If even Cindy Crawford laments the fact that she doesn’t look as good as the Cindy Crawford represented in the media, then why should the rest of us feel guilty that we don’t look like the celebrities in the glossy magazines staring back at us in the grocery checkout when we’re buying our Oreos and Huggees?
There has been a lot of discussion about the negative influence that the “thin culture” of celebrity has on women and young girls, but there has not been as much discussion about the fact that even the fantasy is a fantasy. Women and young girls around the country are berating themselves for not being as thin as or not looking as beautiful as these actresses and models – not realizing that not even the actresses and models themselves look like they do in these pictures.
Sure, we’ve all probably dabbled in some harmless Photoshop improvements, such as adjusting the lighting or maybe even zapping out a pimple or a mole. But celebrity airbrushing goes to much greater lengths, often cleaning up wrinkles, age spots, flab, and other imperfections. Check out this shot of Tyra Banks:
Her skin looks much fresher and younger in the retouched version, and her features look more defined.
Even more egregious is when re-touching makes celebrities appear to be thinner than what they already are – which is often thinner than the average woman – making a new standard from one that is already unreachable by many woman (including, clearly, many celebrities). Check out these photos of Kelly Clarkson and Jessica Alba, retouched to make them appear thinner:
Both “before” photos showed fit and healthy women in a desirable weight range. The smaller images do not look more attractive or more virtuous. Who does it benefit to promote increasingly thinner images of “ideal” beauty?
Occasionally, celebrity gossip magazines like to run features showing off the flaws of celebrities as they are caught out and about living their regular lives. Beach shots are a favorite.
Here is Hilary Swank, as she is out jogging:
Swank is well-known for her healthy image. Even in this picture, you can see how thin her legs are and how muscular they are. If she has cellulite, does it mean that she is any less healthy or fit or desirable?
Here is Jennifer Love-Hewitt at the beach:
Love-Hewitt is still a healthy and thin size. Faulting her for cellulite is as nonsensical as faulting her for pale skin or freckles.
Women should view these photos as evidence not only that celebrity women have just as much difficulty training to maintain this ideal of perfection, but also that – in many cases – they aren’t able to live up to it. We should take this as a sign that we need to use our collective power to send a message that this type of imagery is not OK: Stop buying these magazines, stop buying expensive beauty treatments, stop fueling the damaging diet industry. The ideal wasn’t always what it is today: Change happens slowly, and women should act to effect change in a way that benefits us all rather than continues to set unrealistic and unattainable standards.
About the Author:
Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching community college student loans as well as scholarships for creative writing students. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.