Close encounters of the imperfect kind.
So, hot on the heels of the recent pictures of Cindy Crawford sans natural, we now have un-retouched photos of Beyonce hitting the internet. Whenever an actress or model is revealed as being flawed in some way, I find the reaction that follows to be a very strange and funny phenomenon.
So much pressure to be flawless.
Well, really it’s no news to any of us that every and I mean EVERY photo we see in a fashion magazine, the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar etc. is going to be altered. Now, personally I absolutely detest the level of photoshopping that reduces the size of a woman’s figure so dramatically or changes her face so much so she looks like a caricature of herself. Thighs slimmed down, every wrinkle of expression erased, eye shapes changed, the skin is perfected to unreal limits. But even so, despite my displeasure, I don’t necessarily want everything I see to look glaringly real either.
Life has more than enough reality.
Perhaps the reason why I buy fashion magazines is different from others. I love fashion, but I am not a fashionista, not at all. Why then? I cannot resist. I adore a beautiful fashion shoot, I love photography, the imagery, the styling, the creativity, the sheer fantasy. I don’t want or need to see the reality behind the image. In fact, spending a few hours in a cafe with a stack of beautiful fashion magazines is for me, a delightful way to suspend reality, even if only momentarily and perhaps elevate my own ambition just a little. I can admire the beauty and the imagery and as long as the retouch is not ridiculous, I really don’t care if the images are not firmly planted in reality.
What does it say about us?
So much is made of the retouch of a beautiful celebrity. Why? I know, it’s a big question. But, with all this fuss about retouched, un-retouched and the revelations that, OMG they (celebrities) have imperfections, or even more shocking, they are just as human as the rest of us!! Why shouldn’t the photos be improved, if you and I were constantly seeing images of ourselves as Beyonce or Cindy Crawford no doubt have, how hard would it be to feel completely secure? Perhaps, even impossible. Right?
They know they are being scrutinised by the rest of us. Who wouldn’t want a bit of photoshopping? I certainly would. As a society, we revere and adore beauty and yet, we seem to delight in seeing these beauties with their flaws revealed. Is it to make us feel better about ourselves? Does it validate our own insecurities? Perhaps it just provides us with a small comfort? It reassures us we are not so alone with our flaws and imperfections.
Beyonce’s skin revealed.
Flawless skin? In reality, it’s hardly ever true. So in the un-retouched images, Beyonce looks, well, normal. Her skin type would be oily with a moderate texture which would lead to congestion just below the surface of her skin. With the amount of makeup Beyonce is wearing in the image on the right, her skin conditions are being exaggerated, it’s no surprise her skin looks a bit clogged and even a little dehydrated. On the other hand, the image on the left shows a bare-faced Beyonce with what appears to be flawless skin. Either way, Beyonce looks fantastic and is a beautiful woman. Flawless or not.
Beyonce’s will probably age well, although I think she loves the sun, so even with her dark features, she will still be prone to premature wrinkling without good sun protection. AHA’s like glycolic acid, mandelic acid or lactic acid would be a perfect regular addition to her skincare regimen. If you want to read much more about these treatments you may want to check out my peel series.
Then there is the ageing beauty.
Both Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling have recently been signed and now launched Ad campaigns for big international beauty companies. Helen Mirren for L’oreal and Charlotte for NARS. Both are said to have insisted no photography is to be retouched. Well, I suspect there will still be some enhancement, even if it’s just clever lighting and photography.
It would be ridiculous for either company to produce images of these glorious women without their wrinkles. After all, these beauty brands want to attract the older, independent women not insult her intelligence. She has been their customer (especially L’oreal) since she was young and the older woman is now a lucrative customer. Successful, powerful and in many cases prosperous and is not in any mood to be silenced or made to feel invisible.
We want to see Helen Mirren at 69, looking naturally fabulous. Will the cream she is using make any of us naturally more fabulous? Well, actually. No. But, we all know this, don’t we?
She just is fabulous, a great actress who cares about who she is. She has nurtured a great attitude. It goes a long way and as much as I advocate good skincare, nothing keeps you looking younger than a great attitude.
Have we really changed that much?
If Hollywood actress of the 1920s & ’30s like Joan Crawford were alive today, what she may object to more than her images being retouched, could be the way, in the 21st century, some in the media are happy to reveal and leak images while the rest of us look on, with some weird satisfaction. Nothing satisfying about any of it. For the star whose imperfections have been revealed, it’s probably quite humiliating and for those who take delight in the revelations? The satisfaction that these beauties do not have the flawless skin or perfect bodies that we would be led to believe is fleeting.
Unless we can accept ourselves, be ourselves, revel in our own perfectly flawed and glorious selves then nothing is gained. Is it?
Are we making any progress?
In Joan Crawford’s day, a woman featured in any kind of skincare advertisement at the ripe old age of 69 would have been unheard of! Celebrity or not. So I guess, a small step for women has been taken.
Who knows perhaps one day, like Helen Mirren, it will be Beyonce embracing her age. But for now, Beyonce is just being Queen Bey! She delights millions, imperfections and all, isn’t that enough?
And now you?
What do you think? Should celebrities show us all their flaws, or like me do you like suspending reality, just a bit? Share your views and leave a comment below.
See you next time,
Featured Image Photo credit: Peter Lindbergh 90s Supermodels.