The recent youtube videos showing step-by-step the extensive editing done by the world of high-fashion has started an outrage from those whose self-esteem is shaken by comparing themselves to the plastic-y bodies in the magazines and catalogs, and so many people are acting like this type of manipulation is new. Here is the truth about image editing and photography, in plain U.S. English. I hope it helps to clear up the issue.
Since photography began, negatives and prints have been manipulated for a variety of reasons, propaganda, blackmail, or simply to fit an artistic vision - many photographers are artists after all. So if you think Photoshop is the reason images are edited, you are plain wrong. Pencils were used to re-touch negatives, sandpaper and paper-clips were used to draw in things that weren't truly there, dodging and burning was normal, even cutting negatives apart and re-compiling them into new images was considered part of the job. Editing is not new, it has evolved alongside photography. When I look at a photo today, I can tell if, and how, it was edited - the digital world has given such a false look to photographs I find it rather boring. A re-touched negative, however, looks completely real, and most people never know it was edited at all. Digital has not surpassed film yet, period, end of story. If you DID NOT know that almost every image in every magazine and catalog has been edited past the point of recognition since the dawn of magazines, you have been fooled.
This editing of photos is not "wrong", it is simply someone wishing to create something that does not exist. THAT is called "art", and art has been going on longer than photography. It's a staple of the human endeavor. However, PHOTOGRAPHY is, literally "charting light", that's it, nothing more, period, end of story! The light that is captured by your film or digital sensor is the ONLY thing that comprises your photo - any edits done to that original light capture reaches into the realm of art.
So, although editing of photographs is nothing new, an edited photograph ceases to be a true photograph. It may still be art, but it is no longer a record of light, which is what a photograph is, by definition. After you process an image in any digital program - including your camera's JPG conversion - it becomes a piece of digital art.
The words we use, and terminology humans have agreed on, often provide the most concise answers to the debates of the common web-lurker, and this is no exception. Digital art and photography often intersect, they do offer photography classes in most art programs. Photography is, after all, an art. Any tool or method of creating art is correct, so long as it is successful for the artist using it. It's not wrong to manipulate a negative or edit an image, it's wrong to call it a photograph once you're done. If you build a boat from old truck parts you stop calling it a truck and start calling it a boat.