Thursday, November 18, 2010

Women with no makeup (oh the horror)

This image has been making the rounds in the blogosphere (not to mention getting comments on Reddit, which Jezebel then picked up).  If you  have a daughter, show her these pictures.  These are famous, gorgeous models, with Laetitia Casta leading off the line up on top left.


The geeks on Reddit, of course, abused every single one  of  these pictures, calling the girls unattractive or worse.  Jezebel declared every single one of these pictures beautiful and every single one of the Reddit commenters a shauvinist. 

But the reality is just that these women are not ugly and not beautiful, they are just real un-airbrushed women with no makeup, taking a mugshot.  These are your driver license photos.  Your snapshots in a dimly lit room taken with a bad camera by a person who doesn't care.  We have all taken pictures like this.

When I was younger, I had professional photographs done for my birthday or some other occasion.  I can't remember the occasion, but it was an eye-opening experience.  The amount of makeup, lighting, setup, hair prep and direction was astounding.  (I got to the set wearing what I thought was a lot of makeup, only to have it taken off, be told that I should have worn some makeup, and then have about 5 pounds of it piled on).  Those pictures of me were gorgeous. The girl in them was stunning.  Except that I have never looked like that girl in real life, and I never will.  The girl in those pictures does not really exist.

Neither do the girls in photos you see in Vicky's Secret, or makeup and perfume ads.  Models are not very beautiful women.  Models are women who have bodies like hangers (tall and slim), making the clothes hang well, and who have faces that serve as good blanks for makeup (your features can't be too prominent; the face must be somewhat plain because then you can easily change it by changing the shadowing).  Really, that's all.  With the right makeup, the right lighting and the right angle, you can draw anything you want on that face.  You can make it look amazingly gorgeous.  You can then retouch that picture to make the beauty otherwordly.  And, published in every magazine across the land, it will tell every girl that she is ugly because she will never look like that.  Believe me, the model who took that very picture will never look like that either.

If you have kids, please talk to them.  Take your daughter to a modeling shoot when she is old enough, and watch her initial excitement draw down after hours and hours of hair, makeup and prep.  Have her see the drastic difference between the final product and her own reflection.  Explain to her that pictures lie.  Have your children play with Photoshop.  Get your son to know that girls in glossy pictures are no more real than Lara Croft.  It's ok to stare at those pictures for their beauty - as long as you keep in mind that they are nothing more than a Photoshop file.

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