Unretouched Photos: Empowering or Just More ‘Empower-tainment’?

Recently, there have been a few high-profile examples of magazines publishing images of “real” women: plus-sized models, or celebrities free of makeup and/or Photoshop. The ensuing publicity can make it feel that we’ve won body image victories–but let’s look closer at these images to find out how much we should really be celebrating.

February 2009: Love Magazine‘s first magazine cover features a nude Beth Ditto.

April 2009: French Elle’s no make-up edition features eight European models without make-up or digital touch ups.

September 2009: Glamour Magazine features “the woman on p.194” with a belly roll (and a smile).

January 2010: V Magazine‘s plus-size model spread, clothed and nude.

February 2010: Australian Marie Claire puts Miss Universe 2004, Jennifer Hawkins, on the cover nude and unaltered. A cover signed by Hawkins was auctioned on eBay, with proceeds donated to Australian eating-disorder support group The Butterfly Foundation.

March 2010: Tara Lynn graces the cover and the pages of French Elle’s “curvy girl” issue.

April 2010: French Marie Claire releases a non-airbrushed issue.

Just last week: Britney Spears releases unretouched photos alongside  the altered images for her new Candies campaign.

A few days later, Kim Kardashian releases nude photos for the May 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar sans digital alteration (and felt so empowered that she tweeted about it).

I’ll admit that I’ve gotten excited about more than a few of these body-image events, and looking at this list it would appear that there’s some real positive change occurring. But after news of Kate Hudson’s alleged breast enhancement made headlines less than 48 hours after Britney Spears released her unretouched photos, I had to ask, Do these efforts matter? Can these images combat the images below?

Yes, unadulterated images matter, but their impact is diluted by the millions of adulterated ones. As consumers we are exposed [PDF] to hundreds of advertisements per day that overwhelmingly feature unnaturally (or genetically predisposed) thin women who have been further retouched. Waists are made smaller, torsos and legs are elongated and thinned, thighs smoothed and  armpits all-but-disappeared.

In this context, the occasional plus-size model appears deeply incongruous: a spectacle, not a part of a spectrum.

In the cases of Spears and Kardashian, featuring striking women without airbrushing isn’t exactly revolutionary–and some speculate whether these images are actually all they claim to be. Kardashian’s body, at least, comes pre-altered by cellulite removal. These photographs set a new unattainable standard, this one for “real” bodies. Plus, both Spears and Kardashian have  published countless altered photographs of themselves, and Kardashian hawks diet pills as a side job.

Without an authentic and consistent message of  beauty empowerment in all its diversity, these attempts feel like gimmicks, or what Samantha Moore of Gender Across Borders calls “empower-tainment“:

It’s going to take more than a celebrity proclamation that my “unique” qualities are beautiful, despite what popular media—and the male gaze driving it—say. Because beauty standards are socially constructed, redefining what “beauty” means is a hairy, multifaceted venture that must consider entrenched social forces. Powerful influences such as patriarchy, historical context, consumerism, and media are embedded in the fabric of almost every society. While boosting women’s self-confidence is peachy, it cannot be a successful driver of social change. What we really need to contest is the beauty myth—the illusion that female beauty standards are natural, inevitable, and backed by some concrete “truth” about optimum femininity.

Images that fall outside the limiting standard can’t produce change when millions of taken-for-granted images constantly cultivate our expectations and solidify the standard. Publishing unadulterated images every so often, with great fanfare, does not successfully challenge the normative Eurocentric image of ideal beauty, which includes vast amounts of alteration. Rather than promoting real change and creating a critical dialogue that explores the creation and maintenance of unrealistic, confining and, often, dangerous images of beauty, the announcement of these unaltered photos can easily become a spectacle designed for publicity and ratings.

TOP:Tara Lynn in “curvy girl” issue of French Elle. BOTTOM: Collages by Nasser Samara.

Comments

  1. Susan Duganne
    WS 01 – Online Participation #3
    Unretouched Photos: Empowering or Just More ‘Empower-tainment’
    http://bit.ly/bJ7739
    April 20, 2010 by Melanie Klein

    As far as I can see, nothing has changed. A few magazines use “Plus Size” women’s photos in a couple of their monthly issues as exampled below:

    Monday, 08/17/2009 12:15 PM

    On the C.L.: by Cindi Leive the Editor-in-Chief of Glamour magazine. Re: ‘The Picture You Can’t Stop Talking About: Meet “the Woman on p. 194″, 20-year-old model Lizzi Miller. It’s a photo that measures all of three by three inches in our September issue, but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit newsstands.’

    During the aforementioned, both Cindi & Lizzi appeared on the Today Show, interviewed by Matt Lauer, talking about why images like “the Woman on p. 194,” are startling but important. All the hoopla turned out to be for not. Ms Leive stated in that interview that because of the overwhelming popularity and positive feedback she received from women around the globe about Lizzi’s photo, Glamour would be utilizing plus-size models for future photo shoots, because Glamour listens to their subscribers.

    That was in September 2009, over two years ago, yet nothing has changed, just a few token plus-size photo spreads have appeared since. The majority of the photo spreads continue to feature ultra thin models with faces made-up to the hilt, and final photos completely retouched – there is nothing real about any of these shots. These women look completely emaciated. There is nothing pretty or sexy about them. And even if they were, aren’t all of us who buy Glamour, or others magazines like it, contributing to the advertisers/promoters vision of what is sexy and pretty thereby helping to perpetuate the continuum? And what happened to all those everyday women who voiced their opinion by letter/email/phone to Glamour, applauding the natural “real” woman photo? What happened to Ms Leive’s statement on the Today Show when she said ‘we listen to our reader’s, and in the future Glamour will continue to use women like Lizzi?’ What happened between that interview and now that no changes have been made? Who’s pulling the strings? And why do we, the reader’s, continue to support these magazines? Oh, and one other thought, aside from everything stated above, let’s not forget the ‘natural’ photo was taken in the buff as were many of the other shots taken of plus-size models. What exactly are these magazines suppose to be selling? Are these photos the new season’s spring or fall “fashions?”

  2. Willemina v. says:

    How can we then, as the “real” thing, reverse the normative Eurocentric image of ideal beauty? I am disturbed to even consider that the unadulterated images that have recently appeared in the media may have more to do with publicity and ratings than an actual step towards change. It takes a strong person to realize that the images we see in the media today are not real. These altered images are simply the media playing to our weaknesses and we know this … so why do we continue to give the media so much strength? We as individuals can make our own steps towards erasing the mythical norm by taking back the strength we have given up, not to mention the dollars we spend while doing so. My first step will be to completely accept myself by erasing the feelings of inferiorty that I am blasted with every time I encounter someone who I think is better than I am. Easier said than done, I am quite sure of that, but I have nothing to lose and plenty to gain by at least giving it a try.

  3. Kammira B says:

    I’m glad that there are these celebrities that can show us at least ONE picture of their imperfect body. But we rarely see this. There’s no shame in showing how you really look. We’re human and humans are NOT perfect. Why is it that the media wants people to believe there is such a thing like a “perfect” body? Every picture in magazines are some how altered and have been photoshop. There is no more NATURAL beauty in this society. And that’s a shame.

  4. Just because we see a few photos of real women’s bodies does not mean we are headed towards a change. First of all, how do we know that that was really an unretouche photo of Kim Kardashian? I deem that she looks “too perfect” for that photo to be unretouched. And who knows, maybe indeed these celebrities did that merely for publicity, to get attention or to gain more respect from people and their role models. In this world, everything is about making money so I highly doubt that media would post pictures of natural looking women only to do the “right thing” or to make “changes”, Media obviously know what sells and what brings a lot of attention. So indeed, at the end of the day it has to do with publicity. If it was to make changes, then we would have noticed it and seen more natural looking models in magazines. I am still waiting for that to happen.

  5. While the slowly increasing number of unaltered images gracing the covers of popular magazines is a step in the right direction, I agree with the author that it is drowned by a sea of altered images. I think we as consumers really need to speak with our wallets and show the media in general that we want to see all unaltered images. Its not fair for women to have to be compared to what a computer has generated someone to look like. It’s very unrealistic and I think it is one of the main reasons why eating disorders have become far more prevalent in the past few years.

  6. Camille Yona says:

    It is such a change to see such photos on the cover of magazines. In a way, I was shocked by the powerful images of unretouched and “natural” models. Still, I agree that exposing such images can be seen as a marketing campaign, in turn distorting their purpose. Kim tweeting about how she is “unretouched” in her nude photos in a way diminishes its significance as she seems to be bragging and missing the meaning behind it all. Finally, I believe that mainstream media should include much more of these images to the point that they become equally prevalent, if not more so, than images of super-thin, overly-retouched models. This way, our generation and future generations will be exposed to natural beauty instead of constantly creating an unrealistic expectation from the images they see in advertising and the media.

  7. Yesenia O says:

    Nowadays, we live in a society in which the purpose of all the magazines and the advertisements that they have in them is to sell, they want money! Therefore, they know that the only way they can do this is by exposing and altering the models they have and make them look extremely beautiful, with a perfect body, and a perfect face with no blemishes. However, this is not right because they are lying and creating a female that perhaps does not exist, therefore, when I saw this article, I was glad that womens natural beauty without no photoshop and no alterations was finally exposed. Women like these, in the images above, are the ones that exist, the ones that we normally see walking down the street because to me, their is no perfect women. We all have imperfection and something that we dont like about ourselves, and those who are perfect probably were created or made perfect. Seeing larger models, without make-up, and without spraying made me think that it is possible to have magazines like these, but magazine sellers know that if they have women like the ones above in the cover of heir magazine might not make them have the same success (financial gain) as having someone that is flawless and skinny because many women still today want to look like them.

  8. Gabriel Y. says:

    I agree with a comment above that stated “Just because we see a few photos of real women’s bodies does not mean we are headed towards a change.” This is a very powerful comment, because its true. Its true that it is an amazing thing that people are giving credit and putting out pictures of real and unretouched celebrities and models. But it is not going to change societies view of what an ‘ideal’ woman is, simply because for most women, it is too late to change that view. In some cases, these photos of real and unretouched celebrities and models might even cost them fans and make them gain haters. So it is not always going to turn things around on a positive note

  9. I don’t see anything wrong with these photos. I actually like them. They made me feel happier and more satisfied of my belief. Honestly, I always thought there was something wrong with me with not liking super skinny girls. I was told by many of my friends that it’s almost impossible to find someone who is a good looking girl and not have the super skinny body. Because the girl who cares about her face beautify, also cares about her body, in other words outer beauty.

  10. Guadalupe Y says:

    More magazines should be putting up more pics like these in their magazines because in reality this is how most women do look like.Although my only concern about one of the pics is of Kim Kardashian because im sure that, that pics had been altered quit a bit. Women shouldnt be ashamed of their bodies but instead EMBRACE and be PROUD of their bodies and for what they have.

  11. As nice as it is to see them embracing curvy woman or women with a little bit of a belly roll gracing the magazine covers it still does not make up for all the ads and front covers of all the touched up thin models and celebrities we are subjected to every day. I really do feel it is all for publicity putting a curvy woman on the front page of a main stream women magazine. I feel as if they are trying so hard to say “Look! We like curvy women too!” and then for what the other 11 months out of the year we have waif thin celebs and models on the cover and we are supposed to remember the one curvy model and feel good about ourselves? Who are they kidding? I honestly think if the magazines really want to start making a difference they need to start evaluating what kind of woman they show in these advertisement and ease up on the photo shopping.

  12. Jonteen R says:

    There’s no shame in showing how you really look. when looking at britneys untouched photo i thought she looked more normal than her retouched photo.The media just wants to make everyone believe that these celebrities are naturally perfect so that young girls can try to be like them. there is no such thing as being that perfect.

  13. I think this whole “unretouched photos” is just an act. Media is so advanced they need to think of new ways to attract consumers and money. All magazines have the airbrushed, flawless super model or celebrity on the front cover so why not try to “change” it up a little. Even though these photos claim to be the real deal, there is still work done to make them look natural. I don’t think women in society will ever truly understand or know what a “real” women looks like. We are bombarded with so many images it just turns into one big blur. It is hard to keep up with societal expectations even if images of “real” woman are portrayed.

  14. Lam Yan Yee says:

    I am glad that there are magazines started to show people the reality. Women do not look like what the cover models from the mainstream fashion magazines. This action can help to change the image of standard of ideal beauty. Women may not feel that stressful like before. I hope there will be more magazines start to follow them. It is really hard for women to have a ideal body shape. They have to do many things to keep it.

  15. Alexandria Scott says:

    As time passes, more and more people become aware of the unrealistic alterations magazines portray to our society. More than half of the photos in magazines portray the image of unnatural women. Those magazines that do contain photos of normal sized, over-sized, and non photo shopped images imply a more realistic view of what most of our society is like. Some magazines make fun of these women while others are just conveying the message that super models don’t display the image for a typical woman’s body. I think un retouched photos of women should be in more magazines which will decrease the percentage of women who are insecure because of all super models.

  16. It’s more empower-tainment for sure. These unaltered images simply show up once in a while. Hence, the positive change is momentary. As you write in the article, yes unadulterated images matter, but they’re diluted by all the adulterated ones. These undermine the reality of how much more altered images we are being exposed to. The adulterated images are a stable set of images. We’re constantly being put through the process of cultivation.

  17. JessicaE says:

    A few un-retouched photos published every year are a needle lost in a hay stack. Sure, they are popular and attract attention at first but once the hype dies down they get lost in an array of completely altered images that we are bombarded with each day. Yes, it is empowering to see images of real women on the covers of magazines and in spreads but what’s the point if the issue after, and the one after that will refer back to their electronic alterations. The real peak moment will be when a publication features ALL their photos un-retouched but that also makes me wonder if anyone would buy it? Are we so accustomed to these fake images of a woman’s body and continue purchasing the same magazines or would we want to see a magazine filled with women that look just like us? Would we feel inspired? Empowered? Or would we continue to buy the other glossies and gawk over the celebs and models we will never look like? I really hope one day a publication recognizes the importance of seeing real women and values it. That would truly be empowering.

  18. Mariela P says:

    Unaltered images and photographs have simply become a “fad” for ratings. We expect the media tostop the altering artist and models bodies in order to fit the criteria of “besuty” but the expectation is far from being met. The media has dedicated years and money into marketing and creating an unrealistic body image and now finds itself having to face the fact that this image they have created does not exist anywhere. Therefore telling soociety and women especially that they are not beutiful the way they naturally are. They to, must be altered in order to be beautiful. This blog describes several artist that have tried to fight the stereotype of beauty but have failed in doing sso. I personally cannot blame them. The scruitney the business puts on them is unberable. Yet many like Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian have chose to show their unretouched photos. In my perspective they did not choose to show their bodies unaltered because they want to fight the media’s image of what a women’s body should be but because they want to sell the ad. They want to be able to make a scandal of the situation. I cannot help bujt agree with Melanie that these artist have a long way to go if they hope to make a change. One scandalous unaltered picture brings more fame to the artist than the movement. our bodies are beutiful. They are all unique in various sizes, colors, and shapes. We cannot be expected to idolized and hope to be one specific way when we are all unique. We must embrace whome we are in the bodies we have.

  19. I think it is great that a lot of these famous faces have decided to come out and post unretouched photos of themselves. However, one must ask themselves is it really for the empowerment of women? Like the Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian photos if this was so empowering why then do they not take a stance from here on out and only do unretouched photos? What is it saying to the rest of us? The message I am getting here is that they want us to believe they reallly are real women, like you and me, but what happens is the message gets misconstrude. They are real women like you and me because they breathe, eat, walk, talk and the like but they also have a whole lot more money and are being endorsed to grace covers of magazines, they get paid to where certain products and like Kim Kardashian she does have a side job of selling diet pills. Is that really a message of empowerment she wants send to her fans, many of which are teenagers?

  20. Jennifer says:

    Articles like this are so essential right now with self-esteem issues becoming so prominent. It is important to teach children that images on the cover of a magazine can be misleading and they are often not a realistic representation of what life is really like. It is great to see celebrity the importance of showing their “real” image. The goal of young girls should not be a size zero pant, it should to be yourself. This just goes to show how reality shows are not so real. It is important to embrace what actually is real. The norm in America is not a size 2, and the Britney photo is a testament to that. She looks like the norm in the untouched photo, and use looks like a stereotype in the retouched photo. Society needs to work towards accepting the majority rather than praising the minority (celebrities).

  21. Our society’s view of models and celebrities is that they are perfect like Barbie and we are so much less than that. By publicizing these unaltered photographs, they are showing they are not as perfect as the media portrays them. A lot of young impressionable girls look at these celebrities as a model of what they want to look like which is disturbing for their psyche. If these photographs make one female or male feel better about themselves for even an hour, it is worth it.

  22. Salina G. says:

    I doubt that one photo shoot of some famous celebrity who makes millions and millions of dollars each day, will make a difference on how young girls, teenagers, and women feel about their body. If they continued to pose all natural in every single shoot, then there might be some minute significant change, but why would they? They make so much money that “one” photo shoot will not hurt their bank account, but to do it every single shoot, it’s not going to happen. The problem with media is that it pays, sells, and makes so much more on profit to be sexy, skinny, thin, and in many ways, fake, who cares how it makes young girls, teenagers, and women feel. Obviously these celebrities, who inevitably are role models whether they want or choose to be, could care less how they these young girls feel. Sadly, these young women look up to these celebrities on T.V. and in music. Why there is no supervision for such things, that’s a whole other subject.
    But until some or most of these celebrities take a stand and pose natural and commit to making a difference instead of a profit, media’s idea of sexy will always win.

  23. Erchanik P. says:

    I do not believe that these photographs have not been retouched. Even thou the media portrays and says that the nude photos these celebrities took are untouched it is hard to believe. Natural beauty is beautiful, but the media and the society that we are growing up in believes that perfection gets you somewhere. In order to be perfect photoshop is needed, and it is sad to think that young girls look up to celebrities who portray themselves as being natural. Although it would be great to believe that (even if these photos were not retouched or photo-shoped) the pictures above are actually making a change in our society, it would take more than one cover shot from a celebrity to make a change in society, and make women and young girls feel good about themselves.

  24. This article is dead on. I think that having this pictures out for the public to consume them is a step forward. I know that there is a longer way to go, however, we can stay optimistic and look on the bright side of all this (it being the acceptance of plus size models). As for the pictures of Britney and Kim, I would believe that the fact that they took those “unaltered” pictures, still makes them vulnerable to being criticized as this article did. I wouldn’t argue against their already altered body, but non-the less, bold. I do hope that one day women will be able to receive positive encouragement from the media to the home.

  25. This article is spot on with the debilitating standards of beauty effecting just about everyone male and females alike. The bit about Kardashian is also noteworthy being the hypocrite that she tends to be, the fact that she is a spokesperson for unnecessary diet pills while flaunting her manufactured pre-altered body is saddening enough that she believes that’s her natural self. If have an unaltered photo of yourself publish is indeed so empowering why not continue to do so, is she so self-conscious that she and Spears can’t just continue their modeling careers on a non-photo shopped policy. Humanity is a diverse and beautiful species; we are all unique and attractive in our own ways. I agree that the beauty standard needs to be altered but it will be a movement involving trench warfare.

  26. Ajalah T. says:

    While I do believe that some of these un-retouched photos are only done for sales and ratings it does not negate the fact that it is still sending out the right message and that is “This is what women really look like”. I think that a lot of the pressures that the media creates in women through these images such as increased rates of anorexia, bulimia, plastic surgery etc. will wane if a woman is able to look at a picture and realize that’s not real. Many people look at celebrities on television and in magazines and worship the way they look without knowing that they would look that way too if with the right Photoshop software. Most of these models that have been overly retouched look more like “us” (average women) than they do their own altered photograph. There are people that believe that a few un-retouched photos does not negate the millions of retouched ones we come across every day but we must realized that change does not happen overnight and that we must not just give up trying and fall victim to the need for instant gratification. Hopefully this is only the beginning of the rebellion against the ideal woman that the media has created. If it requires less than ideal circumstances to kick start mass awareness then so be it.

  27. Linda Segura says:

    It’s so nice to see a woman with real beauty and curves and confidence showing herself off, instead of a photoshop image of beauty that isn’t real or exists. More women should show off their true beauty in this way. It comes to my mind that for those women in the media whether celebs or spokes models having their images altered as much as they do in photos, when revealing their true image of who they are after waking up in the morning, or having a baby, dropping and gaining weight for acting parts, even as men do as well as women. How does this constant physical change hurt or distort who they are, or can they see themselves? With an a constant back n forth expectation I would think that in itself is very damaging to the person emotionally and otherwise.

  28. S.Lockey says:

    I think that these images are all about publicity. They are not part of the norm, or what the media is saying is beautiful. If anything the attention separates the real women from the media and just shows women how different they are. While at the same time saying, “we accept you,” but then going back to the 90 lb. models the following cover. In order for the regular woman figure to be a norm and accepted as a media image it needs to be present all the time. Not just an issue a year to get a little PR buzz. I think bringing photo editing to light in relation to real women shows more about what is real in magazines. The Dove campaign a few years ago did this very well. They took real women and with make-up, hair, and air brushing made them look like a super model version of their former selves. Instead of saying “you are a real women, and they are models,” this campaign said “models are real women just like you.” I think that was more meaningful but still an ad campaign, not regular media images. The media’s portrayal of women needs to change as a whole for these female images to have meaning.

  29. Samantha H says:

    Magazines try to project an image of beauty and almost a god-like perfection to the celebrity women they feature. I am by no means denying their natural beauty, but not only do they have Photoshop, they have a team of make-up artists, personal trainers, and stylists to create this image. It is nice to see images that aren’t retouched, but when it happens, they make such a big deal about it because it is so rare. I would definitely think if I were a celebrity I would actually like the retouching because there is such a spotlight and focus on physical appearance. Although they claim it is empowerment, I agree that Kim Kardashian is using it for publicity, not really for the empowering feeling. Even though I am fully aware that the majority, if not all photos featured in magazines are retouched, it is still hard to not compare yourselves to the images we are constantly bombarded with. Thinness is the main image shown, so when “plus size” women are shown, it is surprising and sometimes criticized. I would love to see our media expand the one-dimensional view of beauty, but with a society so focused on physical appearance, it is going to take a lot of people dedicated to change that mindset.

  30. LilianaC says:

    When it comes to photo shopped images I don’t understand why there is so much that are put into the images. Celebrities do feel empowered when they have flawless images. The reason they feel empowered is because the images are an unrealistic image of them. These images that are retouched are made to give the eye of the beholder what they want to see. The media and celebrities want to feel as if these images will show that they are of higher power because they look like perfection. If companies are trying to sell their products through celebrities they should not retouch these photos to show they are regular humans that have flaws too. The reason that they keep retouching these images is to produce images that they think are desired by society. The reason that celebrities chose to release these images is because they are under a microscope. If they show there flaws they will be ridiculed for not being perfect. They also do it to feel empowered which is not a good quality. They should be more empowered to show the real them.

  31. Natali Fernandez says:

    It is pretty good to see these images that are not altered. It’s away to show girls that we don’t all need to look skinny. But at the same time it’s out there as much for us to see. It should be shown more the natural beauty of a woman even if your skinny or have curves shouldn’t mean anything. It should give us the confidence of feeling good no matter what we look like, because we are all beautiful inside. Seeing all of these images that are be altered dramatically is pretty sad, because girls even me at times think we need to look like that to be accepted in society which in reality we will never look like that. It was a sense of relief that there are images not altered.

  32. Catie Smith says:

    As a woman who is a size 8 and has never been below a 6, I hate looking at advertisements of women in magazines or billboards. I think to myself, I will never look like that and if I ever do, the only way to get there would be to starve myself. While I think it is somewhat empowering to show women as they really are, I wish it was on a regular basis and not a headline like: “Kim Kardashian Unretouched”. I wish it was a given. I feel like whenever we see women who are bigger or not retouched the photo and the article are all about that. It is never about the clothes, or the makeup. It is always about the body. My only saving grace is that I know the average woman does not look like those retouched photos. I also know that men (although not all) for the most part do not find a rail thin girl to be attractive. I hope with time, these images of women will begin to change and more “real women” will be on the covers.

  33. The “unretouched” photo of Britney Spears is retouched.

  34. GabrielaV says:

    Online Participation #1
    you dont have to be a genius to recognize that whats happening here is that we are being fooled into believing that magazines like glamour magazine actually care about how women percieve themselves. The bottom line is that they are in the business of beuty for profit. I f they do show an image or two of a woman who is curvy it is only because it is fashionable. What might have been fashionable yesterday may not be fashionable tomorrow. Although magazines like Glamour have shown the token chubby girl in their magazines it hasn’t really caused any significant change. I hope to someday live in a society where it is the norm to see women of all shapes and sizes on magazine covers. It shouldn’t cause such a phenomenon when we see a woman with a little bit of flab. After all its what we see every day. When I look at myself everyday I see a little bit of flab so why should it be so surprising to see it in a magazine? I would like to see more women like the woman on p.194. Putting an emphasis on “unretouched” photos of women like Kim Kardashian only hurt women in our society by creating a distorted image of what real women look like.

  35. I think displaying images of full figured real women on magazine covers and advertisements is a step in the right direction. However, in an industry where these types of women remain the minority, much more needs to be done to make this the norm. In my opinion, instead of glorifying a magazine that has untouched photos, displays a full figured model on the cover, or features unedited pictures of some celebrity, we should just produce more of them without expecting some big praise from readers. Just put them out there. Do good, without expect something in return. Just one photo of what looks like to be an unedited picture of Kim Kardashian is not going to cut it.

    This brings up something else i find to be very irritating when it comes to displaying “real” women. Just because the people are asking the media to feature real women as opposed to the stick-thin regulars, does not mean we are asking you to find the largest woman you could find and stick her on the cover. Often I see magazine’s that feature gorgeous plus size models and plaster headlines that basically read: “We have a large girl on the cover, buy us!”

    Featuring a plus size model or unedited pictured every six months doesn’t not make you an advocate of real women. Instead it makes you a hypocrite. Real women should be random, everyday women. I think it would be very interesting to see a magazine feature a random everyday women on their cover that no one has ever seen before.

  36. kevin moore says:

    I think these ads are taking steps into the right direction. I think it shows girls that mojority of pictures on magazines are not real images, and to look like the pictures they see are almost impossible. Being thin is usually a recurring theme in these magazines, but what a lot of girls don’t understand that a lot their body has to do with Photoshop and genetics.

  37. FabiolaP says:

    I’d like to think that this is a small step in the right direction even though it may not be with the right intentions. I have to be optimistic and think that even if all these pictures are not really unretouched, at least it gives the idea that it’s okay to look natural. I think that Kim’s picture is beautiful and her body (aside from any controversy around it) is more “natural” looking than most models. However, I think most people are aware that media is just trying new tricks for more money. It’s interesting that the magazines have to boldly title/label the models that have no makeup on and are not airbrushed. It might make more impact to not make any reference to how “natural” these women are, then that would actually make me think we are making a big step towards the right direction.

  38. Kristin F says:

    While releasing unaltered images is a great start to showing women’s natural beauty I agree that it is not going to change societies perspective. It seems as those the celebrities releasing the images are trying to gain more attention and it just seems like a fad to have unaltered images published. In order to fix the problem all images should by unretouched not just a few here and there. Trying to reach physical perfection by not showing who one really is does not represent beauty to me, it is fake. I find it so strange how these models and celebrities etc take credit for their beautiful photos when in reality it is not even a true representation of who they are. Women should have no problem with photos that are not always touched up and feel comfortable as their natural selves.

  39. I think some celebrities are trying to let the people know that they are normal people just like the rest of us thats why they are willing to post images of themselves unretouched and without makeup. I feel like it might be natural for women to feel more attractive with photos enhanced. I have to be honest, ever since I’ve learned how to use photoshop, I feel like its a very useful tool when I take pictures. I feel that if I can look or enhance myself to more “better” in a natural way, then why not? I think us women tend to feel more relieved when we can show our the better looking side of us. Unfortunately, society has made us feel this way due to mass media.

  40. Benjamin B says:

    Although I find it empowering for women to see these unaltered images and find out that there truly is an unrealistic expectation of females physiques today, I think this should be a standard in the media. These magazines are only a tiny minority of what is actually presented in the media today. Media outlets should rather boycott the use of photoshop in their works. By setting a true standard such as this, we would be sending the right messages to individuals, rather than brainwashing them to believe that beauty is the only standard. It is because of images that are shown today in advertisements, and the media in general, in which young women and even men face distorted body images of themselves. They are constantly being compared to unrealistic and impossible images that are portrayed in the media. Additionally, I think it is sad that people like Kim Kardashian play both sides of the field. I have seen her pose in diet pill commercials and in this article she is shown in an unaltered nude image of herself. I believe that women need a true candidate that can reliably display how women are unjustly paralleled to inconceivable images. Someone who actually believes in what they are portraying, not just getting paid to sell an image or a personality.

  41. Melody A. says:

    I don’t think that much has changed. Yes, this is step in the right direction, but these are rare situations. This shouldn’t be out of the ordinary, this should be the norm. Plus size models, untouched photos and natural pictures is what we should be expecting, but instead we get attacked with skinny models and eating disorders. It’s a vicious cycle because the problem isn’t that the editors of these magazines don’t want to change the idea of the “ideal body image,” the fact is that they can’t possibly afford to do it. they are funded by all of the ads that are about “enhancing” your beauty. Honestly, what can they do? I think there needs to be a middle ground here. Maybe if people boycott magazines, refuse to watch television, or something along those lines. Although, with the social pressures and the beauty standards of today, I doubt that would ever happen.

  42. Merri Abramyan says:

    Yes positive change is occurring but not enough it’s still over powered my all the sexy photoshped pictures in the magazines and on the internet. Women need more positive change to start feeling good about their bodies and start loving them. As a young child I was cubby and by the time I got to high school so many kids and even family had made fun of me that I hated my body so much and wanted it. It was not until I took a few women’s classes in collage that made me realize by body might not be perfect but its mine and I need to love it and take care of it. Seeing magazine covers with women on them with their body as it is, is very empowering I am so happy celebrities and models are showing themselves as they are to the world. I also hope this continues and one day we will love our bodies round or skinny we will feel beautiful and sexy

  43. I defiantly agree with these posts, because although magazines featured “real women” in some of their issues they are not consistent to keeping them that way. Once in a while they will put a curvy woman in the cover; but still all the other images used in advertising still portray beauty and body image as being the number one determinant of women. One thing that I never thought about until I read this was that yeah the photos are not being unretouched, but what is it really that they do to look this way. An example is Kim Kardashian, when I first saw this picture of her naked for the magazine Bazar I thought wow she is really beautiful, her body is amazing!, and that is really her body without being retouched by Photoshop, but I never thought or came into mind that she does use dietary pills, gets cellulite removal, and even got Botox one time. So in reality this is not a natural body because it has been altered by removing the cellulite and she has fixed all her imperfections. I would love to see that magazines would portray real “real women” more often on their covers as well advertising agencies to start letting go of the unattainable beauty that they put up on us thru the process of cultivation.

  44. I feel that it’s empowering, but the shock value is still there. If people wanted to see real women, people, figures, etc. they would probably just venture outside. The thing about media, magazines, and movies is that people want to read and see figures and concepts that they dream about, idealize being as/with, or knowing and experiencing the subjects or criteria. Granted, people do check these magazines and ads out and are in a sense empowered by the fact that contemporary standards of beauty are being fought against because of the disproportionate amount of individuals that are affected on the daily, trying to encompass incredibly unrealistic standards of beauty. However true this may be, how long will it last, placing un-retouched images of beauty, and rubenesque women on these covers and in these ads? I hope it’s continual.

  45. Aside from showing plus sized models and saying they are beautiful, I feel that there is absolutely no progress with the images shown. The way they are photographed is nude, or showing so much skin that it is still objectifying women. When men see this it will still portray the image that they are there to be looked at. I understand that this is to be focused on girls and saying that any body type is beautiful. However, the feminist battle is still being lost in the view point of objectification.

  46. Michelle A says:

    It’s always great to see unaltered images because they are a nice change from the usual perfectly photoshopped pictures that are released. I’ve never thought about how little impact these images actually have on our standards of beauty but after reading this article it’s something I’m realizing. So what if a few unaltered pictures of a plus size woman are printed and advertised? Those few images are trumped by the millions of photoshopped pictures we are used to seeing. Kim Kardashian’s image is so hypocritical because on her show she is always talking about losing weight, toning up, her cellulite and her diet pills. Let’s not forget that she has a body most woman would kill for so seeing Kim’s “unaltered” picture doesn’t necessarily give me a boost in self-esteem. When unaltered images of plus size women are released they aren’t a step in the right direction they’re more of a spectacle for a little while and then everyone forgets.

  47. Elizabeth D. says:

    It is great to see photos of models and celebs showing their true beauty. I actually find these images empowering. However, I think we don’t seem to realize that even models have dislikes about their own bodies; even the ones who pose nude in photos must have insecurities. We are all humans and it’s just a natural feeling we all go through, including men. I think that with the new gadgets photographers use to enhance and alter photos gives these models and celebs a sense of safety of showing the public a perfect body image of themselves, which I think it isn’t right. Media puts too much pressure on women to look young, slim, and beautiful. Women who aren’t afraid to show their true body I consider them as empowering; just like the women represented above. Although, I can see how these images can be perceived as ‘empower-tainment’ because in reality we rarely do see images of women like this more often. And when images of women are represented unaltered the media makes a huge fuss about it. Overall, seeing images of models and celebs like this can bring a brief moment of a boost of self-esteem but really wish we have this regularly.

  48. Juana Vitela says:

    It’s very interesting to me to see the ways in which media manipulates images and alters them to show a perfection in beauty that just simply does not exist. I look at magazines, commercial and billboards and all i can think of is what does that beautiful model really looks like. I have heard about Photoshop probably since it came out but I never really understood to what depths it was used. Im glad to see that their is celebrities and people who want to make a difference and show that beauty is not perfection and that their is different types of beauties not only the one which we are socialized to accept. Although I believe is a positive thing that these celebrities are showing the real them with no touch ups or anything i believe that the power of our society is much stronger and this society will keep socializing people to believe that their is only one type of beauty and that is a tall, young, skinny, blonde girl with colored eyes.

  49. Holly A. says:

    To be quite honest, I do not think these plus sized images change anything. As sad as it sounds, I think they are more for entertainment purposes. Although it makes me happy that girls of different sizes are being recognized, things will never change. We have been socialized to think of beauty as thin and anorexic, that when such photos come out, they are “fun” and “entertaining”. Sort of a way for magazines and large companies to say “hey we feel bad for this over weight girl. Let’s make her feel pretty for once. Hey world, look at us we think all sizes are beautiful.” No, they really do not think all sizes are beautiful. Also, I really do not beleive the so called “unaltered” pictures of Kim K are un altered. This social norm of thinness and perfection is so deeply imprinted in our conscious and subconscious minds that nothing can come and change our beliefs.

  50. Nicole Z. says:

    I must divulge, I am the first one to run out and buy an issue that features a beautiful woman who has not been airbrushed. Since celebrities are always portrayed in a glamorous and seemingly picture-perfect light, it makes me feel a little better about myself to see them sans makeup and photoshop. I am keenly aware that my self-acceptance should not be contingent upon images I see in the media, but I am only human. After being subjected to a barrage of artificial, retouched photos on a daily basis, a glimpse of reality is more than welcome. However, after reading this article I realize that a temporary satiation is not significant enough to evoke any real sense of change. Kim Kardashian may have posed in the buff, allegedly without any airbrushing, but she is known for her heavy use of makeup and has been accused of plastic surgery in the past. She also exploits herself in the conquest of fame and fortune and has participated on multiple photo shoots that utilized intense editing.

    The publication of bare-faced celebrities is a shameless marketing ploy. Editors of magazines know how to increase sales and this is just one of the means to do so. I challenge you to name one woman who would not appreciate seeing their favorite star au natural. We want to feel like celebrities are just like all of us, flaws and all. In order to promote any real transformation in our society, unedited photos need to become a common fixture in the media and print sources. They need to become normalized to the point that we will no longer are astonished by their publication. I do not argue for the complete extinction of beauty ads, but rather for the seamless integration of natural photos in print ads.
    We are lead to believe that our society’s ideal of beauty is inherent, but in all actuality it is socially-constructed; as we collectively become cognizant of this fact, we can band together and rally for change!

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