Airbrushed models send girls the wrong message

By Dina Khatib Online Observations

Warning: do not expect to pick up a magazine to see a real, natural face on the cover. Due to a new trend sweeping the media, fake, plastic-looking, wrinkle- and blemish-free faces are gracing magazine covers with the help of so much airbrushing that the individuals look borderline alien.

Rather than embracing the beauty of human flaws, the media is now exclusively promoting perfection. Pick up the latest issue of Vogue or Elle magazine, and the airbrushed models will be the first thing that stands out.

The editing does not end with perfecting people’s faces and skin. In addition to the airbrushing effect, a new movement involves digital touch-ups and even removing parts of people’s bodies to make them look thinner.

A perfect example of Photoshop gone bad is the December 2009 cover of W magazine, which features actress Demi Moore and what appears to be a portion of her hip digitally removed from the picture.

The picture is insulting and degrading to women all across the world. If Demi Moore, one of the most fit and beautiful 47-year-olds, does not look good enough to appear as she is on a magazine cover, women all across the world will feel insecure. It is hypocritical that magazines keep publishing articles about looking good at every age when they don’t even embrace the natural beauty that comes with the many different stages of life.

After a Ralph Lauren advertisement featuring model Filippa Hamilton was released in October, the public was shocked by the heavily disfigured image in the advertisement, which showed an exceptionally emaciated woman whose head appeared much larger than her hips.

After much public outrage, Ralph Lauren quickly removed the ad, blaming it on poor retouching, but by then, it was too late. Hamilton publically spoke to Today’s Ann Curry on Oct. 14 and shared her story about how she was fired the previous April from Ralph Lauren for being too fat at a size four and 120 pounds. The designer denied such allegations.

Hamilton’s body mass index (BMI) is only about 17.2, placing her in the underweight category, yet she is not thin enough to model for Ralph Lauren. Women cannot expect to look in a mirror with confidence and embrace the image they see when the media is doing nothing but promoting skeletal women who look so slender and weak that they might just faint any minute.

In this day and age, models are getting thinner and thinner with each new release of Vogue. Curvy models like Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell are almost extinct, and waiflike, stick-sized models are the newest craze. Every other week, magazines print articles about celebrities who slimmed down four sizes in just two weeks, or celebrities who bounced back four to six weeks after giving birth, and are skinnier than ever before.
While such articles are sometimes published to inspire people to lose weight, magazines either do not understand the repercussions of printing such articles, or they simply value magazine sales more than providing healthy living habits. Drastic weight loss in just a few weeks is by no means healthy, and who knows how many diet pills the celebrity took or how much she starved to get to her desired weight.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, nearly 10 million females in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder, more than 90 percent of whom are aged 12 to 25. If the media continues promoting unhealthy bodies and magazine and advertising agencies continue editing models’ appearances, who knows at what rate this percentage will rise.

Bring back the pictures of real people with healthy bodies and imperfect faces. Beauty is often found in the simplest forms, so why go through all of the hassle and effort needed to airbrush and digitally alter appearances? Trends come and go, and as of right now, the trend of unattainable perfection is so last season, so stop appearing in magazines and ads, and please, don’t plan on making a comeback anytime soon.