.

    2. Anonariffic*

      We do updates of employee photos every other year at my job, there are definitely people who have been dodging the photoshoots for years so that their official headshot looks a decade younger than they really are.

      1. 2 Cents*

        At my place, some headshots are so old that I’ve literally walked by the people they were supposed to be in the hallways and not known it. It was like they took their senior college photo and were like “this is the last photo I’m ever taking!”

      2. Accalia*

        o/ That’s me.

        Not because i want my headshot to look younger than I am. But because I *DON’T WANT* a headshot in the first place.

        Got a huge pink kink in my think about photographs of me to the point where all photos of me that exist between the ages of Five, when I learned how to express my explicit lack of consent to be involved in photos, and now were all taken either without my permission nor knowledge or taken when I was in a situation where I could not reasonably get out of getting the headshot taken.

        Not exactly the same thing, but to assume that photo dodging is vanity for all…. well that’s not true for all…

        1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          Same. I’m not ugly per se in real life, but I don’t photograph well and avoid the camera whenever possible. The number of pictures of myself that I’ve liked is in the low double digits. I sucked it up and had head shots done a few years back when I started self-publishing and freelancing, and you better believe I’m going to use those photos till the day I die.

          1. AKchic*

            I feel this. I was the oldest child and the 1st grandchild. So many photos of me. On top of that, I was treated like a posable doll for a long time. Pastels, dresses, white gloves, patent leather Mary Janes with frilly socks (and frilly underwear!) and had to sleep in curlers because I didn’t inherit my mother’s curls but I otherwise looked identical to my mother and she wanted us to dress like twins a lot. We had a lot of matching and complementary outfits. Then my little sister was born and the three of us had to be matchy / complementary.
            I do not photograph well. I hate photographs. I am so glad I have boys because if I’d had a girl I would have had to skip the country to keep my mom and grandma from doing the same thing to the next female generation (the annual “little suits for Easter” routine was bad enough – I don’t celebrate such “holidays”).
            Now photos of me are generally frowned upon by my mother because they aren’t to her taste. I’m in costumes or generally not in clothing she likes. My mom still has Opinions on what’s proper for her nearly 40 year old daughter, and I will never measure up to what she wants. Too bad I don’t give a flying rats tuchus and don’t hesitate in telling her I have a satchel of Richards she can choke on.

        2. WS*

          Yeah, part of my job involves taking license photos and there are people who are really distressed about having to have one taken. (Also some people who are just vain about it, but there’s a clear difference.)

      1. Yorick*

        But won’t it make ageism worse? Sure, at first people won’t because they think you’re 25, but after they see you the fact that you’re 55 is gonna be a way bigger deal.

    3. many bells down*

      I worked for a real estate agent 20ish years ago. He’s still using the same photo as when I was there, and it was 5 or 10 years old THEN. And he’s a good looking guy! He looks great still! It’s especially weird because he does online videos about the local market and he’s clearly decades older than the photo on his website.

    4. Not Ansel Adams*

      Which (I say this a former senior Hill staffer myself) is the member’s business, or maybe the chief of staff’s. Not the new staff assistant’s.

    5. NW Mossy*

      As someone whose work ID photo is still the same one taken when I was hired a decade ago, don’t discount “not a priority” as a factor in why it’s not updated. I’ve had a couple of chances at an update over the years, but invariably, some actual work thing takes priority and I miss the photo session. I’m not trying to deceive anyone that I’m still 29, I swear!

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        That reminds me I should really update my 10-years-and 50-lbs-old LinkedIn photo. Some time when something more important (like reading comments at AAM ;-) ) isn’t at hand.

    6. Pony tailed wonder*

      I used to have a job where I had to accept personal checks. I am 5’8. You would not believe how many men I would be as tall as or taller than who had 6′ on their driver’s licenses. People convince themselves on many kinds of lies that are easily visible to sane people. Elizabeth is not an outlier here, she’s just flagrant about it.

    7. Ra94*

      Some people- often they’re not especially tech literate themselves- think they’re the only people who have ~ever~ heard of Photoshop or Facetune, and that no one will ever guess their photos were edited. I have a friend who always Facetunes her eyes to look ENORMOUS, and I gently ribbed her about it once- she denied it vehemently, even though she looked like a literal anime character.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I guess I understand doubling down to save face, but that’s so weird.

        Then again, I tilt towards the other extreme. When I was on Tinder, I did not use my best pictures or ones with alterations. Good photos, yes! But not spectacularly flattering photos I couldn’t live up to IRL. I wanted zero chance of someone feeling deceived. Same with my social media & web presence — good but never the BEST PIC EVER.

        Facetuning is a scourge. Everyone wants to look a little better, but I can’t believe this trend is not damaging.

  8. Jennifer*

    When you say clients have “called you out” on this, are they just pointing out that the photo is obviously photoshopped in a light-hearted way or are they actually threatening to take their business elsewhere? That’s a big difference. It sounds like the company has been around for a while and has a solid reputation already. I think it’s a good idea to let the higher-ups know just so they aren’t blindsided if a client brings it up, using Alison’s script, but after that, I’d let it go. I’m not sure if it’s as serious as you are perceiving it.

    I’m torn between thinking it’s a bit quirky and humorous and feeling sorry for Elizabeth.

    1. Jennifer*

      Sorry, just re-read and saw two clients took their business elsewhere. Yes, definitely mention it, but then let it go.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          It looks sloppy, and it’s blatant lying. It undermines the firm’s skills, credibility, and judgement.

          1. Kate*

            We also don’t know what this specific firm does. In some industries – this would get an eye roll and that’s it, in others it would be a very big deal. For example… a PR firm. If a PR Firm managed their social media with this level of bad photoshopping… I could certainly see client’s leaving over it. Now if it were a firm that managed some kind of really behind the scenes technology or manufacturing that no one really knows exists until they stumble into it – it might just get an eyeroll. But it just depends on the niche industry – what they do and how important their reputation is – and how small the industry is.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          It’s probably not the images themselves, but the mentality behind it. One scenario is that they don’t know Elizabeth is the one doing the photo editing herself, so they could think it’s someone else in the company editing these pics in an attempt to make her look “better” and ending up making her look worse, which can be off-putting. The second scenario is that if the company is fudging their social media pics, what else are they fudging? Are they doing some creative accounting these customers don’t know about? Are they lying about doing any work for them at all?

          There is a pattern of dishonesty here that could be causing concern about the seriousness of this firm.

          1. many bells down*

            I feel like, if I noticed really bad photoshopping on only one female employee… I would think someone else in the company had some weird vendetta against her. Like when I was in high school and someone on the yearbook staff hated one of my friends so all the photos of her in the yearbook are super unflattering and her name is misspelled 6 different ways.

            That would definitely weird me out not knowing who was being so juvenile at the company.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Yeah, I would think sexism myself. They’re trying to “pretty up” an unattractive woman and failing miserably.

        3. Me*

          It speaks to professionalism or really, the lack there of. Plus sloppy work if the image is badly done. Plus poor judgement. Etc, etc, etc.

        4. ChimericalOne*

          “Boring social media images” get a lot less boring when someone’s PhotoShopped themselves in those pics to be 6 foot tall and have 3 arms. Even if you didn’t care about the bad PhotoShop job, though, you might care when a company representative lied to you after you (or someone else) pointed out the (obvious!) PhotoShop. Lots of folks don’t like being lied to. It doesn’t matter if it’s on social media or face to face. If they’ll lie to you when it doesn’t matter (and when the truth is obvious to all), how could you possibly trust them not to lie when it does matter and you can’t tell for sure what the truth is?

          1. LQ*

            This was my assumption. That a client pointed it out or asked about it and then was lied to (knowingly or not) about it then left because if they are willing to lie about something that is so trivial I assume you will lie about everything.

          2. KristinaL*

            “If they’ll lie to you when it doesn’t matter (and when the truth is obvious to all), how could you possibly trust them not to lie when it does matter and you can’t tell for sure what the truth is?” This!

        5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          I’d see it as a quality-control issue, personally. If this is the kind of work product they look at and go “yup, this person should definitely continue doing this job,” then what are they gonna do with the work I’m paying them to do?

          1. CMart*

            That’s where my head is at too. “This is… so laughably bad. This company used to be great but it’s clear they’ve hired a bunch of people* who have no concept of professionalism. I’ll just move on to a place that has their act together, this one has gone downhill.”

            *I honestly would not think one rogue person would be the root/entirety of the problem. I would assume there was the person who ‘shopped it, the person who creates/approves the posts, likely the owners (if small enough) who have seen it and if not given approval, at the very least saw it and shrugged and thought it was fine etc…

            1. DJ*

              This would be my issue with it too. Especially if it’s happening more than once. If I saw one picture like that and it hadn’t been up very long, I could maybe let it go (I’d probably assume someone posted the wrong picture and that it would be fixed when someone noticed it), but it sounds like multiple photos on their social media are going up like this and staying up, which is kind of insane if the photoshopping is as obvious as the OP makes it sound like it is.

              Also, I feel like an obviously badly photoshopped picture would make me question whether or not something scammy is going on if I hadn’t had any other interaction with them, and since the photos are on social media, it seems likely they’ll be seen by people outside of their current client base. The OP knows of 2 clients who have moved on because of this, but they have no way of knowing how many people just aren’t bothering to contact the company in the first place.

        6. Witchy Human*

          Maybe someone was in a group photo with Jennifer and saw their own image sloppily warped by Jennifer’s bad photoshop. You’re turning my torso concave so that your chest can look bigger? I am going to have some doubts about you.

        7. blackcat*

          What if something from a branded event ended up on one of those “Worst Photoshop disasters” lists? I can totally see a company being like “Our company name ended up on X list, that’s not okay” and Elizabeth being like “I have no idea why! It’s not even photoshopped!” And then a company ending their relationship.

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            Yes. The main issue is not that she’s using the company’s photos from their BBQ or whatever and making herself into a giraffe, it’s that she’s taking photos from clients events or with clients and doing this. Those photos float around at the same time and make their events look terrible. It’s such an insane response to lie about photoshop when it’s so intense that I would think she was not a stable person as the client. Or that she was trying to play a bad prank or make fun of my company in some way and just can’t own up to it.

        8. Observer*

          Also, she’s posting images of OTHER PEOPLE that are problematic because of her phtoshopping. And when you are posting images of the same event that others are posting about, and you make changes clearly intended to make yourself look better than everyone else, that’s going to concern companies that are image conscious. And, that’s most companies. You don’t have to be paranoid to not want someone to make you look bad.

          1. Bryeny*

            Your first point is a critical one that I think OP needs to bring up if she discusses this with anyone else at her company: her manager isn’t only changing her own image; in the process she’s making fairly drastic, weird-looking changes to the way other people look. And even distorting the backgrounds. Be clear that this goes beyond “she’s trying to make herself look better” or “she’s bad at Photoshop.”

        9. Important Moi*

          I am approaching the age where the potential for ageism in the work environment could be an issue for me. Using that as my preamble and caveat, as a client I want a firm working for me that in addition to not being sloppy is aware of current norms. A good social media presence is now considered current norms. Not caring about someone’s boring social media pages unintentionally flag you of someone who is not aware of what is going on “now.” I realize that I may have to come back and finesse my comment based on other commenters reactions, but I think it’s worth mentioning.

        10. Delta Delta*

          If the organization was already a little shaky with the client – for whatever reason – this is potentially the nail in the coffin to go elsewhere. Also, clients may not like Elizabeth and this doesn’t help.

        11. Falling Diphthong*

          I imagine they did not enjoy being turned into three armed hobbits with missing torso chunks in the effort to make Elizabeth look taller.

        12. Gingerblue*

          People have given a lot of solid, rational answers here, but my bottom line is that it’s weird as hell.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I want to know why only the OP seems to know why these clients left.

        Is Elizabeth the only one who knows that? Surely not! Surely those clients had other people who were their representatives inside the company.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yeah, like an account manager. It doesn’t sound like that’s Elizabeth’s main job (but maybe it is?).

    2. Reda*

      OP states that two clients have left, citing this issue, so I don’t think you need to minimise her concerns like this.

    3. People are weird*

      She isn’t the only person in the world who feels self conscious about how she looks in photos, so if she is inadvertently making people look silly by twisting their torsos and cropping out their arms or whatever, and someone called and nicely asked her to either take it down or fix it and she outright lied about it, I can see plenty of people deciding that it’s too much hassle to be involved with their firm. Once someone is willing to lie when they know you know they are lying, how do you trust them ever again?

  9. animaniactoo*

    Something else that you might want to try is pointing at the push-back movement. Doing this is entirely dependent on how casual and uncommitted to being concerned about it that you can be, and how you think your boss will receive it. It would have to be a one-time thing, but you could raise at as “I was thinking about what you were talking about with impossible standards of beauty. I’ve been really impressed by stuff like Jamie Lee Curtis posting the completely unretouched photo of herself. Chrissy Teigen has been upfront debunking body perfection, posting images of her stretch marks on her social media. And then there was that whole Zendaya cover photo thing.”

    And then drop it and just leave it as food for thought,

    Posting the links to the mentioned stuff in my reply.

    1. Mathilde*

      Someone who is so delusional that she thinks she looks good in a photo where her hips are at the level of her subordinate’s head is not going to be swayed by a supermodel showing a little cellulite…

      1. theelephantintheroom*

        Right. I feel like maybe the manager in question should just try to avoid being in the photos if she can’t handle how she looks.

      2. boo bot*

        Yeah, I would also be wary of pointing to un-retouched celebrities unless you’re talking to someone who will actually look at them and see someone who looks like her. Sometimes I think those can be more demoralizing, if you look at the “realistic” pictures and still see something totally unattainable, and if this woman has serious issues with her body image (which seems likely) she’s probably going to feel bad in comparison no matter what she looks like.

        (I do think it’s great that they are pushing back!)

        1. Quill*

          Especially movie stars – starting out very pretty is often part of the job requirement, especially for actresses.

      3. animaniactoo*

        It’s not that she thinks she looks good – it’s that it’s the best she thinks she can make herself look. And yes, it’s possible that nothing would come of attempting this avenue. But it’s worthwhile to try for someone who thinks they HAVE to edit their social media presence in order to appear to be “up to standard”.

        The point is also not necessarily about seeing an immediate change of attitude. It’s a lot more about planting a seed that might grow into something more over time. Hopefully a relatively short amount of time, but also not as a replacement action for proceeding along the path that Alison laid out of “checking in” with somebody else about whether to flag the issue.

    2. Jennifer*

      It’s a nice thought. Personally, I’ve never felt that empowered by that. They still can afford the best skincare, nutritionists, personal trainers, reliable, round-the-clock childcare so they can work out as much as they want, plus the photos are still taken in the best lighting. They are trying to be relatable but they still have many advantages us normal women will never have.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think the message is that you start off looking like Chrissie Tiegan or Jameela Jamil, and that’s obviously nowhere near good enough so you’ll be getting skinnier hips and longer legs and bizarrely smooth skin.

      2. Dana B.S.*

        And Chrissy Tiegan has been super open about the fact that she got her entire face through plastic surgery. Elizabeth would probably love plastic surgery and cannot afford it.

    3. Blunt Bunny*

      Yes there is a whole body positive movement at the moment. Also I think photoshopping your work photos is deceitful and unprofessional. If an attendee wanted to share the picture from the companies official website they would be horrified at how bad the picture looked. Especially if attendees and clients are tagged in the posts all to make one person look “better”. If social media is becoming a key part of your industry your company will be seen as behind the rests I can see why clients would go elsewhere.

  10. CatCat*

    Clients and people from other firms have called us out online and privately.

    Who is responding to these messages? I am not clear if they all end up going to Elizabeth or what. I would be concerned about what she is saying to clients, especially if it is anything like what she said to OP when OP raised it.

    That said, Elizabeth’s behavior and attitude here are strange. If she were my manager, I would worry about jeopardizing my job by attempting to go around her over something like this. It’s just in the camp of weird for me and I wouldn’t personally stick my neck out because my manager is weird, even if that weirdness is impacting the company. Because Elizabeth also has a manager somewhere. Elizabeth’s job performance is that manager’s responsibility. That they’re kind of clueness is their problem and the company’s problem, but I would not make it MY problem as the lowest on the totem poll.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      This was my question, too. Is the LW the only one seeing these messages? If it’s Elizabeth’s job to post to social media but LW’s job to manage correspondence and responses related to Elizabeth’s posting, I feel like that gives her extra standing or possibly obligation to address it head-on. If other people in the firm are seeing these responses, too, then I’d be less inclined to say anything beyond what I’ve already said to Elizabeth (if I were the LW).

    2. Mel*

      I would guess that Elizabeth is, if she’s the one running the social media. That’s probably why customers left. Not because of the crazy photos exactly, but because of the response when they reacted to the photos.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      My impression is that we’re talking about Facebook or Instagram, and someone commented on the photo(s), which Elizabeth is replying to (as the firm) denying any Photoshop. OP also has social media and if she follows the firm, would be able to see these exchanges in the comments. No one else would see it if they don’t have social media.

      Otherwise, if it was private messages on social media, OP shouldn’t see them… and if people are calling in to complain, others should know about the situation already!

    4. Observer*

      This is more than weird- it’s terrible judgement and indicates a lack of integrity.

      Also, the OP’s job is at risk anyway, since she’s taller than Elizabeth, and height is apparently one of the things Elizabeth is hung up on.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          You’re being sarcastic, but again, depending on the industry they’re in (e.g., PR, marketing, advertising, etc.), this could piss off clients who care about integrity. Yes, these industries do their fair share of manipulating images and the truth, but the most ethical of the bunch and their clients usually don’t like flat out lying. And then as a customer, if I call you out for flat out lying and you lie to my face and say you didn’t do something I can clearly tell you did – yeah, you’re unethical and I want nothing to do with you at that point.

        2. Psyche*

          She lies to clients when confronted about the photoshopping. If that isn’t a lack of integrity, what do you call it?

        3. fposte*

          It doesn’t need to be Watergate to lose them clients, though, which apparently it has. Even if you consider this morally neutral, it’s a practical problem.

        4. LQ*

          If you can’t have integrity with something as simple as a photo, why would I assume you’d have integrity with my actual work? This is a thing that doesn’t matter and you’re already lying, why wouldn’t you lie when your company actually did a bad thing and you have incentive to lie?

  11. AndersonDarling*

    At my previous employer, our CEO used a picture form 20 years earlier for all her publicity events. She was 25 in the photos sent to events, but then a 45 woman would arrive to speak at the event. It really busted her credibility. Like the OP’s manager, the CEO thought it was fair game, in this case because women are scrutinized more than men. But there is a line that crosses from simple flattering editing to deception.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I let my hair go gray (it actually looks good!) and made a special effort to update my photo everywhere. Do I wish my looks were not an issue? Yes. Are my looks an issue? Yes. I get that Elizabeth wants to take control of that but just no. It’s one thing to trot out your own out-of-date or heavily retouched headshot. It’s another thing to try to make yourself look better than everyone else in the photo. I imagine it would be especially galling to people who get distorted, truncated, cast into shadow, or gain/lose an arm. That crosses over from quirky to obnoxious.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        As one should! I have an aunt who has past-the-shoulders length black hair in her profile pic on FB and has cropped gray hair in all her recent pictures (also no glasses vs. glasses). It’s confusing! There is also someone I know who heavily photoshops all her FB pics. She is my age (early 40s), but looks older thanks to a lifelong tanning bed issue and cystic acne scars, and her FB pics strive for 30. Elizabeth and the rest of the people like that–we all know you don’t look like that! It’s a waste of your time.

        1. Quill*

          I just spent the last dozen years using a burrowing owl as my profile pic. If I need you to friend me, you obviously already know my name and I’d tell you that the pic is an owl. :)

          1. AnotherAlison*

            A non-picture image is more clear than an out of date picture, IMO. The second person I referred to in my comment is someone I went to high school with, and then my kids went to the same school as hers in elementary. Now they are in HS in different districts, and I was pretty sure I saw her last weekend at a HS sporting event, but you have that moment of, “Is that Doreen, or not?” and you don’t want to embarrass yourself. That’s just casual personal stuff, and I’d be more awkward about it if it was Elizabeth-from-the-work-conference. It kind of looks like her. Should I say hello? I don’t know if it’s her. She seemed taller in the pic. I have a hard time recognizing people out of context anyway. (As do many others, evidence from the MLB game my department went to and no one said hi to each other because they didn’t know who was who with hats and sunglasses on.)

        2. Eukomos*

          One of my aunts’ facebook profile pic is of her holding her previous dog (who died at a respectable old age for a standard poodle) as a brand new puppy. I don’t think she’s trying to fool anybody, she just likes the picture and doesn’t update social media much.

    2. LKW*

      I was thinking along similar lines. I get wanting to remove a few wrinkles or touch up if any roots are showing (assuming one dyes one’s hair). But altering yourself so that you’re unrecognizable if at a conference or speaking engagement will actually be a disservice.

    3. copier queen*

      Real estate agents seem to do this a lot (I worked in real estate marketing for a few years). It actually gives people the impression that you don’t like yourself/don’t like the way you look now/have appearance issues if you use a photo that is 10-15-20 years old…and doesn’t represent what you look like now.

      1. Kate*

        yes! I always think either A. too lazy to update your marketing materials, or B. you know you’ve aged significantly and think that looking younger will get you more business? (I don’t often jump to image issues – but I suppose that’s in there too.) I honestly see this more in men than women – and both are guilty :)

    4. hbc*

      And even then, you can explain an old photo as “not spending time on image because I’ve got more important work to do.” Actively spending the time to mislead and getting busted for it is a triple whammy–you’re advertising that you’re unhappy with your looks, you’re apparently fine with producing sloppy work, and you’re spending time on superficial things rather than the work I’ve presumably hired you to do.

    5. Asenath*

      My assumption tends to be that the person in question isn’t interested in keeping their photos updated. This isn’t the case for Elizabeth, obviously, but I work with a lot of people who have minimal interest in their online photo, which raises few comments in a place where a LOT of employees have no photos online at all. My own photo isn’t online, and the one on my employee has been reused for years – last time I got a new card, they did ask if I wanted the photo re-done, and I told them not to bother.

      I think, whatever Elizabeth’s personal problems with her appearance, if she’s making the company website photos look silly, someone should address it. But it sounds like there aren’t many people at this company with a big interest in social media.

  12. Abogado Avocado*

    OP, I am so sorry, but this post made me laugh out loud. I am female, so I do get the oppressive beauty and grooming standards society requires for professional women, but OTOH, extra arms and hands!? You would be right to think your manager might have a screw loose.

    If I may add one additional bit of advice to the excellent advice that Alison has given you: before flagging this for anyone, be sure to print out — in a size large enough for whomever you’re dealing with — the especially absurdly distorted photos. I’m thinking the ones with extra arms and hands, in particular. That will definitely catch the attention of your contact AND will give them hard copies to hand around to those who don’t really have a grasp on social media and how your company is being represented. Remember, people remember 30 percent of what we say, but 70 percent of what they see (which, as I think about it, also goes for those who subscribe to your company’s social media accounts). I suspect that when others at the company see for themselves what your manager is doing, she’ll be advised to lay off the Photoshop.

    1. banzo_bean*

      Yeah, this post me laugh, feel guilty, then laugh again, and then kind of make a Cathy-esque “ACK” noise.

      I wonder if boss feels pressure to post more pictures of herself since she runs the accounts and it’s easier to get pictures of herself than others.

      1. Huh*

        Where does OP say Elizabeth posts more photos of herself? OP only mentions Elizabeth altering her own image. Other people are in the photos too and OP doesn’t say anything about Elizabeth posting herself more than anyone else.

        1. banzo_bean*

          OP doesn’t say it, I assumed it from my own experience running social media accounts for my work where I routinely had to use myself as a “model” because I had the time to do so. Like if I wanted to advertise our attendance at an event I would often only have photos of me (on my own or in a group) doing something at that event because those are the pictures other people gave to me rather than pictures of other members of my team. So if you look at pictures from those 4 years I’m in a larger number of them than other people are.

          Anyways, it made me hate that part of my job because I hate looking at photos of myself.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I did a weird closed mouthed laugh/snort when I hit the part about adding or removing limbs ans had to pretend ro cough so as not to sound like a maniac in the office. That part was hilarious!

      I don’t understand Elizabeth’s assertion that she needs to photoshop because of impossible beauty standards. In that case i would expect her to photoshop all the women as a sort of practice of sisterly solidarity. And really, she is just contributing to the idea of impossible body standards! I don’t know about everyone else, but I certainly can’t grow an extra arm or manage to loom over my coworkers so my hips are butting against their chest!!

      I have to feel sorry for Elizabeth. She must be very insecure. And then to be so bad at photoshop on top of that to the point where she is making herself look weird and/or unrecognizable and basically ruining the photos is embarrassing. Its really a sad situation when you think about it. And maybe on some level she realizes she is being absurd with the photoshop given that she is lying to clients about doing it and (if she knows why they’ve left) considers photoshopping herself to look better more important than keeping clients!

  13. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Hm. One angle you might take with this, OP, is when you bring it up to someone, go lightly the changes Elizabeth is making to her own image, and lean more on how badly she’s doing the photoshopping in general. Not because her doctoring her own image this way isn’t weird as hell, but the amateurish job is what really pushes it over the line from tolerably weird to truly bizarre. This way, you’re not making it about her relationship with her appearance, but rather the overall crappy job she’s doing with the company’s image, and therefore social media presence. If she were doing it to everyone in frame instead of just herself, a photoshop job that turns everyone into a Picasso escapee would still be a bad look!

    If you’re hearing significant blowback from the public and you’re losing clients, this is absolutely something upper management needs to know about. They don’t have to be social media whizzes to understand bad photo retouching — that’s been around for a lot longer than Instagram, and incurring reputational harm means that she’s not doing a good job in her role as social media manager.

    1. banzo_bean*

      Agreed, I would hate to hear the grandboss telling Elizabeth “you’re clearly 50 lbs lighter in this photo.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        But on the other hand I would love to hear what grandboss has to say about her , er, other hand(s).

        1. Quill*

          “On the other hand, your photoshopping is not up to a professional standard, so I need you to stop that. ON THE THIRD HAND, what’s this I hear about you telling clients that this photo where you’ve bisected the head of marketing isn’t photoshopped?”

          1. banzo_bean*

            Hmm maybe Elizabeth can make a case for getting a raise seeing as her many hands help her get so much work done!

            1. Quill*

              Nah, she’s only doing 1.5 people’s work with that extra hand. She’d have to go full millipede to get a raise.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Agree that this is the most neutral way to handle this situation and the best entry into “this isn’t professional and needs to stop”. Yet, I wonder if Elizabeth is told the problem is her Photoshop skills her takeaway will be to get better Photoshop skills. It’s still not ok to change anyone’s appearance (even your own) on company pages by so much — it’s not an honest representation in a professional setting. Adding 6″ in height and removing 50 lbs is … beyond extreme.

      1. Not Ansel Adams*

        “It’s still not ok to change anyone’s appearance (even your own) on company pages by so much — it’s not an honest representation in a professional setting.”

        Very, very hard disagree. There’s nothing wrong with it at all.

        1. Huh*

          If other firms or clients are having their people distorted and wrong looking by Elizabeth’s alterations I can see them being upset. If I held an event and a photo of the guest speaker or another attendee had distortions and missing parts on them, and then I was lied to about it, I would be angry.

        2. hbc*

          Can you explain your reasoning? Because if a company considers the pictures to be more or less a historical representation of something that actually happened, then any alterations beyond color-rebalancing and such would absolutely be considered a problem.

          There’s a lot of grey area between “whatever light rays hit the lens” and “distorted to the point of lying,” but I think Elizabeth has blown through that middle ground. I’d at least want to be able to tell someone about my meeting, “The shorter of the two women was Elizabeth, the boss” and not be contradicted by the electronic evidence.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            Typical retouching for this type of corporate photo is to brighten, adjust color, remove red eye, sharpen, crop, and maybe blur obvious logos or remove any distracting elements (like wires or poles coming out of people’s heads). But you try to never alter the actual people much, because it’s supposed to be realistic not a fashion shot, which is showing a fantasy.

            1. Mogwai*

              You’re forgetting things like:
              Removing blemishes
              De-contrasting skin
              Making eyes and teeth whiter
              Making eye irises more luminescent and contrasting
              Liquify filter to reduce weight
              Making lips more luminescent

              There are ample tutorials on how to do this in apps like Lightroom and DXO. It is very common.

        3. smoke tree*

          I don’t think it’s a major breach of ethics or anything, but presumably the point of having a photo is to depict the people who were actually there, not 10-foot-tall, multi-limbed organisms. Even if she was a photoshop expert, the people in the photo or people who subsequently meet Elizabeth would be understandably confused if she was a foot shorter, several pounds lighter, and has different hair and eye colour in real life.

          I do feel for Elizabeth, but I also think it’s a little bizarre that she created this social media presence for the company if she’s this uncomfortable with undoctored images of herself.

          1. Quill*

            I wouldn’t mind being a 7 foot tall, red eyed being, it’s just that the extra limbs might get in the way.

        4. Filosofickle*

          My “by so much” clause is where I believe the difference lies. Touching up photos isn’t dishonest, that’s pretty standard. Editing to this extreme is, especially where it affects other people in the shot and fundamentally alters the scene being depicted.

      2. Mogwai*

        The most junior person in the office does not get to tell her boss what isn’t professional, abd she doesn’t get to go to her grand boss about it either.

        This is not an ethical issue.

        OP should rightly expect to be fired if she does what you advise

    3. BadWolf*

      I agree, I would not lead with (and avoid mentioning) Elizabeth is changing her looks in an attempt to improve them. Focusing on the horrible editing (extra limbs, altering clients, weird image artifacts) are more than enough to get someone else to do social media (and/or prepare images for posting).

  14. Just no*

    I have a really hard time seeing how OP would not be more harmed than helped by calling attention to this. OP says that she is not the only person at the company whose image has been affected by Elizabeth’s weird Photoshopping, so presumably others are aware of what is happening. Because OP is a recent grad and a new employee, she stands to gain the least and lose the most from making a thing out of this. If one of my reports brought this to me, I’d think they were being petty. This does not rise to the level of a reportable issue, IMO.

    1. ChimericalOne*

      Others don’t necessarily know what’s happening if they don’t follow their company on social media (I don’t follow mine — and I’m a Millennial).

      You’d think it was petty if a report brought your attention to an issue that had already lost you two clients?

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Really? You’d think they were petty to bring hard evidence of a loss of clients to you, even if the reason seemed silly? Sure, it might be silly to take your business elsewhere because of bad social media handling, but it’s still hurting the company.

    3. Haven't Been There, Haven't Done That*

      Yeah, OP could seriously shoot herself in the foot over this or at the very least create a more distant unpleasant relationship with her manager. If it were my first job and I was the newest person there I don’t think I would go over her head. Beyond peace of mind knowing she did the right thing what does she have to gain? Peace of mind doesn’t pay the bills.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Sadly, I agree with you. Early in my career, I would have laughed and not said a word. Elizabeth clearly has problems, but management has failed to do anything about it (because I highly doubt the clients who left didn’t notify someone higher up in the firm as to why they left), so I would assume they didn’t give a damn. If they don’t, why should I?

        1. Anti shaming*

          I am stunned by the shaming going in insthis thread. Elizabeth “has problems” because she wants to photoshop her picture, something that is very common in photography?

          The only problem is that she doesn’t appear to be very adept at photoshop.

    4. Antilles*

      Hard disagree, based on this paragraph from OP:
      “Clients have accused her and the firm of deception and I know of two who have taken their business elsewhere because she photoshopped photos of herself at their events or lied about doing it when they asked her about our social media.”
      Losing clients and having people accuse your firm of lying? That is 100.00% worthy of management attention. Especially in a niche industry, where your reputation can make-or-break your ability to stay in business.

    5. Just no*

      I stand by what I said. I doubt that OP is the only person who is aware of this, so I don’t think it’s worth expending the extremely limited capital she has at the company over it. She is the most junior-level employee — she has worked there for a few months, at most, and everyone else has been there for 15 years. Reporting this is a risk that I, personally, would not take.

      Why do we assume she is the only one who knows that clients are leaving because of Elizabeth? What did the clients say when they left the company? IME, when clients are upset enough to walk away, they aren’t reporting that ONLY to the most junior-level person, whom they have presumably just met. That would be weird — she has only worked there for three months, at most, and presumably has no authority here whatsoever.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I doubt that OP is the only person who is aware of this,

        She said “I know of two who have taken their business elsewhere,” and something about that wording tells me that she heard it from someone else, so she can’t be the only one who knows.

        Losing a client is a big deal in a company; I would think someone would have asked them why they left. So people know. Or they should, if they were running their company with any competency.

        I think the OP should just get the popcorn out every time Elizabeth posts a picture.
        And take notes about what NOT to do.

        1. Mogwai*

          To be honest I would like to know how OP knows these clients left for the stated reason. Good professional services firms are hard to find and it would be odd to leave because of a photoshopped image. Either this is something very industry specific or OP does not have the full story.

          And why would the clients leave and tell only the most junior person in the office? That is not how client relationships at professional service firms work.

      2. sacados*

        I think it’s because in your original comment you said “this does not rise to the level of a reportable issue,” which is what people are disagreeing with. It’s definitely an issue that *somebody* should be reporting and dealing with ASAP. Whether that person should be OP or not is a separate issue. And Alison basically said the same thing in her reply. It could very well backfire on OP and cause retaliation from Elizabeth if whoever OP brings the issue to doesn’t handle it well. And as you said, she’s almost certainly not the only one who knows what’s happening and the problems it’s causing. Those are all reasons why, given OP’s position, it’s perfectly understandable that she might choose not to be the one to escalate this.
        But if there’s someone at the company who she trusts to handle the situation properly, then I don’t think it would be out of line for OP to bring it up if she chooses to.

        1. Just no*

          Ah, I see what you mean. I meant that I didn’t think it was a reportable issue *for OP*, not in general.

    6. Observer*

      Actually, apparently other than the OP, Elizabeth is the only one who sees the social media feeds, so they really wouldn’t know what’s going on. That’s why so many people are recommending that she actually print out the pictures.

      1. Just no*

        I don’t think that’s true. As several other commenters have pointed out, OP says that she “knows of” clients who have left the company over this, not that she is the only one who has been told directly by those clients.

    7. Observer*

      If that’s the kind of firm the OP works for, then the clients are 100% right to leave. Because the idea that reporting a problem that 1. indicates extremely poor judgement and 2. has driven away at least 2 clients is “petty” says a lot about the way an organization operates. And one of the things it says is that people are not free to bring up problems, which means that something WILL go wrong and it will NOT be caught.

      1. Just no*

        Meh. Something can be seen a certain way when one person — an extremely junior person who has no experience in the company or political capital — says it, and seen differently when someone else — say, someone with significantly more authority and/or who has actual knowledge of the clients who have left — says it.

        1. Observer*

          No. There are some things that even a junior person needs to be able to say. When they can’t bad things tend to happen. Especially in a case like this, where it’s known that the most of the staff doesn’t really have a solid knowledge base in a certain area.

          1. Mogwai*

            There are some things a junior person should say. “You’re over photoshopping your ugly visge” ain’t among them.

            1. pamela voorhees*

              But it’s not about ugly / pretty, it’s about Elizabeth making herself look like Slenderman, including extra limbs. And more importantly, if I go to a conference and take a nice picture with someone, I don’t then later want to see that on their conference page, I’m missing my stomach and shoulder and have distortion across my face and am standing next to an eldritch creature with extra legs, different colored hair, and a chest that grew three sizes that day. It clearly states something about their values, not just that Elizabeth has to look what she apparently considers “”pretty””, but that it’s literally okay if I am completely removed from the picture in the service of making her look “”pretty.””

  15. Mathilde*

    Her hips were at my chest and it looked bizarre. My torso was partially missing where she slimmed hers.
    This is… so strange. I mean, I kind of understand having the impulse to remove a blemish or to choose a flattering photo. I myself is in charge of social media, and I would not post a photo in which I am not at least tolerable.

    But this is… extreme. She isn’t making herself look prettier, she is making herself look inhuman. How is she missing that ? Or maybe she sabotaging others to look better ?

    1. Mel*

      Right! I’ve definitely fixed my own photos if I looked wonky in them (I never fail to look drunk in photos where everyone else looks fab!) But we’re talking about a better version of myself – not an alternate reality.

      I honestly wonder if this woman is ok!

    2. softcastle*

      I think sometimes when people who are less computer-savvy try to use Photoshop, it can have disastrous results that they often miss or overlook. Think the women who use those blurring and makeup apps on their facebook profile pictures to the point where it looks comical/vaguely frightening, but they continue to do it without a second thought. I had a coworker like this, who took all her wedding pictures and LinkedIn posts and morphed them in a way that was supposed to make her look thinner, but actually made the photos look totally absurd and obviously blown out and changed. She truly had no idea that they didn’t look completely normal and effective–I just don’t think she was attuned to “Photoshop fails” and obvious signifiers like warped fence posts and stationary objects like others are! I suspect this is what is also happening here.

    3. Yorick*

      I think if you’re truly unhappy with your appearance, it probably looks better to you even though it looks like awful Photoshopping.

    4. Observer*

      There is a site called photoshop disasters. One of the things that comes up all the time is how people’s bodies are affected when you try to change something else.

      On thing is that when you move something that was blocking the other person’s body, what you have left is more or less blank space instead of the rest of the body. No matter how you deal with that, it’s likely to cause significant distortions. Which is to say that I’m betting that there is a combination of her trying to make herself look better than everyone else and simple incompetence.

    5. Anonymeece*

      I mean, to be fair, there are plenty of professional examples in magazines and such of Photoshop fails – extra arms/hands/legs, drastically elongated necks so a woman will look part-giraffe, etc.

      So an amateur may not notice how bad it looks, especially if she’s used to seeing Photoshop everywhere. I see Instagrams and such that are so heavily filtered the people look alien, and I think, “Surely they must know…” but apparently not.

    6. hbc*

      She’s locked onto the idea that tall and thin is good and her build (presumably short and round) is bad, to the point that she’d prefer to look like a classic X-files alien than herself. I’m guessing she doesn’t even really see what she’s doing to the other people in the picture.

    7. smoke tree*

      Based on her response to the LW, I’m wondering if she’s internalized the idea that altering photos is a normal thing for women to do, and has really overestimated what that normally entails. Changing things like your height, hair length and eye colour seems pretty out there to me, apart from her photoshop incompetence.

    8. Cranky Neighbot*

      I don’t think she sees it. Kind of like that thing where people smooth their skin until their nose disappears, paint on #000000 black eyelashes, and think it looks fine?

      She may be editing photos on a smaller screen, like her phone, and not paying attention to details or zooming in for a better view.

  16. MK*

    I have to say, I am really surprised the company lost business because of this. Yes, it looks strange and unprofessional, but so is making business decisions about a firm based on one person’s basically harmless vanity.

    Off topic, but I think people with body issues especially shouldn’t photoshop themselves. It could escalate into serious problems.

    1. Mathilde*

      I am not. Social media is basically the most accessible look into a company. This would look so out there, unprofessional and unmanaged, that I am not surprised that they lost business.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yeah, agreed. If I were looking for a company to do business with, I would probably avoid the one that has a bizarre, poorly-photoshopped social media presence. Not because it’s a personal vanity issue, but because I would consider it potentially symptomatic of other quality-control issues.

        1. Artemesia*

          Bingo. If they can’t get this done professionally what else will they screw up? But I still wouldn’t take this on as the most junior person and my boss doing the ridiculous photoshopping. I have been the bright eyed and bushy tailed newbie who was willing to take the risk — other savier employees were happy to have someone else stick their neck out. The risk to the OP is greater than the possible upside. Let someone else take the risk on this.

          1. Aurion*

            Absolutely. If I were a new customer, I’d absolutely pass on this company for this –it screams sloppiness without quality control. And it’s true, because Elizabeth’s social media posts aren’t being controlled for quality content. As a customer I’d imagine this sloppiness would extend to the rest of the company too.

            I might stay if I were a longstanding customer and have insider knowledge that this is one maverick and not the entire company going to the dogs…but if Elizabeth’s rogue posts are damaging my company’s presence and reputation (her bad Photoshopping is making my staff look inhuman at a public event, etc) I’d probably ditch this place too.

            Elizabeth is causing actual harm to the company. This is not just a bizarre quirk.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Ding ding. It’s like when a company has a really ugly website, or one with lots of typos; it signifies “we are unprofessional and not very skilled/bright, don’t care about quality control, are oblivious to how others perceive us, and are maybe even scammy.”

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          This. And god forbid if this niche industry is in any way related to imagery (PR, marketing, advertising, etc.) – then this makes what OP’s boss is doing even more egregious.

      2. copier queen*

        Agreed. I 100% judge a company by their social media accounts. If what they post looks unprofessional, tacky, amateurish, etc., I assume their products/services could be, too. Companies should take social media just as seriously – if not more seriously – than paid marketing campaigns.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Yep, if a company’s business isn’t directly related to marketing, they should consider not having a big social media presence. Sometimes it’s better to just post some company news every month rather than have an off the rails presence like this.

          1. Veronica*

            Yes, I would respect a company that has a good no-nonsense media page with info and maybe some pictures of their product or service.

      3. ChimericalOne*

        Agreed. People don’t like being lied to and PhotoShop already feels like a “lie” to many people (and the more extreme the distortion, the more likely it is to register as deception). On top of that, Elizabeth is also actually telling lies when people note the (obvious!) PhotoShop. If a company I patronized lied to me blatantly on social media and then lied about lying to me, I imagine I’d probably be insulted enough to go elsewhere (and I would definitely tell people about the bizarre experience). Especially if it was not a one-off event but a continuing one.

        1. theelephantintheroom*

          The outright lying was the part that got me, too. As a consumer, I would probably laughed at a horrible PS job. But if I called it out and the response was, “This wasn’t Photoshopped” I would feel gaslighted. She’s basically making clients feel crazy for her own “vanity.” (In quotes because I just don’t get how you can be so obsessed with your image and NOT notice when you have an extra arm.)

      4. FormerFirstTimer*

        Right, and a competent social media manager would recognize this. Broken links are one thing, they happen, but to purposely represent an entire company with badly photoshopped photos of just ONE staff member, makes the company look bad, and to be frank, out of touch with the real world. Social media is how everything is judged these days, like it or not.

      5. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        Yep. I’d react similarly to a company whose website had a hot pink background with comic sans font.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      Oh, I’m not surprised. If they were this sloppy and/or dishonest at something that so directly affects their image to the outside world, I’d wonder what other parts of the business are also sloppy and/or dishonest. If it were a one-off, eh, whatever, but since she does it consistently and repeatedly, that’s an issue.

      Particularly since it sounds like some of these doctored images came from client events, so she’s now associated the client with their unprofessionalism, and I’d be pretty pissed if I were a client.

      1. The Bean*

        In addition to looking sloppy, is shows a lack of judgment that would be beyond a mistaken typo. More equivalent to posting an ill-advised screed on social media.

        1. AKchic*

          And depending on how she responded to public call-outs, there might be an ill-advised screed somewhere by her using the company account, or at the very least, representing the company. In either case, it is *not* a good look. Not that the poor photoshopping was to begin with.

        2. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

          Also, it’s not like this is the personal account of the photoshop addict, but the company’s PROFESSIONAL social media account. I think it warrants a , “can I ask you for advice about _______” type conversation with somebody else in the company (and especially because there are clients complaining/leaving over this).
          I would feel totally different if this was her personal account, but it’s not her personal account. And this opinion is coming from someone with ZERO social media presence (I just don’t have the time for it, or don’t want to take the time away from my family to be on it).

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I do business with some people who don’t have smart phones. I work with companies and people that have rudimentary social media or websites. I can cope with that. But this level of photoshopping weirdness to me is a red flag for what else might be weird. If I were aware of this kind of thing, I might very well take my business elsewhere.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly this. Boring or not very active social media? No big deal. Pictures that are not great, still not a major issue. Blatantly and poorly photoshopped pictures? Problem. Phtotoshop that makes other people in other companies look bad? Hm. *Lying* about it? Major problem.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      If I had a few choices of a company to hire, and they were pretty much equivalent, I would wonder about the judgement of a company that was presenting itself so poorly. And if the business had anything to do with legal, healthcare, or marketing work, then I definitely would move on to another company. Part of it is because of the odd over-the-top photoshoping, and part is because there is no oversight on their social media, or there is oversight and they think this is okay.

      1. Elbe*

        Exactly. If the firm has anything to do with public image, I would expect this to be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

    5. M. Albertine*

      You must have missed this tidbit: ” have taken their business elsewhere because she photoshopped photos of herself at their events or LIED about doing it when they asked her about our social media” (emphasis mine).

    6. Elbe*

      I’m not surprised at all. Especially if the firm’s business is something that requires a high degree of trust and professionalism, this would be a major red flag to a lot of people.

      Even if Elizabeth is only intending to Photoshop herself, she’s still altering other’s people’s appearance in photos that she’s posting publicly. That’s not an okay thing to do. I wouldn’t blame clients for losing faith in a firm where they were altered so that someone else could look better.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t think prospective clients would have any way of knowing it’s just one person’s vanity. They’d see a bunch of very weird pictures and wonder what the hell was going on at that place.

      I’ve passed on doing business with companies who had shitty websites or social media pages. I mean, would you hire someone who showed up to an interview dressed like they were going to a Halloween party? Unless you were staffing a haunted house, probably not. How you present yourself does matter.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Agreed. If I am looking for a provider for a service online, and I don’t have any personal references or reason to be invested in a specific one… The firm that stands out as ‘weird’ probably isn’t going to make my list for ones I should reach out to (when there’s probably other options that don’t have weird contorted images on their site).

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      The type of business OP’s firm is in might also matter. If honesty and integrity are crucial and they are seeing this “false advertising” or deliberate alteration of reality, I could see questioning if they were the right firm for me. In addition, Elizabeth’s response to OP when the subject came up was combative so I would assume that her reaction to clients would be dismissive.

    9. Jennifer*

      I can understand not starting a new relationship with the company because of weird photos but leaving if the quality of service has remained the same? I don’t get it…

      1. Not Me*

        I read it as clients had asked about it and been lied to, so they took their business elsewhere. It’s one thing to see it and think it’s odd, it’s a bigger deal to actually lie about it when asked though.

      2. Observer*

        Well, I would be worrying that services are not going to stay the same – or that there is ALREADY trouble and I just haven’t found out yet.

    10. Anonymeece*

      Along with the issues everyone else has brought up, I also wonder if they’ve lost clients after Boss refused to admit it. I wouldn’t take my business elsewhere just for bad Photoshop (unless my company had something to do with image/PR/social media/digital tech), but if I gently called them on it and they blatantly lied about it, then I would. What else would they lie about?

      1. MarsJenkar*

        Yeah, that’s the point at least a few commenters seem to be missing. The clients aren’t leaving because of the photoshops per se, but because she blatantly lied about them being photoshopped. It’s the dishonesty that’s the real problem here. Heck, if I saw that exchange on their social media page, it might put the company on my personal blacklist because I wouldn’t be able to trust them.

    11. Cranky Neighbot*

      I think this kind of thing shows really poor judgment. I’d wonder if the company was doing okay.

    12. Lora*

      To me it’s an indicator that this company does not hire qualified professionals to do things. They hand off tasks which should be handled by professional specialists to someone who vaguely did the thing once, and then when the results are terrible they don’t see a problem with that.

      I mean, sure, Elizabeth can have her very own Geocities/Angelfire site with all her photoshopped glory, MIDI tunes and Blingees to her heart’s content, with her 7th grade poetry efforts as the header in fluorescent pink blinking Comic Sans. If she wants. But I ain’t going to hire her employer even if they are the very best (something other than PR/Marketing) people in the whole world. I’d rather see absolutely no online presence than a bad one.

  17. Veronica*

    In coping with Elizabeth it might be helpful to tell/remind her that almost everyone doesn’t like photos of themselves. If she doesn’t like photos of herself, she’s normal.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      *Raises hand* Yeah, I hate pics of me, too, and that’s one reason I’m grateful not to work in a role where I expect to have photos of me show up on company social media.

      Come to think of it–does Elizabeth need to be in front of the camera? Would it look bad to the firm if she wasn’t in those pics? Could she be the one behind the camera, if that would make her more comfortable?

      1. Quill*

        I think in the long term giving her control behind the lens might be better for the company and the kindest way to deal with it? (And faster for her to pick up than photoshop, but given the quality of her photoshopping I doubt she’s got a particularly sensitive eye for composition…)

      2. smoke tree*

        But it sounds like Elizabeth is the one who set up the social media presence, and I assume she’s also the one who decided to post those photos. I would assume that if she just hates to have photos of herself posted, she wouldn’t have done that? I’m so confused and fascinated by her choices.

    2. FormerFirstTimer*

      It also may help to point out that if she doesn’t like the way she looks in a photo, she doesn’t have to post it! At this point, posting nothing is going to be better than her posting a photo of herself looking like Frankensteins monster. And TBH, I find it weird that she apparently posts so many photos with her in them to the company account.

    3. Antilles*

      It’s also worth noting that she’s almost certainly making herself MORE noticeable by changing stuff.
      Very few people just read a company’s social media for fun – especially for a small niche company. Like, it’s cool you had a booth at the trade show, but whatever, don’t care, seen plenty of men and women wearing suits at trade shows, not even a second thought about it.
      But if you have three hands or the proportions of the photo are weird, that’s going to make people stop and pay way, way more attention to what’s weird with the photo than if you were just Generic Woman In Dress #6.

  18. FormerFirstTimer*

    First of all, the fact that she apparently does such a bad job and can’t see that it’s obvious is strange. Second of all, this is one of the reasons it behooves all companies to have a firm social media policy for staff. Someone in charge needs to know what’s happening. I understand that social media is new to the company, and the people in charge aren’t very familiar with it, but they are familiar with how the company is to be represented and I very much doubt this is it.

  19. drpuma*

    I’m a little confused about how/why the OP (and maybe Elizabeth?) are the only people in such a small firm who know clients are leaving because of this? Particularly if comments are being made at conferences and events – are the OP and their boss the only folks from their org who go to conferences? I wonder if there is an opportunity, the next time someone comments to the OP, for them to say something like, “I agree! I know you normally work with Lucinda – have you mentioned anything to her?”

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The most junior person at a company might be better off saying “I haven’t been here long enough to address that issue.” and referring the customer to Elizabeth *and* to $grandboss.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +1
        Staying neutral is probably wiser when it comes to someone critiquing your company (especially when you’re new and especially if some of these conversations are occurring in comments on social media, which was kind of my impression).

  20. copier queen*

    I would definitely bring this up – and try to do it in a setting where you can easily pull up the social media accounts (on a computer screen or larger, not something like a phone where it might be hard to see the crappy photos), so the person you’re talking with can easily see how bad the photos are.

  21. thatoneoverthere*

    Bring it up, but bring the examples with you. Chances are if there was no social media presence before and the higher ups haven’t noticed, they may not “get” exactly what she is doing. Especially if they are not people use social media outside of work. Bring the picture up on a computer or print them out. If someone has told you writing “we left because of this photo”, bring that evidence as well.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah. A lot of people who don’t use social media consider it a bunch of dumb pointless crap where those no-good “millenials” are frittering away their days. (The people they’re looking down on are probably actually Gen Z at this point, but never mind.) Surely nothing that happens there could ever have consequences in “real life”. They will probably have to be led by the hand to understand how something happening on social media could actually matter.

    2. Massive Dynamic*

      I’d bring the one where OP’s torso was collateral damage and frame it that Boss needs to stop altering OP’s image first and foremost. And then hey, look how whackadoo she’s making herself look as well.

      1. valentine*

        frame it that Boss needs to stop altering OP’s image first and foremost.
        This could easily get a “Catfight!” response that would overshadow the real concern OP needs to focus on: the loss of clients.

        1. pamela voorhees*

          If Elizabeth has photo shopped a client to look bad/distorted, that would be a better one to bring in.

  22. Elbe*

    It does sound like Elizabeth has legitimate body image issues – but a workplace social media account is not the place to work through those. If she can’t post an unaltered photo of herself, she should just stick to not posting photos of herself at all. When she’s healthier, she’s going to look back on this and cringe. I hope it’s not damaging her reputation in the industry too much – this is very unprofessional.

    If the client are listing this as their reason for leaving only to the LW (which sounds kind of odd), the LW could ask them to speak to someone else about it. A business-ending complaint shouldn’t be given only to the newest employee who can’t do anything about it.

  23. No Tribble At All*

    Remember when GQ ran a photo of people at a ‘Tech Titans’ conference where the only women were Photoshopped in? It wasn’t that bad of a photoshop job– they look fine, at a passing glance– but people figured it out. The provider of the photo claimed it was because they’d forgotten to get a group shot on the day when the women were there. GQ and the conference organizer got a ton of bad publicity because (a) photoshop your diversity in tech, lol and (b) you did rookie photoshop to lie!! You’re literally lying! I can 100% see how you’re losing business because of this. It makes the entire firm look sloppy.

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/tech-titans-women-fake-photoshop-cucinelli-gq

    1. Media Monkey*

      or the Ford marketing materials where they had to photoshop in people of different ethnicities to hide the fact that everyone in the photoshoot was white.

    2. LabTechNoMore*

      Haha, I keep wondering if my inability to land a tech job is due to some technical shortcoming, and then articles like this remind me that it’s due to a “cultural fit,” with the culture being white techbro culture and the fit being whether or not one is a upper-middle class white dude.

      And, back on topic, it could also hurt your firm’s image to have one of the only two women on your group shots being very photoshopped. As others have pointed out, people outside your company have no idea who’s doing the photoshopping, which can look like someone else is holding the women in your office to the must-grow-extra-limbs-to-fit-in standard of beauty.

    3. OrigCassandra*

      Or the notorious case at the University of Wisconsin where an African-American student was badly ‘shopped into an otherwise-all-white football-crowd shot used in university publicity materials.

      That one won’t ever be lived down, though of course UW has to try.

    4. emmelemm*

      Yeah, I don’t get how people are saying “I don’t get why this is such a big deal, clients are actually *leaving* over this?”

      So this firm has publicity photos on its social media. Presumably some pictures of some event where they interact with a client, another company, showing how successful the project is of whatever. If the Photoshop is particularly heinous, a potential client might say “Did they even work with that company at all? Did they just steal a photo and cut/paste themselves in?” It makes their firm seem really, really off.

  24. Auntie Social*

    The social media job is about the company, not about Elizabeth. She should have that position taken away from her, pronto, once the higher ups see that they are losing clients and credibility. She can edit photos until she has three boobs on Facebook.

  25. Observer*

    I think that it might be easier if you reframed this – It’s not a social media problem, but a PR problem. Would she photoshop herself in a press release or a brochure that the company released? This is no different.

    I would think that if you told whoever is in charge of PR / Customer relations that she’s heavily, bizarrely and incompetently photo-shopping herself in materials that are seen by clients, they would get it. Especially if you know that it’s come up and two clients have already left over this.

  26. Seeking Second Childhood*

    But on the other hand I would love to hear what grandboss has to say about her , er, other hand. Hands.

  27. wittyrepartee*

    Just explain to your clients that one of your coworkers actually lives in a transdimentional vortex that warps the very nature of reality around her.

    “Oh. No, that’s not a mistake, sometimes her third leg shows through the wormhole.”

    1. Witchy Human*

      “She brought back some of those ‘Eat Me’ cookies from her last visit to Wonderland, and now she’s just constantly growing and shrinking. Also, if she asks you to play croquet, I don’t recommend it.”

      1. wittyrepartee*

        “And she’ll just go on and on and on about it. Or that might be the time dilation. It’s unclear.”

        1. Quill*

          “As is the non-euclidean geography of her desk. Seriously, we lost an intern in Elizabeth’s cube this quarter and they turned up in the previous fiscal year.”

    2. wittyrepartee*

      “It’s so uncomfortable to stand next to her in an attractor zone. I lost a piece of my right torso last time and it took almost a day to reconstitute!”

  28. gbca*

    I’m a little confused about how much the higher ups at the company know about why these clients left. Do only OP and Elizabeth really know why? Or do others as well? If the former I think OP absolutely has an obligation to tell someone that Elizabeth is doing things to lose clients. If they know why but seem oblivious I don’t think OP is as obligated to really spell it out for them (but I don’t think she’d be out of line if she wants to, using Alison’s approach).

  29. CynicallySweet*

    This honestly makes me think of all those galleries out there of bad photoshopping. They’re entertaining n all, but I’d be pretty mortified if a manager at my company showed up on one

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    One thing I’m wondering is why are the clients upset and calling you out.. Do they care that the images are photoshopped, or is it just the sloppy nature of it that makes it look unprofessional? If it’s just the latter, as others have said it might be time to hire a more professional social media person.

    1. wittyrepartee*

      “How tall and tan do you want to be? I was thinking 5’9″, and we’ll lighten you from *dark bronze* to *lightly sunkissed* in the winter months”.

  31. Free Meerkats*

    I actually think that Alison buried the lede here. The LW should lead with the lost accounts with the higher up. Something like, “I’m concerned about a couple of lost accounts, Veeblefetzer Industries and Cogswell Cogs.” Then continue with Alison’s advice, but be sure to bring along printouts of the worst ‘shops, especially those at events with the lost accounts.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      I like this, not least because it shifts the answer to the “who cares about this?” question firmly away from OP (who is junior ergo vulnerable) and onto the lost accounts.

  32. Environmental Compliance*

    Does no one else in the company look at any promotional material before it’s sent out? Slimming herself down aside, who would approve something to go out for public info with someone having 3 arms? Or with people missing chunks of torso? Even at the office of 4 I was working at previously, there was always 2 people reviewing each social media post before it went out just to check for grammar/typos/weird wording.

  33. Rex Manning*

    As a social media manager for a large organization, the thought of this happening is giving me stress hives. I absolutely agree with all the other commenters that OP needs to take some hard examples of this stuff to the higher-ups, and it needs to include the ridiculous photoshop examples, the complaints against the business, AND how it’s affecting clients. Then, once that’s taken care of, somebody needs to hire out some actual social media training and write some usage guidelines that include language on how photography will be treated when used for official purposes.

  34. Holly hendricks*

    If a client raises this with you, it would be powerful to have them directly address it with a senior marketing person.

  35. Case of the Mondays*

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned here yet is the issue of lightening the skin of minorities. There are a lot of people in the entertainment industry pushing back on the lighter being prettier thing. This raises all kinds of cultural issues but a lot of it stems from plain old racism. I’m not sure how a company should respond if an individual wants their skin lightened in a photo but I know that companies have caught a lot of flack for lightening an employee’s skin without their permission. If “Elizabeth’s” photo shopping bonanza is causing other employee’s skin to be lightened (even if it is part of her trying to lighten her own skin tone) there could be some major push back.

    1. Observer*

      To be honest, this is the least of their problems. Not because this is not a legitimate issue. But because the rest of it is so bizarre.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I was reading too quickly and misread a prior comment. People were talking about smoothing skin and whitening teeth and I read it as whitening skin. Not trying to “concern troll” here. Sorry!

      2. Case of the Mondays*

        I have a comment in mod but I basically misread something in the original post and comments. Sorry!

    2. Quill*

      I think this would be addressed pretty easily (if it’s even occurring) with the same route as “Elizabeth needs to stop making herself look like Slenderwoman.”

  36. CC*

    “I know of two who have taken their business elsewhere because she photoshopped photos of herself at their events“

    To clarify, does this mean she photoshopped herself in photos taken of herself at these events, or is she photoshopping herself *into* the photos to make it appear she attended events?

    1. Amber Rose*

      It sounds like she was at the events, but photoshopped herself so badly that the companies hosting the events were offended and thought it made them look bad. Which… I can kinda see.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        That’s how I read it too. If it was the client’s event and she’s putting these mangled photos out there, that means the reputational impact is hitting the client, not just OP’s employer. I can absolutely see terminating a business relationship over something like that.

    2. BadWolf*

      I was wondering the same thing. If she’s adding herself to events, that’s a huge problem in itself (even if the editing was good).

      If she’s copying the photo from a client’s social media and then editing it and posting on the OPs company social media, that’s also problematic, I think.

      1. Feline*

        Assuming the other company gave permission to use the image, they probably didn’t give permission to create a derivative work from it. It’s a legal copyright permission she’s probably trampling. Not that the whole meme-infested world of social media isn’t one big copyright violation, but some copyright holders do care, especially if it makes their content look…. weird.

  37. Cyrus*

    “Can you give me your advice on something? I’m concerned about the extreme Photoshop work Elizabeth does on the photos of herself she posts on our social media — she regularly makes herself significantly taller, lengthens her hair, changes her eye color, and filters her face, to the point that it looks nothing like her. The changes are often really obvious — the photos are distorted and sometimes she’s accidentally given herself an extra hand or removed a leg. I’ve been worried it’s making us look unprofessional, and I’ve learned at least two clients have stopped working with us over it, while others have accused the firm of being deceptive in our photos. Should I flag this for someone?”

    I’d be careful how you phrase this. Not to second-guess Alison, but it seems a bit too close to the OP volunteering to deal with the problem herself. Ideally the higher-up would think about it for a second, realize the OP isn’t well-positioned to do anything at all about this, and take it on themselves or refer the OP to the right person. Realistically, there’s a good chance they would either call Elizabeth and the OP into a three-way meeting, which might be effective but would definitely be awkward, or would say, “yeah, you’re right, go ahead and talk to her,” which seems like the worst outcome of all.

    Maybe the OP should state more explicitly that they already talked to Elizabeth and it didn’t help? Or maybe instead of “Should I flag this for someone?” end with “She’s my manager, so I don’t really have the standing to do much about this, what do you think?” It’s more open-ended, while making the potential problem more clear to the higher-up.

    1. Qwerty*

      The alteration you suggested makes it sound like OP is asking for advice on how to talk to Elizabeth about the photoshop changes and increases the chances she’ll be told to talk to Elizabeth about it. Alison’s script is about bringing this to someone *besides* Elizabeth who has the authority to tell her to stop. Asking “what do you think” starts veering into gossip territory. It doesn’t present a solution or possible course of action. At best she’s dumping the problem on someone, at worst she looks immature.

      I don’t see why anyone would pull OP and Elizabeth into a three way meeting – this isn’t a conflict between the two of them. They can get the examples off social media (possibly with OP’s help) and have the conversation directly with Elizabeth, in private. If the higher up person thinks that the extra limbs are no big deal, they can just OP not to worry about it.

    2. Argh!*

      OP could complain about not getting the same flattering treatment. “I want whiter teeth and a smaller waist, too!”

  38. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I think this deserves to be flagged for the company, because this account belongs to the company not Elizabeth the photoshop addict. The company has a right to a say in how they look, and I can’t imagine that they look professional and polished with Elizabeth’s odd sounding editing.

    As for how the other employees there don’t know what is going on, they may not have social media accounts of their own and therefore aren’t seeing what is being posted on the company account. And if Elizabeth as the person running the account is also the one fielding all comments/complaints she is in a position to keep the rest of the company in the dark as to what is going on. It may be time to take these duties and make them a position of their own (even if only as a part time gig) and have Elizabeth focus more on the parts of her job that were why she was hired originally.

  39. JSPA*

    If the photoshopper herself is framing this as a body dysmorphia thing or a compulsion–hard to tell definitively from OP’s letter, but it sounded to me like far more than, “women are under pressure and I’m a woman”–I’m not at all sure how to navigate the minefield between “oppressive gender norms” and “mental health issue” within the boundaries of workplace guidelines for minding your own business.

    Perhaps bring up to her that other people feeling uncomfortable with THEIR images, as caused by her manipulation, is part of why her alterations are problematic for others? (And maybe point out that neither run-of-the-mill self-criticism nor full-blown dysmorphia are unique to women.)

    Perhaps bringing in a photoshop pro who can make the edits she needs, set semi-reasonable boundaries, and prevent her from distorting others and removing / adding body parts, would work for her (and for the company)?

    Alternatively, if she’s not actively seeking the limelight, the company should absolutely give her the option of not being included in photos (if that triggers a problematic response).

    If there’s any part of herself that she’s comfortable with “as is”–or if an arty shot through a translucent panel would allow her to be present and accounted for, but make it OK that she doesn’t look the way she feels she needs to look–a good and compassionate photographer might be able to help.

    I’m not saying that the current outcome doesn’t suck, and isn’t ridiculous (for all but the manipulator). Just that a combination of compassion and practicality may find a solution that everyone can live with comfortably.

    Again, we don’t know if this is diagnosable BDD, and I’m 100% not intending to diagnose it as such; but if it is, a research paper, “Suicidality in Body Dysmorphic Disorder,” gives the figure that “approximately 80% of individuals with BDD experience lifetime suicidal ideation and 24% to 28% have attempted suicide.” As a manager, I would err on the side of not saying, “you WILL be in photos, those photos WILL be on the internet, and you WILL NOT alter them in any way.” Could be that the web-non-savvy managers above her have already gamed through the non-web part of the issue, and come to the conclusion that warped pictures are the “less bad” outcome, here.

    1. Huh*

      Uh, no. This isn’t a fashion or art show. Having a “pro” make her look different, or taller or thinner isn’t needed or practical. These are candid photos at industry events. Your suggestions are way off and would do nothing to solve the problem.

    2. LawBee*

      You’re going a lot deeper than the question requires. The problem is that the person in charge of the company’s social media is putting laughably poor photoshopped pictures on the internet which is costing the company clients. This is not something she should be in charge of, primarily because she is doing such a terrible job of it.

    3. Observer*

      Nope. For one thing, this is WAAAAY more than is reasonable for the company to do. And it’s not clear that it will work for someone who really is dealing with Body Dysmorphia or the like. Much like it’s rarely helpful to accommodate an OCD sufferer by enabling their obsessions.

      Beyond that, it’s not even practical – she’s not just changing photos taken by the company. She’s changing her copy of photos taken by other organizations. There is nothing that any photographer hired by the company can do for her with those photos.

  40. Budgie Buddy*

    This reminds me of the one where an employee was regularly breaking chairs but refused to use a reinforced chair because of the stigma of “fat people chairs.” Both these people are so far down the body image rabbit hole, they are actively working to undermine their credibility.

  41. JKP*

    Since she is in the photos, she obviously didn’t take them. Which begs the question who took the photos, or rather who owns the copyright to the photos?

    Was there a professional photographer hired in to take photos at the event? Did the client take the photos themselves and then pass them on as a gesture of goodwill?

    Perhaps it could be framed as “I’m concerned that the company could be open to liability by altering photos it doesn’t own the copyright to.”

    1. AKchic*

      You know… that is a very good point.

      Add in the whole “we’ve already lost two respected clients” and “we are losing goodwill every time someone publicly calls us out and she lies about the edits” and “we’ve had calls to the company that didn’t go online, but I can only deflect so much, and who knows how many other people are taking calls, or how many she’s handling herself…” and a higher-up might actually decide that she isn’t the right person to manage the social media aspect of the company.

  42. chickia*

    How about printing a few of the worst pictures (that are also of a group of clients at an industry event), and saying that you think that we should have some newer pictures around the office? If there’s a bulletin board, a or a group kitchen or break area, you can post them helpfully . . . “because I know that a lot of people aren’t on social media and thought they’d like to see a picture from the xxx event we just did with our clients!” Not a direct conversation like is usually recommended, but you might get your point across without confrontation that way.

  43. arcya*

    Ok I don’t have any advice on this but I kind of love your boss? Those corporate event photos always make me look like someone’s goofy child visiting the office on a field trip. Just IMAGINE seeing that and being like, “to hell with this, Imma be 6 inches taller than everyone else with AMAZING hair. Also, three arms now. Fight me.”

    I hope next time she gives herself cat eyes & wings. Live your dreams.

    1. Beth*

      I bet editing in wings and sparkles and owning it would cause less of a problem than adding half a foot and a third arm and then claiming it’s unedited. Come on, Elizabeth–if you’re going to do it, own it!

  44. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    How long before one of these disasters go viral? When the company becomes s laughing stock, someone will be bellowing ‘why wasn’t I told about this’

    I think OP should tell someone, and also state that she tried to broach the subject with Elizabeth and was shot down. I’d also askto be kept out of it for fear of reprisal. (And leave out the fact that OP’s image was distorted. That can make the issue misconstrued as OP vanity)

  45. Argh!*

    This seems like a self-correcting problem. Unless the higher-ups are so stupid that they deserve to go bankrupt, someone will figure it out and fix it. LW meanwhile can just document the weirdness in case someone asks how long it’s been going on, but bosses who are bad in ways that we know can sometimes be good in other ways we don’t know. If it’s a fatal flaw, customers will let the higher-ups know.

  46. !*

    “When the photo is taken at a conference or client event, Elizabeth will look completely different in photos taken and posted by others at the event vs. the ones she posts herself.” I just hope, for her sake, there are no captions on these photos to identify her as the same person in both photos!

  47. Jessica Fletcher*

    I don’t think you even need to specify that she’s editing her body, which might make the higher up feel awkward or, if they’re a certain kind of person, might make them discount this as a jealousy thing between women.

    I think it’s fine to say she’s photoshopping pictures in ways that clients and other firms are commenting on or complaining about, and then mention the lying and clients leaving. They’ll look at the pics themselves and see what she’s photoshopping.

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, the fact that it’s her body is not the real story. It’s that it’s highly obvious, it’s extremely sloppy, it’s messing with the rest of the picture (including images of other people, it’s annoying clients, and she is lying about it.

  48. JJ*

    I’m a little surprised no one has touched on the TIME aspect yet. If she’s doing that much photoshopping, even if she’s quick at it it’s got to be eating up a lot of her day. Could OP point to project delays that occurred because Liz was busy abusing the Warp Tool? Avoid the entire sticky talking-about-her-body-at-work part altogether?

  49. Luna*

    “she said I should understand how hard it is for women who have body issues when the standards of beauty are impossible.”
    I am just SO GLAD that I do not care about these standards of beauty. I don’t understand them, and I don’t want to understand them.

  50. MissDisplaced*

    Sounds like “”Elizabeth” doesn’t know Photoshop and social media the way she thinks she does!

    It’s become so bad it’s not a social media issue, it’s a potential public relations disaster in the making.

  51. Beth*

    OP, what exactly is your position in relation to all this? Does anyone at your firm other than you and Elizabeth see the social media posts regularly? You mention customer complaints–have those come directly to you, or did you hear about them through the grapevine?

    If you have good reason to think that others in your company really aren’t aware this is going on, or really don’t understand the impact it’s having, then it’s probably a good idea to bring it to someone. I’d focus on the customer complaints, personally. Elizabeth photoshopping herself to this degree is weird, yeah, but if it weren’t for the impact it was having on customer relations, it would just be a weird quirk. But it is having an impact–your firm is losing customers’ trust and losing business, and through their documented complaints, you can trace that directly to these photos. That’s a big deal, and worth raising with higher-ups.

    If, on the other hand, you think they probably know and have chosen not to address it, I’m not sure I’d waste my time chasing it in your shoes. You’re still new here, you’re pretty junior, and Elizabeth is your manager. That doesn’t give you a ton of capital to work with, if everyone else has already decided to treat this as a Weird Elizabeth Thing That We’re Not Going To Address. If you decide to raise it anyways, be doubly sure to focus on the impact to customer relations and the concrete business losses that you’ve seen resulting from it. The more documentation you have that this is a serious problem, the more likely it becomes that your higher-ups will reevaluate their approach to the situation.

  52. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    ELIZABETH IS A METAMORPHAGUS! Like Tonks. The photos capture her true (changing) self. Truth!!

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