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Madonna: armed and controversial

July 29, 2009 |  1:54 pm


In the continuing saga that is Madonna's biceps, a photo surfaced recently making the singer, currently on tour, look like she's been seriously pumping iron -- and maybe some lead bricks and cement blocks, too. Her arms look so cut you could use them to teach a class on muscle composition.

The Mirror posted the photo with the headline: "A shock lesson in anatomy as super skinny Madonna reveals her protruding muscles and bulging veins." This isn't the first time a woman's cut, powerful arms have stirred up controversy, since muscular female upper bodies are a contentious issue, as we've explored before. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has been criticized and lauded for her strong physique.

But should you believe every photo you see? Madonna's rep told the website Gossip Cop, "Madonna's arms in the most recent photos have absolutely been altered by Photoshop or some other means. Her arms do not look like that in real life." And in fact, other photos taken lately show her arms looking toned, but not like pieces of raw sinew.

So in this instance, is it real, or is it digitally altered? That's the question many people are asking these days as Photoshop becomes increasingly embedded in our culture. It's safe to say that every magazine cover and advertisement has had some encounter with the go-to computer graphics program.

Is that such a bad thing? Yes, say those who believe that Photoshop can create unrealistic and unattainable images. No, say those who think Photoshop is necessary to present aesthetically pleasing photos to the world.

More on the Photoshop debate can be found in this Sunday's Image section.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Kyrre Lien / EPA