I found this over at Perez Hilton’s–a photo of Britney Spears from the new TV Guide.
You can, if you like, head over there to read all the comments about how good Spears looks. I, myself, feel like screaming, “That’s not her arm!” Because, it’s not her arm.
That’s not what Spears’ arm looks like and that’s not an arm that exists in nature. I know we’ve had the airbrushing discussion before and I remain a person of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I appreciate that being able to retouch photos when the circumstances under which they were taken were less than ideal is nice. On the other hand, I really don’t like it. I get that it’s an art, and I appreciate it as an art. But when we see it normally, it’s not being presented to us as an art–it’s being presented to us as a representation of reality.
That picture of Spears is supposed to be a representation of what she looks like in real life, now that she’s gotten her act back together (someone could write a great post on how photos of Spears pulling her life together and looking mentally healthy are of her looking thin and how photos of her showing her as being out of control and mentally ill are of her looking less thin, even when those photos are obviously taken either at the same time or just days apart, but I’m on a little different track here). But that’s not what she looks like in real life. You can even look at other photos on Hilton’s site to see that.
Still, my mind really wants to accept that as an accurate portrayal of reality.
You can stick “examples of airbrushing” into any search engine and get sites like Greg Apodaca’s. Look here to see what he was able to do to a woman in a bikini. But, first, before you mouse over to see the “before,” just look at that. Do you register that as a picture of that woman (meaning a pretty accurate portrayal of what that particular woman looks like) or as an illustration of a woman (meaning a pretty accurate rendition of someone’s idea of what a woman might look like)?
Because, I have to tell you, no matter how much I know that’s just an illustration of a woman, my mind wants to see it as a picture of a woman. I want to reiterate that I don’t blame Apodaca for that. He’s just doing what he’s paid to do and he’s damn good at it.
But I worry about what it does to us and our expectations for ourselves when our brains cannot make that distinction.
I was reading over at Kate Harding’s today about how one of her reader’s daughters was handed a pamphlet in class that directed the pamphlet recipient (a young girl about to start menstruating) to a site sponsored by Proctor and Gamble. One of the pages on that site was this one.
On a page full of tips on how to stop young girls from becoming Fatty McFattersons, here’s some of the “advice.”:
2. Write down everything you eat. Icky, we know, but we also know there’s no better substitute (except looking at yourself in the mirror naked), that’s better than tracking what goes into your mouth to get you into the habit of thinking before you eat.
Yes, America, Proctor and Gamble is advising your young daughters to stand in front of a mirror naked, scrutinizing themselves for signs of fat.
That, my friends, is disgusting enough. (And shame on P&G for the whole post, which might as well just be a guide for how to develop an eating disorder.)
But I want you to think about it in context with that picture of Spears or the “woman” in the doctored photo.
Because how is a girl, standing there naked in front of the mirror on P&G’s advice, supposed to know how she “should” look?
I turn to food when I’m stressed or depressed. But I have a fast metabolism. I do still have a little chubby though lol.
I’m 13 and I weigh 105 pounds.
I am 13 and weigh somewhere in the range of 108-110..
Is that normal? I don’t really know.
I am scared to step on a scale because i think I will get stressed out over what I weigh.
I am 12 years old and weigh 130 lbs everyone says i m not fat but believe me i am someone plezzz help!!!!
alright, I am 15 years old, 5’5″, and I weigh about 118 lbs.
what do you think about this?I always want to lose weight but I have no freaken self control!it’s so hard!
I tell you where they turn, what they compare themselves to–to “women” who don’t exist in real life, to doctored, photoshopped illustrations that vaguely resemble the actual women they’re based on.
Is it enough to point out to girls that obsessing over what you eat is a convenient way to keep you wasting mental energy that could be spent on actually making your life better? That the women they’re being encouraged to be like don’t exist in real life anyway? That they’re almost constantly being lied to in order to make them feel like shit so they’ll buy stuff?
And how can we tell girls that stuff and expect them to believe it when we ourselves have such a hard time accepting it as the truth?