I've said it once and I'll say it a thousand times: Photoshop is destroying our perception of beauty. Sure, we all want to look better and it's perfectly natural to want to hide your flaws. But what passes as beauty these days is essentially make believe. The message that sends to women, young and old, is one of constant failure. We want to look like the women in the glossy magazines, but even those women don't look like themselves. So, really, what hope is there?
Well, for once, glossy magazines are coming to our rescue. Elle France has released a “Stars Without Makeup” editions featuring unadorned, unaltered European female stars. No (well, very little) makeup. No Photoshop. No retouching. The results are amazing. The three alternate covers featuring Monica Bellucci, Eva Herzigova and Sophie Marceau are portraits in beauty – real beauty. The kind of beauty you see when a woman wakes up in the warm morning light or comes out of the shower fresh and smelling only of skin. You know, the good stuff.
Sure, let's not kid ourselves, these women are all ridiculously gorgeous to begin with. So they're working with a definite advantage already. But this celebration of women and, even if only for one issue, recognition of the artificial beauty trap we find ourselves in is refreshing. Besides the cover models, the issue also includes pictures of Charlotte Rampling, Inès de la Fressange, Anne Parillaud, Karin Viard and Chiara Mastroianni shot by Peter Lindbergh. Good God, I'm so excited to see Charlotte Rampling's portrait I might just buy a ticket to France and so I can pick up a copy of the magazine myself.
To love women is to love the sum of her parts, all of them – even the imperfect ones. That we've come to a point where it's brave or shocking or daring even to show women looking natural is a sad commentary on culture. It's not brave or shocking or daring. It's what women look like – beautiful.