OK, this post will probably get me into trouble, but hey that’s never stopped me before. It’s just I am feeling a little unsettled by something and I had get some things off my chest. You see, there’s this image of super model Cindy Crawford doing the rounds on the internet at the moment. It is for an old cover shoot for Marie Claire and it has supposedly been leaked. The reason why it’s getting so much attention is because it’s been untouched, no photoshopping.
There is no doubt about it, Cindy Crawford is spectacularly gorgeous. And this photo is yet another example of her stunning beauty. Seeing her un-photoshopped shows her body, although exquisitely supermodelish, is still a little lumpy, wrinkly, sun damaged and worn as any woman her age, who has spent a lot of time outdoors and who has had children. Yes, she is normal and is not as smooth-skinned as her images normally suggest. Apparently, this is a revelation. Apparently, many intelligent, media savvy people around the world are shocked at Cindy’s realness and she is now being hailed as an even more amazing woman than before when she was just plain amazing*.
Look at how gorgeous she is, normal body and all, they all cry. I love her even more than I did before, they rejoice. Look how normal she is, they cheer. She is so awesome, they all proclaim, nodding their heads in agreement. She is my hero, some suggest.
I’m sorry, this photo has instead done the opposite for me. I feel a little cheated. I feel lied to and played. I feel that Cindy has made a living out of letting the world see her unrealistic self in the pages of glossy magazines and rather than being a brilliant role model for women, she is playing a part in taking advantage of their insecurities. And she is loaded because of it.
I do not know what sort of person she is. I am sure she is a loving mother and a great friend. She probably does a lot for her community and in her real life is a wonderful role model. I do not admire her because she is beautiful and because I do not know her, I can not make a judgement on her personal attributes.
I do know she is a savvy, astute businesswoman who has built on empire on her looks. An empire built on smoke on mirrors. She has navigated this world with professionalism and with her eyes firmly open. Some could say she has been taken advantage of, but I reckon she is too smart for that, she has played her role perfectly. She has obviously worked hard to keep herself looking as perfect as she can and has let the graphic designers and photographers do their jobs. She plays the role of the unattainable goddess perfectly. I admire her business acumen.
But I refuse to judge her more favourably because someone leaked some photos of her true body. She didn’t make that decision to call out the beauty industry, someone else made that decision for her.
The day she refuses to play into the notion that women look more beautiful when they’ve been smoothed out and made to look perfect, is the day I’ll like her more. Until then she is doing her job and that is sell stuff to women who feel so insecure about their bodies that they chase an unattainable reality. They look at the women in the magazines and judge them to be better than themselves because they are prettier than them. They spend hours trying to rub the advertised creams into their wobbly bellies and smearing the advertised foundation onto their sun-kissed skins, so they too can look as beautiful as the Cindy Crawfords of the world. If she can look so perfect after having kids and being nearly 50 than why can’t they? There are women who spend their whole lives chasing a myth.
When she and her fellow supermodels tell their magazine editors and advertisers that they’ll no longer play the game, then I will stand up and applaud her. Until then, I will think of her as I did before – an exceptionally beautiful and smart woman, who has made a living off looking unattainable. A woman who is not a role model, yet instead plays the role of model perfectly because even she can’t look the way she does in the magazines.
What are your thoughts on this?
*Amazing is based on the fact she is beautiful.
I think the most pressing question in all of this that remains unanswered is… just what the f**k is that thing coming out of her ear?!
I had been wondering exactly the same Sonia…body aside all the head gear just looks weird!
That last sentence is SO powerful. And so clever. Not a role model, but plays the role of model perfectly. I want to marry that sentence. Great post, B. x
I’m personally glad that this photo was leaked irrespective of who leaked it. As one of the original troupe of super models Cindy Crawford was an icon of perfection that no normal woman could ever hope to approximate BUT even the Goddess has aged. For me the photo screams – everyone even supermodels age. GET USED TO IT.
NB: In Cindy’s defense I believe she is more down to earth than many of her peers. She has openly admitted to having botox, is honest about her strict exercise regime and is quoted as saying “I don’t get out of bed in the morning looking like Cindy Crawford”. On top of that she was a chemical engineering student before she was discovered so obviously highly intelligent. It’s just not fair!!!!!
Beautifully said Bianca! That last line is gold.
I borrowed a Cindy Crawford work out video to do some exercise at home and she had a fabulous body when doing her work outs and I don’t think you can photo shop video tapes? This was many years ago though. You also have to remember that it’s not necessarily the models that request to be photoshopped, it’s the editors and whoever is in control of the images. Beautiful images sell better than not so great. I didn’t feel any kind of emotion when I saw the photo just thought “models age too”. But it depends when this photo was taken as well. As for your last line, it was very cleverly written. And I unfortunately never got Cindy’s body doing the workout. 🙂
I liked it when I first saw it over the weekend, because I thought it was her being real (and I am still not sure it isn’t, because it is not clear who ‘leaked’ it). Why I liked it was because it showed someone who is clearly very ‘beautiful’, as defined by the model industry, but is still not ‘perfect’, again as defined by the model industry. If even Cindy Crawford, who is born with a naturally tall and slender physique, works out, eats carefully, and is still very slender, has a stomach that shows she is not a teenager, etc, then maybe the false images we are shown so often might be less influential, and we may see less judgment (including self judgment) as a result. I was very disappointed to find out Marie Claire didn’t use the photo – it lessens its influence. (I think I am essentially agreeing with you – except if she had something to do with the leak). And I also agree with Sonia – does she have a lizard or something on her face???
I’m with you. It really feels like time for a least a reduction in Photoshopping. I don’t mind a little bit- evening out of skin tone and minimising a few creases, but a perfectly flat golden tummy and skin that glistens is just too much. There are about 3 people in the world that actually look like that.
I’m so glad you wrote this. I’ve been tossing up ideas all afternoon. But wound up tossing them out instead.
Love your work.
Haha! I agree and just wrote similar on Andrea’s blog Fox in Flats. If she had leaked it I’d be super impressed. But she didn’t.
My daughter is now 8 and as she gets older I am getting crankier and crankier… I DO NOT want her ever to not love her beautiful body… how can skinny models STILL be on catwalks and in magazines, after all these years??
Who buys that rubbish??? Gah…
I don’t actually think it’s entirely fair to lay the blame for smoke and mirrors at a model’s feet – or face – or stretch marks.
Everyone knows magazine images are not real, well, everyone over say, 20 years old does. The images are not real, even these models who are genetically blessed, and smart at their trade, get airbrushed and have their features tweaked.
So that means as consumers, women know they are being sold a lie, but still willingly buy into that lie. AND worse, they willingly allow themselves to feel less than. Harsh? Perhaps. But I think it’s true.
That’s something everyone needs to take responsibility for.
I think the thing coming her Cindy’s ear is an earring – it might even be one of those ones that start at the top of the ear!
I think the comments are all good and valid but I do think that if it was “leaked” then it is an invasion of Cindy’s privacy. It would be like having a rough draft of your work given to the publisher and released for public scrutiny. Regardless of what our personal opinions might be of the unrealistic standards of beauty it should be Cindy’s choice to release a “realistic” image of herself, should she choose to. Personally I think she looks great but it’s what she thinks that matters.
Yep, I felt the same as you. This is just another revealed lie. And it’s tiring. I mean, how far will they go? Will they keep going until she’s 73 and they’re photoshopping 40 years off her? Will they be putting her boobs back on her chest and giving her a virtual facelift? How far from reality are they willing to go? Seriously, at this rate, I could be a model. I mean, I don’t even need to look like me because they’d photoshop me to look like an android anyway. What even is the point of models?
This is such an intelligent insightful piece Bianca. I couldn’t agree more.
I hear you, I do, but I don’t think she’s to blame. She was just doing her job and making a living. She lives in a world in which photoshopping is normal and accepted (I do NOT agree with it, I’m just saying) and she went with the default position. It would take a crazy strong person to stand up to that. She’s just a model. She’s not a superwoman. She’s just a model doing her job.
What we need is systematic change in the industry. But we can’t expect it to come from the ones who have been inculcated into a lifetime of believing their looks are all that matter.
So totally agree with you!!
I totally agree with you. It just didn’t sit right with me either – I mean technically she has been complicit her whole career in selling this unattainable air-brushed ideal to insecure women.
Great post Bianca.