Select Page

The conspiracy theorists of the Washington Free Beacon took their thumbs out of their asses yesterday to type up a new and astonishing idea: 78-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders might be using Botox to smooth out his fine lines. Spoiler alert: it’s not injectables, it’s goddamn lamps.

The Beacon writes:

The curmudgeonly 78-year-old socialist, who has yet to explain whether cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections would be covered under his ambitious Medicare for All proposal, was unusually wrinkle-free in the forehead area on Wednesday night.

One must only assume that the offices of the Washington Free Beacon have never experienced electric lighting before, or the warmth of the sun, as this phenomenon is easily explained by how light fucking works.

How Light Fucking Works is a strange subject for a reporter to misunderstand in an age where digital photography is more ubiquitous than ever, but I’ve prepared this handy explainer for those who are unfamiliar. Top-down lighting is almost always the least flattering of lighting choices. It manages to add 10 years to pretty much everyone by casting shadows that make eye bags, double chins, and wrinkles look more prominent, as illustrated by this diagram:

Overhead lighting.
Illustration: Eleanor Fye / Gizmodo

As a light hits an object (like a building, a truck, a tree, or a flap of skin) the light must cast a shadow, unless another light source is there to fill in that shadow.

As we can see from the photo on left, Bernie’s strongest light is directly above him, making his bald head really shiny and casting strong shadows from his glasses. His undereye bags look prominent, and dude looks like he hasn’t slept in like eight years.

Compare this with the lighting from the debate, which was coming from many different angles, and certainly combined with ultra-thick TV makeup that reduces the appearance of all the candidates’ bags and jowls. In the debate photo, the shadow from Bernie’s glasses are closer to his eyes, and his under-eye bags aren’t as pronounced:

Below is an additional diagram:

Multiple-source lighting.
Illustration: Illustration: Eleanor Fye / Gizmodo

In this diagram, the subject is being lit from multiple angles, reducing the appearance of shadows, wrinkles, and bags.

This is really basic stuff that even Instagram influencers know. There are many, many ways to light a person in a flattering way, but generally, overhead lighting is not one of them. It’s why ring lights are so popular (they evenly distribute light without having to set up multiple lamps) and why everyone looks like a frightening old hag in your office bathrooms that have ceiling fluorescents.

If my diagrams were not to your liking, or you are still confused, this hypnotizing YouTube video should do the trick:

TLDR: no, Bernie is not doing Botox. It’s a bunch of lamps and makeup.

Read More