Oops, They Did it Again

It’s been quite a year for airbrush backlash. Just last February, raw photos of Madonna were “leaked” (I parenthesize because I can’t believe Madonna had nothing to do with their surfacing) and Monica Belucci appeared sans fards on the cover of French Elle. Then Talk left Claudia Schiffer untouched and, just this month, Marie Claire let Jessica Simpson go bare-faced (I have to admit she looks smashing). And then there was Kim “Not a Celebrity” Kardashian and Sarah “Look, There’s Russia” Palin, and so on and so on.

Now, Britney Spears has given her blessing for pre-shop photos from her new Candies campaign to appear next to their post-production counterparts, ostensibly to expose the illusion of modern image enhancement.

While, in theory, I applaud the idea of wanting to show some semblance of reality, people also need to realize these women are hardly common specimens. Seeing Monica Bellucci without foundation is hardly like looking in a mirror (for me, at least), and I’d venture to say Madonna is not representative of most 50 year old women. These women are blessed with great genes and an army of trainers and aestheticians. I should hope they look nice without makeup.

But even more importantly (and as our editor so rightly pointed out) why is no one questioning the fact that “professional” photography has gotten to the point where it cannot stand without extensive post production? So many of these “before” pictures are JUST BAD CRAFT. If our Brit didn’t have a single spot of cellulite, three bruises and a camel toe (funny how they didn’t highlight that), this would still be a TERRIBLE PICTURE. It’s like everyone’s just stopped trying because they know they can fix it later.

Finally (am I a fashion conspiracist?) in the copy that accompanies this latest, Britney is quoted as saying, “My favorite set-up was against the gigantic wall of pink cotton candy.”

Really? Because it seems that wall only appears after the shots have been retouched.

g.

8 thoughts on “Oops, They Did it Again

  1. Heh – I did not mean to say “parentheses” in reference to quotes. I CLEARLY NEED A COPY EDITOR AT ALL TIMES.
    But at least I’m preemptive in my admission of error…
    x.g.

  2. It seems that un-airbrushed pictures are only ok if they are in a certain context – i.e., a promotion stunt surrounded by announcements going “HEY GUYS LOOK HOW AWESOME WE ARE NO AIRBRUSHING YEAH?!?” see also: any magazine who has had to announce the fact that they have featured plus sized models.
    I dream of an age where advertisers don’t pat themselves on the back for taking a few wrinkles out of an already gorgeous woman.

  3. What’s with the intense airbrushing on the knees?

    When I look at super-doctored photos, all I can ever think about is how the knee is made to be completely flat, and ostensibly useless. In the first picture it looks like Brit has a knee cap that has you know, dimension, casts a shadow (all the fun things that happen in real life). In the second picture, she has a flat leg with some greyish lines.

  4. Yes, dimensions ARE fun! I totally swear by them. The OTHER thing that totally bugs me about this is the whole “if she doesn’t look good enough in a trampy bathing suit, why don’t we PUT SOME CLOTHES ON HER” thing.

    I always have this discussion about the Tyranny of No Corsets. It’s like as soon as women were ‘released’ from the bondage of girdles and corsets, they were suddenly expected to look as perfect as they did when they had 7 layers of elastane holding them in – you know, but without any help. You’ve gotta ask yourself, which is worse?

    So now, instead of putting women (and men, because don’t kid yourself) in clothes that are actually well tailored and flattering and – gasp – age appropriate, they squeeze them into things that only a fifteen year old competetive swimmer could wear… and shop the hell out of it to make it seem that this would somehow be possible or flattering… leaving the rest of us to wonder why it is we don’t look smashing in an unlined burnout jersey minidress at 55. IT’S ABSURD.

    Yeesh. All this indignance is exhausting.

  5. I always find it interesting when I see a picture that is so obviously “not real”. The funny part is that sometimes they get so into it that they end up making the person look completely deformed. Like this picture here from a Brazilian magazine cover http://peregrinomutante.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/vj250509.jpg – notice that the girl’s legs don’t even seem to be attached to her body at all!
    It reminds me of that quote by Lewis Hine “while photographs may not lie, liers may photograph”.

  6. i find these conversations quite confusing because… photos have often been the land of reality and of fantasy. there is photo journalism, there are candid untouched shots, and then there are more engineered beauty shots. i’m sure there are other categories but that is enough for my point i hope. even if beauty shots are not retouched, they are photos! and lighting is the strongest most metamorphising magic there is {sorry for misuse of language there}. not only can you highlight people’s beauty with light, you can hide “flaws”. and then there is editing, where the “best” of these well lit photos are chosen to share. so even without airbrushing then photoshop you have manipulation. so i guess these questions are all about the degrees of manipulation? and creating unattainable standards. it’s just that we have always been doing that. everything is manipulated.

    i like that these before and after photos are posted. i think it’s really interesting to see. and i would definitely like to see people experimenting with more realistic imagery, and i think they do. there will always be this other world of “perfect” beauty though. i can’t imagine we would stop doing this.

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