Last night I watched a documentary presented by the British singer Alesha Dixon called "Look but Don't Touch." Alesha was addressing airbrushing, a technique that magazine editors use to retouch photographs to remove flaws, and even change the body shape of the model or celebrity. As Alesha is considered to be a celebrity, she is used to having her photos retouched. Alesha was questioning whether airbrushing is a good thing.
Alesha approached several glossy magazines to ask them if they were prepared to do a feature where her photographs would not be retouched. While she was waiting for magazines to get back to her, Alesha did an experiment. She had her photos taken. Then three out of four of them were airbrushed i.e. one with bigger boobs, one with lighter skin etc. Then readers were asked to vote for their favourites. The least favourite was the photo that had not been airbrushed. In other words, the readers prefered Alesha touched up than Alesha with flaws.
One magazine finally decided to take up Alesha's challenge about doing a spread without airbrushing. They even did a big poster of her with just the usual makeup and no airbrushing. She asked some women what they thought of the billboard photo. The ones interviewed said she still looked beautiful. It is possible there were other women who didn't like the photograph but their views weren't taken into consideration as that would have been going against Alesha's agenda.
I believe the point Alesha was trying to get across was that the media are selling readers false images that do not represent how real women are. Girls and women who embrace these images end up having low-self esteem because they are tying to live up to an unrealistic expectation.
While I accept and appreciate Alesha's perspective, I don't agree with her.
Let's get back to basics. Why do editors feel the need to airbrush photographs? Some might argue that they want their models to look perfect just like the products they are promoting. Let's take it to another level. How do the editors know what is perfect? Where does that idea of perfection come from? I believe it's because even though the dominant paradigm accepts aging and imperfection as the norm, deep inside these editors know that signs of imperfection, aging and decay are not natural. If they can't get perfection from their models, the editors will recreate perfection according to their vision of perfection. It is the same reason why readers buy into these perfect images because they know deep inside that they are meant to be perfect. If that wasn't the case, the beauty business wouldn't be such a booming industry.
Those who argue that editors are being unrealistic in the way they portray models are only saying that because they've embraced aging and imperfection as the norm. After all, we are only humans with one foot in the grave. So why not show us all the wrinkles, warts and all on the cover pages, after all that's what it means to be humans, right?
I give lots of cred to those beauty magazine editors who have a vision of beauty. It doesn't matter if it's their idea of perfection it's the intention that counts. I for one like flicking through glossy magazines from time to time. I love looking at beautiful and perfect models, beautiful clothes, shoes and jewellery not because it makes me want to have what they have but it stirs in me what I am, Beauty. It's the same reason why I love looking at beautiful flowers, paintings and ornaments I love. For me, looking at magazines or whatever I consider beautiful is rather like visualising or having a vision board. When I continue focusing on that vision, it comes to life and I become exactly like the vision.
Incidentally, I watched a religious programme the other day where people were being healed through prayer. Several people gave testimonies about how their scars had been removed. As I see it, scars removed by the power of prayer is no different from what magazine editors are doing with their computers.
I believe the ultimate kind of airbrushing is airbrushing one's beliefs and thoughts about imperfection, sickness, aging and death by focusing only on what I believe is my true nature. As Paul in the Bible puts it:
"8": Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
"9": Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4
Do I believe in airbrushing? Of course I do. I believe in letting the True Self erase all beliefs that do not reflect my True Self's vision.
I am Beauty.
Related articles: Practise Makes Perfect; Do My Boobs Look Big in This?; Make-up Tips; Drop Dead Gorgeous!; Surrender to Love - Revisited; Beauty From the Inside Out; Forever Young; On Perfection; Aging is Unnatural; My Vision