A couple of weeks ago, the TwitterFaces of the Internets were all up in arms about the supposed release of a photo of Cindy Crawford that was “unretouched.”
(I’m putting the link here, but FYI, most of these photos have inexplicably vanished from the interwebs….leading me to think JUST MAYBE their release was lead by a disgruntled photographer who couldn’t get Cindy’s phone number. But if the picture at the link is gone, just Google “Cindy Crawford Photoshop” and it’ll likely come up. It’s the one with the black hat and boa.)
The word on the street at the time was that Marie Claire was publishing their April 2015 issue with all un-Photoshopped images – celebrities in their natural, unretouched glory! – and THIS was a sneak peek.
And as the picture took off across the World Wide Web at the speed of gossip and lost workplace productivity, the women of the internet cheered and rejoiced! She looks even MORE beautiful here! Finally, a REAL-looking woman! Huzzah, she has sagging skin and cellulite, just like me!
Well, first off, the alleged au naturel mag isn’t going to print. Marie Claire tells us that, while this IS Cindy Crawford, this is from an old (12/2013) shoot and not a preview of what’s to come. So if you were looking forward to celebrity close-ups of cellulite, loose skin, and plastic surgery scars, you’re stuck trolling Pinterest. Sorry.
Incidentally, did you know there are SCADS of Pinterest pages DEDICATED in one way or another to exposing really bad pictures of famous people? Models without makeup, before/after Photoshop… What the heck is wrong with us? There’s a slightly bitter irony to the fact that we sell, and buy, fictional perfection – we pour obscene gobs of money into magazines, fashion, makeup, fitness clubs, diet food, and plastic surgery – but then seek out, and sometimes TAKE DELIGHT IN, discovering and exposing every flaw on those we seek to emulate.
Initially, this victory feels about as triumphant as discovering there is no Santa Claus. Do you remember that feeling? For a moment, you felt pretty smart – you busted the Christmas Code, dude! Ha ha, “Santa,” I MEAN MOM, caught you! – but once the “I’m a genius” vibe wore off…wasn’t the world a little less…magical? Wasn’t it really more fun to be able to pretend? Victory and discovery are a brief, but bittersweet, payout that is quickly cashed and spent.
The big difference here, though, is that with this whole Photoshop/supermodel/perfection-in-a-two-piece thing, we go back to believing in Santa Claus.
I don’t know how that’s even possible – but we do.
I’ll prove it to you. Let’s take a quick poll: Once you saw unaltered Cindy, how many of you took down those motivational pictures of Famous Perfect Body in Tiny Bikini from your fridge and replaced them with the “real” Cindy Crawford? How many of you said, “Once I look like THAT, I’ve achieved PERFECTION and I HAVE ARRIVED!”
Anyone? Anyone? <cough>
Okay then. How many of you are still using a more traditional thinspiration picture for motivation? Whether it’s hanging on your fridge, hiding on your phone, or carried around in your head….how many of you still are shooting for something closer to the Sports Illustrated cover look as the place where you’ll feel like you’ve met your goals?
WHOOSH <rush of wind from massive hand wave>
<gavel bangs> I rest my case.
So when this Cindy Crawford photo hit my Facebook page…I have to confess that the very first thing I did was compare myself to her. Oh, let’s be clear, I joined my peers in the general Grrl Power cries of “she looks awesome!” and “You GO Girl!”
But while I was SAYING that, I was looking hard at the “real” picture…and at myself. To see if I could measure up.
Granted, I’m certainly a lot closer to THIS version of beauty than I am to the ones you see in Vogue, Elle, or Self. I’m not THERE, but maybe, if I run five times a week AND add in yoga twice a week AND STOP BUYING THIS STUPID @#$@%#%@ KETTLE CORN THAT I CANNOT STOP EATING (curse you, Costco, and your ginormous addictive feed bags of crunchy deliciousness) – maybe, just MAYBE, I could look like a supermodel. Well, like ONE supermodel. Who happens to be almost fifty. But a SUPERMODEL. This is ATTAINABLE! Sorta!
And then the next day I got up to run, and I sized myself up as I worked my way into my running tights. Bulge above the waistband. Check. Back fat. Yep, still here. Thighs touch at the top. Boo. Bad. All bad. Saggy, baggy, and way too big all over. Sigh.
Which leads me to ask the question: Was I joining Team She Looks Awesome because I really thought she looked great?
Truth: sadly, I wasn’t.
I mean, she DOES look good – certainly far better than most of the nearly-fifty set. But if I’m completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I won’t be happy with MY body until it looks like the ideal that’s been welded into my brain for most of my life – and I was vocal about Cindy’s “natural” look out of…well…
I’m sympathetic because she’s human, just like I am. Because her body is on display to the world with absolutely no filter. Because the internet never forgets. Because she has to harden herself to the comments of public opinion, in addition to the critical voices she may have in her own head.
Because while I can’t be kind to myself, I’d hope others would be kind when I inadvertently expose the flabby bits and rough edges. I’d want others to be supportive and uplifting. And that’s what I tried to be.
(Hmm. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not a supermodel. Although I don’t think there is any critical comment the public can make about my body that could out-shout the berating I deal out to the mirror daily.)
I’d love to live in a world where, when Facebook puts one of those pictures in my path like “NEW Beach Pic of Celebrity Cellulite – You Won’t BELIEVE Who This Is!” – that it won’t matter. It won’t matter because I am healthy and strong. It won’t matter because perfection just isn’t, well, HUMAN. It won’t matter because the sizes and shapes of Kim, Scarlett, and Jessica have nothing to do with me.
Actually, I’d like to live in a world where this isn’t news at all.
And while I’m trying to get there, can you ask Santa to bring me new red-patent platforms? Seems it’s a lot harder to get where I want to be without shoes to click together and wish with. But for now, I still believe.