Now, look, obviously no one wants to end up like Filippa Hamilton in that Ralph Lauren advertisement. Or, God Forbid, like the inhuman caricatures in the Sex and the City 2 poster. That’s because no one wants to be airbrushed badly. In much the same way no one wants to be on the cover of a magazine with make-up applied that makes them look like Bozo the Clown. I’m less inclined to view those advertisements as “airbrushing is evil” than “the people who did those particular airbrushing jobs should be fired.”
But normal, well done airbrushing? Something that hikes my cleavage up a bit without me having to wear an awkward push-up bra? Or gives me a subtle dewy glow without me having to go get a spray on tan? Fuck yeah, airbrushing. Fuck yeah. As far I’m concerned, all that would really do is make it slightly less likely that celebrities would freak out about having a pimple and a touch of cellulite on the day of their shoot.
Okay, I realize that’s not embracing natural female beauty, but magazine covers are not about embracing completely natural, untouched female beauty. They’re about selling a fantasy that will make people buy the magazine. Maybe, socially, we SHOULD be at a place where we want to just see normal, beautiful women on the cover of Vogue, but those covers don’t seem to poll nearly as well as the super-glamorous ones. That’s why they dress Nicole Kidman up in a ballgown and give her the best hair and make-up people in the world and have the entire scene lit and then have Annie Leibowitz photograph everything. This is not realism. This is fantasy. In her normal life, Nicole Kidman just likes to hang out in sweatpants and eat human placenta, okay?
And honestly, taking that into consideration, why is airbrushing singled out as being that one thing that magazines do that’s destroying women’s self esteem? Aren’t we – as a rule, as the grown up women who are supposed to be buying these magazines – smart enough to realize that the way stars look in these pictures is perhaps not quite the way they look when they wake up in morning? Surey, given the number of sites devoted to covering every single instance of airbrushing in the media, we’re all pretty familiar with it.
And watching brands and models talk about how good they are because they don’t airbrush – well, it seems just as gimmicky as everything else. And when I hear them talk about how they’re “tackling the overall problem of body image that customers are facing” when still dealing with incredibly gorgeous, perfectly lit, styled, made up models, well, I kind of vomit a little bit in my mouth.
I say, instead of adopting this whole saintly “no, we never airbrush” attitude, designers go completely the opposite direction and airbrush models into superhuman monsters/demigods so that everyone just automatically assumes they’re fake. A fine example is this picture of Napoleon on a cartoon dinosaur. More like that, Vogue, more like that.