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. I think the images of the women they really are is better for the society. When I see a girl without make up or a picture of a girl like Britney or Kim without any alterations I see there actually beauty. The pictures that are altered for magazines and such are bad for all people. It makes all females feel as if they are fat or ugly when they aren’t. They see these pictures and give them selves expectations that are close to impossible. Makes girls who are skinny and don’t need to loose any weight go and get eating disorders. Women should boy cot these type of pictures. I’ve never in my life seen a girl as skinny as some of these girls in these ad’s. I live in LA to home of all the models and skinny girl’s. When people go out and show them selves skinny or fat, it can make a person feel better and that’s what these ad’s should try to do.

  2. In a weird way, I actually enjoyed looking through the photos of these NATURALLY beautiful women. I thought I was able to relate to some factors of their body types and not feel a sense of low self-esteem or jealousy when looking through the images. These are the photos of what real women look like, maybe a little curvy and without the helpful lighting, photo shopped images, and a realistic amount of make up. The fact that Kim Kardashian feels empowered to show off her curves while laying naked in front of cameras for the whole world to see is just so contradictory and foolish of her to do. Just because she has some sort of curves, she thinks she is sharing a new concept of body types to the world.

  3. I’m glad there are women out there and magazines out there that releash untouched photos, but I feel like those few untouched photos are nothing compared to ALL the other photos we see and that we’re exposed to. I don’t know how any girl can look at those skin-rail models and want to achieve to look like them, to me that’s not beautiful. Sure they’re skinny but it looks like they’re barely making it alive. I can relate more to the “real” women that are featured above. Everyone has stomach rolls, even woman trainers that have six packs have little rolls or skin rolls when they sit down. To me that’s real and I can relate more to that.

  4. A lot of women and girls are constantly attacking themselves and the way they look because of what they see in advertisements and mainstream media. What a lot of them don’t realize is every single photo or shot has even technologically altered to make the public believe that they are “perfect”. Who is anyone to say which body is or is not perfect?! Yes, there are instances where some of these celebrities will release their unedited photos but what does that say about their character when they still go through with the edited photos for their own external validation. Even still many of these celebrities need to know that they are seen as role models to a lot of women and if they didn’t cave in to mainstream media fake appearances then maybe they could change the way a lot of girls feel about themselves.

  5. StephanieR. says:

    I understand how unaltered photos and displaying more “normal sized” women is starting to become more a part of entertainment and less empowerment. It seems like lately people are just trying to be a part of the status quo and a part of this whole movement of displaying bigger bodies- and they’re doing it more for the publicity and less for the actual cause. I don’t agree, though, that displaying these pictures is detrimental to the cause. I believe they help show that not being model thin is not only okay, but actually normal. We don’t all have to be stick thin or have patriarchal society’s version of ‘amazing’ bodies. For a nation where self-harm and eating disorders are sky rocketing and self-esteem is plummeting, it’s important to let people see actors and models in a natural state.

  6. Shahriar Mangoli says:

    Wow! I actually never thought such magazine company would be out there to do such thing. I believe that NATURAL models can relate to many more people. These pictures give women a reason to be a lot more satisfied with themselves. For once, girls are comparing themselves to NATURAL looking people and do not have to worry about becoming self-conscious when compared to other girls.

  7. This is sad

  8. As mentioned in class, looking at these unadulterated images truly is a spectacle. My eyes immediately spot the body features like folds, curves, and shadows that you normally wouldn’t see on a perfect “model.” However, my mentality while looking at these pictures were of empowerment and a you-go-girl-for-being-brave attitude. These photos do add and contribute to the variety of body types out there. However, they are too few and therefore are forgotten with the next image of a sexy body. If these images became more interlaced with every magazine issue from now on (not just 1 picture out of 100′s in a issue like in the case of Glamour), then it will truly start to be empowering. It will make it acceptable for growing girls or women throughout that all body types are celebrated. There is not one standard mold that all women should fit into. The Eurocentric standard of beauty is only one of many. The diversity of culturally different bodies however is lost or considered inferior because it is not given much standing in mass media. Women are of all different shades and shapes. Mass media has made the Eurocentric model into the accepted standard of beauty. Therefore, it is possible to use this tool to reverse this. And this in turn will reverse men’s perception of beauty so that the 36-24-36 is not the epitome of beauty for all men. Even men will be influenced to find beauty in all body types.

  9. Daniella L says:

    I feel like there are 10 times more magazines that are touched making celebrities look skinnier than untouched one. But knowing that there are some photos that have been taking naturally makes me happy because people can stop comparing themselves to how those women look. It is good to show pictures in magazines of how real women look like. I cant stand looking at girls who are skinny barely can hold themselves together and think that women out there want to be and look like them. A video was shown in class and it was amazing to see how you can totally change a person’s look with computers. Celebrities could release one picture out of a million that was not photo shopped but really what is the message that they are trying to portray?

  10. I think there is nothing better than showing women as they are. Airbrushing and Photoshop effects only deceive people and give them false hope that the ultimate perfection is possible. However, I think that if there women come on these mainstream magazine covers and spreads to flaunt their untouched photos, they should preach that for the rest of their career. That is the only way we can make a change is here. By doing so, women can finally look at themselves and feel confidant in who they are and how they look. It is all about persistence with the message we are trying to send by displaying curving untouched women on magazines.

  11. Jonathan M says:

    This idea of ‘perfection’ as it comes up in the media has started to grab my attention more often than it used to after I enrolled in my Women’s Studies class. I will never understand why magazines will show these models which have been digitally altered and retouched. Yes, they may look “perfect”, but when the model herself does not look anything like her own picture what are people supposed to make of that. What magazines are telling people then is to try to live up to photoshopped images. In my opinion, this is absurd because I can guarantee that no matter how much somebody tries to look like the people in these ads, they will never reach that goal and that it because the goal they are trying to reach doesn’t exist in the first place. Magazines should portray more females as well as males in their natural bodies, excluding any photoshop and other digital enhancements. I believe this will allow people to ease up on themselves knowing that if these celebrities are comfortable in their own skins and are having pictures being taken of them, we as people can be comfortable too.

  12. It has to be good for women and the women’s movement to have Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian publishing photographs of themselves that are un-retouched. Even though these are not ordinary-looking women, and most would still feel inadequate in comparison, it is better to see them as they actually are. They also have shapes where other women also do, and even if the photographs can still make other women feel inferior at least they bring Spears and Kardashian into the realm of reality. I would like to see more of this – more women with ordinary or plus-size bodies presented as beautiful and desirable on the covers of magazines. Only in this way will we ever, as a culture, get over the ridiculous idea that women have to be tall and thin to be beautiful.

  13. Jasmine Gh says:

    Having these women pose without the assistance of devices such as Photoshop and some without makeup does empower women to know beauty is not completely perfections. However, Britney Spears and Kim Kardashain do not serve as the norm in society. They are extraordinarily beautiful women, and they still do not serve as normal women. To be part of the media culture, there is a certain standard of beauty these women attain to. They still have a team of nutritionists, trainers, and stylists that create an illusion of “natural” beauty. For an empowering image, pictures of real women having a career without the ideal image of beauty must be circulated.

  14. Maria A. says:

    I wish they would stop photoshopping everything and show us the truth.
    Seeing this images of what a “real women” looks like is great, but
    I agree that the retouched photos overpower the unretouched ones.
    I do not believe that the picture of Kim Kardashian is real.
    Everything about her looks flawless, no one in this world is perfect.
    I do not think celebrities would admit if they have had photoshopped done to their pictures.

  15. Jasmin H says:

    When I see a good looking model with no flaws, it makes me not want to read a magazine because all I would do is compare myself to her. However, when I see average woman with some flaws or an imperfect nose or a zit, I can relate to her more and make me know that nobody is perfect. When I see celebrities without make up they become even more beautiful to me because it shows how confident they are without wearing any make up. Not only does it inspire me not to be self conscious it makes me feel that I myself do not need to wear loads of make up in order to see myself as beautiful. I’m also impressed by Kim Kardashain, being able to show off her curves without hiding it. This shows that there are many different types of bodies and that everyone should appreciate what they have.

  16. Jacklynn M says:

    As I scrolled down viewing the above images, I began to feel a slight sense of empowerment due to the fact that not only were there images of models I did not recognize, but also ones I see images of almost daily: Spears and Kardashian. It is refreshing to see images of women that I feel as if I can relate to more. However, it is skeptical that these images are completely unphotoshopped, especially the ones of Spears and Kardashian. People see so many more pictures portraying the ideal beauty image that even pictures such as these do not grasp people’s attention enough to make a prominent difference. These types of images would need to be shown on a more consistent basis because consciously and unconsciously, a massive majority of women are comparing themselves to these mainstream “beauties.”

  17. We are constantly being subjected to a million and one images of how to look, act, behave and be seen. This one dimensional vision how society views beauty and the beauty ideal. It isn’t that a single image matters, but the constant reinforcement of thousands of these images that act on each other. They become a norm. Once one imagine, outside that box, appears we are aware of it because it is different, unique and real. That is why adds like the ones shown above matter. They are just a couple magazine shots, but they make people thing and they leave a longer affect of awareness because cut the norm of the images that unconsciously seeps into all out minds. Its beautiful to think that a women can be real and still beautiful, a blemish, fat, paleness.. that makes us, us.

  18. Zury C. says:

    I completely agree with this article. Although these unretouched images are very inspirational and/or authentic, they don’t stand to make change when compared to the millions of images that are the opposite. Our idea of beauty comes from the prolific imagery we’re surrounded by every day which emphasizes on thinness, large breasts, etc. This is used as a tool for cultivation which will need more than a few stray photos to really make change. More images that include real and unretouched women are necessary to realize that this ideal beauty image is unrealistic and unhealthy. The media needs to start putting out accurate information and images so that there could be real change and so we won’t be so critical of ourselves as well as others.

  19. Although I appreciate the effort that magazines make to show celebrities and models au natural, I dont think its going to make a difference. The women that they select to feature in their magazine are all naturally gorgeous women, even without makeup. Yes, its nice to see what these people look like, but in a way its still problematic. Seeing a woman undeniably beautiful without make up makes me want to work on myself even more so I can also look gorgeous without makeup. Even in some of the unaltered photos of models and celebs posing practically naked can have the same effect. When I see that their bodies are still amazing with no retouching, I would want to make my own body like that too because in a way I think it is more realistic since it is untouched. One unaltered picture of these famous women does not change anything because of the thousands of other retouched images of them. Again, I think what they are doing is great and can send out the message that even natural is beautiful, I do not think it is going to change society’s mentality. At least not yet.

  20. Danielle B. says:

    I have never come across a magazine without editing or retouching before! This article was so refreshing to see that there are magazines that actually depict women of their true beauty and body image. Being someone who wears make up on my face every single day, whether I go out in public or just stay in my apartment, I now feel as if I can try going a day without make up. If these women are comfortable and loved for who they are, despite whether or not they have make up on, then I should be confident enough to do so. It’s satisfying to be able to see that everyone else is just as imperfect as the next person. I feel that the only reason we, as girls, become self-conscious about our look and body image is because we are constantly comparing ourselves to the way others look. If we did not have these perfect images of photo shopped bodies to compare ours to, then I feel that we would be able to accept our bodies and looks more. I agree with the article that the magazines that feature women without photo shop will not stand out to many, but I do think that it makes all the difference to the people it does stand out to. The only real perception of a perfect body or image is what society (us) and the media deems ideal.

  21. Bryan K says:

    Unfortunately, some people are not aware that the photographs they see in magazines are digitally altered. These people believe that the people they’re looking at as they flip through the pages are naturally ‘flawless’. Truth is, many of these featured individuals have some imperfection. In fact, many of the models dream that they could look as good as they do in photographs. Digitally altered (Photoshop) photos have negative consequences. These images can caused people to develop problems, such as body dysmorphia, disordered eating, or an eating disorder. Furthermore, the rates of mediated images have increased this past decade. Consequently, people consumer more mediated images then they did before. In addition, standards of beauty have become unrealistic and impossible to achieve.

  22. Bryan S says:

    I agree with the author that these images are not enough to effectively empower women and change the image of beauty that the mass media has successfully created for us. Obviously, you can’t change an entire culture’s image of beauty overnight, especially when their image of beauty has been shaped every day for their entire lives. However, I think that you have to start somewhere, and I think these unaltered photos and plus-sized models is a great way to start. I’m optimistic that these plus-sized models and unaltered photos will lead to a more diverse set of images used by the mainstream media.

  23. This is true beauty in my eyes. One can relate the images of these women to our everyday lives. It is sad to know how very few individuals know about all the photoshopped images in the advertisements of today. In reality no man or women looks perfect, but the media makes is seem that there is a flawless and ideal beauty out there and sets that as the standard by which we all have to strive for.

  24. Brenda S. says:

    We cannot change our culture and the perspective of the masses over night, but must start somewhere. Although I believe that images like these are better than none at all, it is still not enough. The fact there is an overwhelming amount of “skinny” models portrayed in the media, especially compared to the amount of normal women is unacceptable. And still keeping in mind that most of these “real” women have had procedures altering their natural bodies, so they too are not an accurate representation of a real woman. The media has brainwashed us into thinking the thinner you are, the more beautiful, but true beauty is seen in everyday women like you and me.

  25. Shahien Hendizadeh says:

    I feel that the women whose images are not photo shopped or retouched are better for society. However the images that are retouched are better for business. Because nudity sells the magazine companies must retouch the images to put them onto a magazine, although i dont think it will help women who are insecure about their bodies. For society it is better that they not be retouched but for business it is not good because being perfect sells, being not perfect does not sell. It all matters on the point of view that you are looking at.

  26. Ambar P. says:

    Every effort counts, and every effort helps. I truly think that whether it’s ONE photo of Britney Spears, or ONE image of a curve woman on the cover of a magazine, it is REVOLUTIONARY. It is something so rare and beautiful that we make a big deal about it, and isn’t that the point? To get the message across? PhotoShop sucks, and I personally hate everything about it. I don’t think women (or anyone, for that matter) should be edited. Editors have gone overboard with their airbrushes, and I’d love to see more REAL women in the media. Not simply “unedited” photos of famous people, but it would be amazing if a photographer would go out and seek random women from grocery stores or on the streets, even coffee shops, and have them be models. There is something so powerful in natural beauty, and natural IMPERFECTIONS. If women can relate to the model being advertised, it would benefit everyone (the companies, as well as the women and their self-esteem).

  27. Cristine B says:

    I totally agree that the untouched photos are more spectacle than they are part of the norm, and it really should not be that way at all. I also agree that women who do have many retouched photos out there that now have a few untouched photos don’t really have much to be celebrating about. That being said, I am glad that there these photos are coming out, and hope that more of them continue to do so. As trivial as they may be compared to the rest of the advertising world, you have to start somewhere.

  28. Johanna J says:

    I hate that all the pictures of women being displayed to us are all altered. Women are not perfect! Women have flaws! Not all women are thin, cellulite free, wrinkle free, and have perfect skin. I absolutely love when I see photos of celebrities without make up because it makes them some how a little normal. I think that photographers editing photos to make them look flawless and perfect effects many women in negatives ways. If all we see in the media are thin models, we began to think that being fat is wrong and that there is something not right about us. Eating disorders is a serious issue that many young girls have because of the pressure to be skinny because of what society considers beautiful. We need to see women of all sizes and color in the media. We need to see that it is okay to be thin, fat, short, tall, dark, white, have long hair, and short hair. What magazines should really be doing is embracing women of all sizes and redefine what beauty is..

  29. Jasmine P says:

    I think that showing images of these women without editing them or anything is a magazines attempt at showing normal people that everyone has their flaws or even that everyone can look beautiful with or without makeup or photoshop but to be honest, I think that in some cases, it doesn’t make the situation better at all. Some women may look at the magazine and see that most of these women, especially the European models, are just naturally skinny and beautiful and that might make them think even less of themselves. These unretouched images may push them to work even harder on themselves so that they too can look naturally beautiful just like the women they see in the media.

  30. Kayla A says:

    Whether watching TV, browsing the net, or looking at a magazine, I have always loved it when I saw an image of a realistic woman with a realistic body instead the average thin tall model. I always thought that it was a nice change and really appreciated it. However after reading this article it made me look at it in a different light. Yes it is nice to see the photos of normal women without being retouched, however as you pointed out it does not have a great impact in the long run. The ratio of images of real women to retouched, perfected, impossible to look like women is low. Our culture I still saturated with images of women with unattainable beauty statuses. Even if we consciously see the few portrayals of real beauty, the photos we take in subconsciously is still at greater number. Until these images of real beauty become the norm, the expected and not out of the ordinary in our culture we will never see a difference.

  31. Qujuan F says:

    I really respect the women who love their bodies and doesn’t rely on Photoshop to make their bodies look perfect when they are not. Since everyone isn’t perfect, accepting the way you look make women even more attractive. Now-a-days everywhere in ads you see skinny women here and skinny women there, but what about all of the other shapes and sizes of women, why don’t they get recognize for their beautiful bodies as much as skinny women. in reality it all comes down to what society see as normal and the media shows plenty of skinny perfect women as being that normal when in reality they are far from even being real. To all the women that are unhappy with your body, please do not try to change yourself and to try and achieve an unachievable goal for all women!

  32. Skye J. says:

    This is pretty cool! I definitely think un-retouched photos are empowering. I think eventually they may become empower-tainment because it will become a trend to be “natural.” But, in the end I think that’s okay because I think it is more important to have the regular photos out there instead of the photoshopped ones. It is important that women and men learn that what we look at everyday in magazines is not real. Women continue to obsess over being perfect or being like the girls in the magazines when there is no such thing. Men continue to believe that all women should look like the girls in magazines… which then makes real women (and the real women that are retouched in the magazines) not look so good. Vicious cycle.

  33. The only thing these images make me feel are like shit. I do not feel empowered. I do not feel better about my body. I think the only thing I feel is, “Ok, so maybe you don’t have to be thin anymore, but you still need to be hot so you still fail.” For those of us that have not won the genetic lottery, seeing hot girls that are fat, ethnic, without airbrushing or makeup just reminds me that some girls are still hot and they don’t need to fill any Euro-centric, normative ideals of beauty. Bleh.

  34. CrystalY says:

    I believe that occasional photos that deviate from what we are we constantly bombarded with in the media make no difference. They have absolutely no impact on us because they are so rare. Another problem with these images is that when there are published, they are published with a caption that describes how they are different from the usual pictures published. That would be like putting a disclaiming on every photo that’s retouched that says “this photo has been altered/photo-shopped” and we all know that would never happen. The issue of French Elle that features eight European models without make-up or digital touch ups seems like a nice and progressive idea at first but the more I analyze it, the more I realize how flawed it is. The biggest flaw has to be the fact that the women featured in this make-up and touch-up free edition is that they are MODELS. The simple fact that they are models proves that these women are as close to “perfection” without photoshop and make-up as they possibly can be; not to mention that they are being photographed by a professional photographer with the best cameras and best lighting possible. The Glamour Magazine issue that features “the woman on page 194” that’s blissfully comfortable with herself, belly roll and all. It’s a nice image to look at until you look at the cover of the magazine and see “3 FLAT BELLY SECRETS: Tone up your abs without working out”… That just proves how much having a slim figure matters, even if it’s not achieved in a way that supports health. These occasional bold images do not change a thing about the way beauty is perceived in our culture. It’s unfortunate how rarely we see images like these and even more unfortunate that even when they are published, they are captioned in a way to show that they aren’t the norm.

  35. Justin N says:

    When i see a women without makeup i see confidence. i see a women who knows she beautiful inside and out because she doesnt need all those extra peices to make her seem beautiful. I think its ok to not retouch a picture because it actually shows the true beauty of these models. Little girls look up to these women and if they see that these models or actresses dont need makeup or retouching then they themselves wont do it either. I respect women so much more when they dont wear 2 pounds of makeup and pretend to be someone they’re actually not. Ive taken a computer photoshop class and people dont know what it can do and how crazy it can effect and mix up a picture. it messes with your mind thinking people actually look like that but they really dont. Its horrible…

  36. Essence H says:

    I loved seeing the magiznes of the plus size women. It made me me happy to actually see somthing where it wasn’t photoshopped just natrual. I really think that they should keep it like this, but i’m sure that’s not going to happen no time soon. If it ever does happen, i think that it would make all women feel more comfortable about thier body.

  37. I think that the efforts of these unretouched photos go unnoticed compared to the countless of images that take the spotlight through the media. Due to the cultivation of the same sorts of images continously, a few images that do show true flaws are only going to get the viewer’s attention for a short while. Even when these images are observed they are also criticized, perhaps because these unretouched images do not fit the idea of what is normal and “beautiful” in society. However, I think that in the short term unretouched photos do empower women and girls because they are not used to seeing the real flaws in other female celebrities openly, but I agree that with just a few picctures out of the bunch is not likely to bring social change. Even today through social networks like Instagram, the use of filters to edit a picture projects a different reality from the original image. Girls and women are less likely to accept their true features when apps like this encourage the use of editing and filters.

  38. These unaltered pictures and photographs of plus size or curvy models really did not make me feel much different about the industry of modeling as a whole. I feel models will continue to starve themselves and try to appear perfect when behind closed doors they are facing extreme self esteem issues no matter what advertising puts in its magazines. The model life has become a backdrop for tortured individuals who continue their quest to be the prettiest girl they can be. Even in the cases of the celebrities featured in this article i still think their pictures or bodies are at least somewhat altered and also the way technology is the right camera and lighting can make any women look stunning.

  39. Christine E says:

    We are exposed to hundreds of advertisements a day. Most of them are photo shopped, stick thin women, images that give us unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others. These photo shopped images are the ones that affect us the most. A few unaltered images here and there are not going to make a huge difference on societies views about body image. Still, these images set a good example of what ideally should be occurring in advertisements and media. Unfortunately, in our society, the photo shopped images are just becoming more and more prevalent. Images that show real, unaltered women show a great example and might cause us to view things differently. But in the long run, the photo shopped images are still the ones that we judge ourselves and others by.

  40. Image alteration is something that has been around for several years, yet very few people know about it. Many women have become insecure about their body’s and have grown accustomed to pointing out their “imperfections”. This has plagued many with eating disorders and self-esteem problems, that should not exist. Women should feel happy about their own body’s and should not feel the need to feel perfect because everyone is different. It is because such advertisements many women are resorting to more make up, diet pills, or a variety of other alternatives to creating the “perfect body”.

  41. A lot of women and girls are constantly attacking themselves and the way they look because of what they see in advertisements and mainstream media. Many women also pick on their bodies to become something impossible. What a lot of them don’t realize is every single photo or shot has even technologically altered to make the public believe that they are “perfect”. Who is anyone to say which body is or is not perfect?! Yes, there are instances where some of these celebrities will release their unedited photos but what does that say about their character when they still go through with the edited photos for their own external validation. Even still many of these celebrities need to know that they are seen as role models to a lot of women and if they didn’t cave in to mainstream media fake appearances then maybe they could change the way a lot of girls feel about themselves.

  42. Wow, this was different from anything I’ve seen. Throughout all the thousands of magazines I’ve seen in my life, I’ve personally never seen a magazine exposing the idea that having a couple extra pounds is perfectly okay. In today’s society, people are aiming to look like a computer, literally. All the models in the top magazines don’t look nearly the same as they do before they hit the computer. Photoshop causes individuals to feel bad about themselves, causing them to spend more and more money just to reach a level of “happiness.” I feel if these magazines are successful, more people would be much happier and less depressed. Its sad how society alters one’s mood.

  43. Giovanni A says:

    Until we raise our consciences and promote and encourage images not like the mainstream norm, we can effectively chip away at the skinny, white toned, non-real standard of beauty that women are being presented. These images are not only toxic to ones psyche but also creates a false end point for women to aspire to. Since most of the altered images are so manipulated from the original photo. These photos will not only continue to fuel the low confidence and low self-esteem women in our culture it will also promote a message to men that beautiful women look like these types of women. Individuals cannot do this alone, mainstream corporations must contribute and promote a real image of women in order to really make significant change. If theses changes do not happen, we will continue to see starving young women, young suicidal deaths, and violent bashing towards women who do not fit the standard of beauty that our culture values.

  44. Giovanni A says:

    It is sad to see that breast implants are becoming the norm for young women. In my experience, I have had women in my life that feel like the need breast implants to feel validated. Often I try to console them and say, “you’re beautiful the way you are.” However, we as a culture are so socialized into believing that women are more noticeable and beautiful if they have large features, like breasts. These misconceptions only lead to mistrust and low self-esteem, because not only are women seeking the wrong kind of attention they are ultimately conforming to what our cultures values in women, which in my personal opinion is very one dimensional and jaded. Our culture has commodified women to the extent in which we are actually killing, sickening, and dehumanizing them. Sadly, no matter what I say or do I cannot convince the women around me that they are truly beautiful. To them, I guess I am just an exception and until they see that the world around them see them as beautiful inside and out. They will continue to starve themselves, workout uncontrollably, and seek to distort their bodies for pleasure and gratification of others.

  45. I think these images, although rare, are a good step towards creating a healthier and more diverse body image in the media. However, we definitely need tons more in order to balance out the damage already done by the countless altered images published already. We live in a mediated culture that constantly puts out images of one type of woman, who is thin, Eurocentric, and flawless, and seeing an image here and there that is different, although appreciated, is like one drop in an endless ocean. The images we see on a daily basis of stick thin models and celebrities with absolutely no blemishes or marks on their bodies is unrealistic and dangerous to the health of young girls everywhere. We need to speak out against images like these and promote more diversity in order to truly empower women. As the article states, media is all about cultivation and it is time to start cultivating more realistic body types in all media. Just because we see one photo deviating from the norm once in a while does not makeup for the fact that there are millions of altered images to outweigh it.

  46. Jacqueline C says:

    Again, as Kim Kardashian seems to be of such a great interest to the public, and is excessively brought up in feminist articles, I absolutely must comment on how her nude photo, obviously does no justice to the rest of the “real women’s nude body shots”, as she has already been artificially enhancing her body pre-photo shoot. Therefore, her input should be excluded. However, in regard to the essence of the article, Kim’s post about her photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar simply proves how even she, KIM KARDASHIAN-modern day sex symbol- who has her cellulite removed and is the face of a diet pill company, is still insecure about her body. The fact that she includes just how “empowering” her nude shots were, proves that she still was not comfortable being photographed, even after her extensive efforts to achieve perfection. I’d say this is because she is already expected of to have achieved that, and maintain her perfect image, as the media industry depends on her to.

  47. Today we live in a mainstream culture where we are exposed to the vast amount of images of women who have been displayed on billboards/magazines and have had some sort of computer-retouching or cosmetic procedure. These images, which have been created by Photoshop, lighting, make-up, and diets, have created an image that is not even real. Therefore, it causes women in our culture to compare themselves to images that are ultimately unrealistic. Beauty is more important than ever before and the way a women looks is the number one value of a women. Beauty has become the most important factor because they will get scrutinized if they don’t meet the cultural standards of beauty. Although it may seem difficult for many women, I feel that women need to let go of the approval of our society and focus solely on how they want to look for themselves. Once they let go of meeting the cultural standards of beauty, they will be able to feel comfortable in their own skin and not be forced to go through eating disorders to compete with the “fake” images created by our media.

  48. Ashley B. says:

    I think if magazines slowly start to put out unretouched images of these models then it would be a good start to getting these images embraced by the media. In class, I learned that we live in a mediated culture where mass media has a direct impact on culture. The media puts out these images of skinny women with the “perfect” amount of curves with flawless skin and holds all women accountable for not having those kinds of bodies, where in reality, that kind of body is unattainable. Because young girls look up to these models photographed in magazines, they try and achieve their body type and put their own lives in danger in order to be accepted by society’s unrealistic standards. Putting unretouched images in magazines would help women feel empowered by their bodies. These celebrities being photographed should not allow their images to be altered. If Kim Kardashian was so empowered by her picture not being altered, then she should not allow photographers to alter her image in the first place. The problem is that these celebrities feel empowered for the moment by they too feel the scrutiny from the media for not having their photos retouched and they give in to using Photoshop. The media is to blame on the idealized standards of beauty set for women to achieve no matter what is at risk. The pressure to be accepted by society’s standards is very high and needs to be regulated.

  49. Daniella S. says:

    4) I personally think that showing the unedited images of women on these magazines will not change the way the media and society thinks, but every step does count and can make an impact on someone. People often forget to look at themselves in the mirror and love themselves and their bodies for what and who they are. The media puts constant pressure on women and the image they are supposed to have. This high demand in needing to be skinny and thin has affected women in many ways, from eating disorders to anorexia. I appreciate these unretouched photos because it shows me what is real in the world and shows me that not everyone is perfect and that it is okay to have flaws. The media expects things from us that are at most times impossible for some people to achieve. Photoshop is false advertising and should slowly be controlled. Women need to slowly lean that comparing themselves to others is not healthy and to appreciate their bodies.

  50. Melody S. says:

    It was so refreshing to look through the images in this article and see the natural and untouched women displayed in the magazines. We take part in a society where we expect to see the incredibly thin, almost emaciated and tall model with blue eyes and blonde hair; but something that most women don’t realize is that, this is hurting us the most. The models we often see in the magazines are often seen as these beautiful women that every other women wants to be like, but many still do not know the actions taken prior taking the model’s photo or most importantly, after the photo has been taken. First of all, obviously the model is under a huge cosmetic make-over with a team of 15 people trying to make her look good, and then finally after the photo has been taken, there’s another team of people touching up, or photoshopping the model. The aftermath of the photo taken is completely unrealistic and even pretty animated, therefore, most women who look at the front page of the next ELLE Magazine will feel completely insecure, not knowing the truth behind the images they see.

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