I saw this article on shine.yahoo.com this morning and felt compelled to write a little something about body image.
We all know that airbrushing is rampant in the media. Every picture we see is touched up to the point where the men and women in them look more like marble statues than human beings. Flawless complexions, ridiculously trimmed bodies with well-defined six-packs, perfect lighting and not an ounce of cellulite to be seen; these pictures set an impossibly high bar for what we should view as beautiful.
I had listened to a podcast recently by the lovely ladies of Stuff Mom Never Told You at howstuffworks.com a few weeks ago regarding this very subject called “Does airbrushing damage body image”. They reported that on the whole airbrushing doesn’t affect our mentality regarding our bodies, because we know that every picture we view in the media is altered; that even young children know this to be a fact and therefore we don’t let it take a toll on how we view ourselves. I am sure that in some ways that is a true statement, but I will put it to you that if every picture told you just how much it had been manipulated you would be shocked at the results and that the beauty industry would be forced to finally make sweeping changes in how it sells beauty.
According to the article “From left to right we have Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, plus-size model Crystal Renn, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl Brooklyn Decker.” Just take a look at these women. How in the hell is Crystal Renn, who is a size 12, referred to as a plus size model? Even the author of the article has a bone to pick with that label. And though, Miss Ambrosio does have visible muscle tone and definition she looks completely emaciated standing next to Miss Renn and Miss Decker. In all of the pictures in those Victoria’s Secret catalogs I receive at home, yes I admit I do buy their products from time to time, she has always looked so healthy, even if a bit on the skinny side. Here is a photo on the sun.com for a comparison. In this photo, however, I just want to feed her. As for the other two ladies, they look amazing, but I guarantee you that they will be slimmed down in the photos for the magazine. Why? They look great. If this photo was the one that was used instead of the overly airbrushed non-sense that I assure you will be chosen women would be shocked by the fashion industries definition of beauty.
Here is the deal I am not knocking Miss Ambrosio. I am sure that she maintains a vigorous exercise schedule and possibly even has a personal nutritionist that counts her every calorie. I am not implying that she does not eat or has an eating disorder. I am saying that in comparison with the other two ladies in the picture, no credit was attributed on the article and I am not intending any copyright infringement btw, she looks almost fragile.
What would happen if the pictures of models that are used to get us to buy clothing, cars and other goods weren’t retouched in any way? What if we saw every rib bone protrusion, every skeletal shoulder-blade and jutting hip bone? Would we still find that beautiful? Would we still buy those products? I certainly wouldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong ladies, I have gone a-retouching every once in a while on personal photos, but usually the maximum amount of touch up is a pimple removal with the old magic wand and possibly a contrast or color bump to fix the overall “look” of a photo. I haven’t ever gone in and taken inches off of my waist, or my arms, or legs, no matter how much I would love to some days, because then it wouldn’t be a picture of me anymore. I’d have a beautiful picture of a flawless person, who doesn’t exist. What would be the point of having that photo?
My point, yes I do have one, is that until we stop allowing the media and fashion industry to lie to us, we will not grow past this mad obsession with being flawless and until we stop pursuing that impossible goal we won’t be able to truly accept ourselves for who we really are, imperfections and all. How do you like that run on sentence? Pretty cringe-worthy huh?
My fitness goal is to get healthy, not to get skinny. I want to be able to live a long and independent life even if it comes with a little cellulite on my thighs. I can accept that I won’t ever look like that model on the cover of Maxim and take comfort in the fact that the model doesn’t either. Lets get comfortable with us first and if that means that you need to cut the cheesecake out of your diet and pick up a dumbbell instead, so be it, but if it means that you need to stop the obsessive calorie counting and dieting, do it. Come on ladies. Its time to get healthy and stop letting these imaginary people set us up for failure! Who’s with me?
If you want to get an idea of how much Photoshop is carried out on celebrity photos check out this page at theberry.com.