Invisible Women Over 40: Anti-Aging and Symbolic Annihilation

If you lived on another planet and everything you knew about humans came from mainstream media, you’d be absolutely shocked to find out a couple of facts:

Female humans do not die or crawl into caves to disappear at age 40 while male humans live much longer, active lives.

As female humans age, they tend to develop lines on their faces where facial movements occur, as well as looser skin, darker spots from the sun, gray or white hair, and other features that distinguish them from teenagers as they progress throughout their lifetimes. This is NOT only true for men.

Thankfully, most people have the ability to see a variety of females face-to-face to disprove those laughable media myths of  women disappearing with age or perpetual teenage faces and bodies. Unfortunately, that ability to see reality hasn’t put a dent in the anti-aging industries that sell extreme appearance anxiety for record profits each year. But still, that’s what we want to focus on here: reality. Most notably, we want to emphasize how shockingly different reality looks from the ever-present and powerful media world, and how that impacts real, aging people. Once we recognize the effects of the anti-female-aging phenomenon that what we’re buying into by the billions, we can fight back. 

One of several awesome graphs from Vulture. See the rest by clicking the image.

From local or national nightly news to children’s cartoons, people over 40 are drastically underrepresented in all forms of media, despite the fact that they make up the majority of the population. A whopping 62 percent of the female population of the U.S. is over 40. But get this: Older men appear as much as 10 times more frequently than older women in media (1). Even when film depictions of relationships feature older men, their girlfriends and wives are most often decades younger (for more evidence, see this cool piece on how leading men age, but their ladies do not, including graphs documenting age differences). We could probably call this the Liam Neeson/Olivia Wilde phenomenon (see right side of graph). Men in all forms of media are featured well into their 70s while women tend to start becoming invisible in media right around age 40. Academics even have a name for this egregious level of under-representation: symbolic annihilation. Unfortunately, the effects of that annihilation on women’s  body image, feelings of self-worth and bank accounts aren’t so “symbolic.”

With an extremely low number of women over 40 represented in media at all, the WAY they’re represented becomes especially important. And once again, the news isn’t good. Headline #1: Older Women are Portrayed in Negative Ways Much More Often than Men. Think of the wise, funny, intelligent, “sexy” image represented by men in media well into their 50s, 60s and even later – Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood – it isn’t hard to think of a list of examples from past or present. Trying to come up with female equivalents is much more difficult. It’s rare to think of really positive portrayals of women over 40 – NOT the neurotic, crazy, evil, out-of-touch-with-reality characters that are most prominent. Betty White is one notable exception to this rule, as a truly funny, relatable, positive character in her many roles who isn’t simply the butt of jokes or the domineering mother-in-law.

Studies show the vast majority of any older mom, grandma, aunt, boss, teacher, queen or extraneous female character over 40 in any media fits a negative stereotype (2). And that sucks. The largest segment of the population is not seeing themselves represented, and when they do, it’s in negative ways*. What’s more, that information is only about white women. We don’t have any accurate information about how older women from other races are represented. Why? Because there aren’t enough examples to generate any significant findings. One study examined 835 TV characters and found only four African American characters over the age of 60. I’m no math whiz, but 4 out of 835 is a sad statistic. Interestingly, the most popular older woman of color in media happens to be played by a 42-year-old black man, Tyler Perry, as the much-loved “Madea.”

Vogue’s “Age Issue,” where perfectly normal signs of aging are not welcomed!

But aside from the monster oversight in under-representing and misrepresenting older women, mainstream media knows exactly what it is doing when it comes to that huge, money-packing demographic. Excellent business decision #1: Convince women their value entirely depends on their appearance, and that aging is the worst thing that could happen to their appearance. And don’t forget, older women are THE WORST – gross cougars, not hot, totally out of touch with the real world, neurotic … OR age-defying wonders! Then, convince them it’s possible to entirely stop aging and look 15 years younger with these products. Since people over age 50 own 70 percent of the total net worth of American households (4), targeting this powerful demographic is a strategic move — especially considering that women over 40 influence 80 percent of the purchasing decisions in the U.S. (5). I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the age-old “fountain of youth,” which has long been fabled to stop the aging process entirely, has been discovered! It’s being marketed and sold to women in the U.S. and raking in billions for several different industries each year. You can see it in countless magazines, billboards, commercials, TV shows or movies – you know, the 50+ year-old women with zero signs of aging. No lines or wrinkles, tight skin all over, no signs of silver hair sparkling through their thick, flowing brunette and blonde heads of hair. We rarely see an older woman in media, but when we do, she generally fits that description. These women have obviously partaken of the fountain of youth, but what did the trick?! We’ve discovered it!

Media’s totally normal-appearing ageless older women are the product of two tricks: cosmetic procedures and digital alteration. Whether we like it or not, we start to look different as we age. For men, those changes are most often** depicted as looking “distinguished” and aren’t something for men to be ashamed of. For women, those changes are to be immediately stopped, reversed and hidden at all costs. Seriously, ALL costs – financially, time-wise and health-wise. Because you’re worth it.

Let’s talk about Botox, baby. Plastic surgery is the most profitable industry in the U.S., and Botox is the No. 1 cosmetic treatment. Several million people have Botulinum Toxin injected into their facial muscles in order to paralyze them and conceal the appearance of wrinkles, which must be repeated every 3-6 months. About 92 percent of those who get Botox are women. The next most popular procedures were all also for “anti-aging,” including soft tissue fillers, hyaluronic acid and chemical peels.

While watching “The Bachelorette” a few years ago  (I know, I know, not the greatest choice), my beautiful, 27-year-old friend proclaimed that she had “the forehead of a 90-year-old woman.” What prompted that (extremely untrue) declaration? Emily, the beautiful bachelorette, who is our same age, has a perfectly smooth, line-less face. So does every other woman on TV, in movies or in magazines. Lineless and expression-free starts to look normal and ideal, while real-life, expression-ful(?) faces look abnormal and sub-par. Yikes. That’s why, in just the last 15 or so years, there has been a 446 percent increase in cosmetic procedures in the U.S., which raked in $12 billion in 2010 alone. The American Academy of Plastic Surgeons called laser de-wrinkling procedures “recession proof.” It’s a little startling that in the toughest economic times in decades, women are still sacrificing thousands of dollars for painful and temporary procedures to prevent the appearance of aging.

That brings us to the other fountain of youth trick: Digital Alteration. If a woman isn’t outrageously gorgeous, thin and young-looking for her age, she’s almost always either Photoshopped to look that way or is completely invisible in mainstream media. This DOES have an effect. These pervasive, nearly inescapably and strikingly consistent images of young-looking older women create not just a new ideal for female beauty, but a new normal for us.

Our Photoshop Phoniness Hall of Shame sheds some light on the extreme abnormality of those images by pairing before-and-after alteration shots. A couple of epic age-defying examples are Faith Hill on the cover of Redbook and Twiggy in Olay’s eye cream ads.

Faith Hill on the July 2007 Redbook cover. Right arm? Suddenly appeared on the cover. Left arm? Cut down by at least 1/3 of its original size. Wrinkles, normal complexion or any other signs of life on her face? Erased. Back? Sliced out almost entirely. Enough said.

 

A 2009 Oil of Olay eye cream ad featuring Twiggy — one of the world’s biggest modeling/fashion icons for more than a decade, now she’s relegated to the unglamorous realm of photoshopping disasters for beauty industries lies. Straight-up lies. Amazingly, this ad was banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog after more than 700 complaints were gathered for a campaign against airbrushing in ads by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson. The ad was deemed to be misleading. Um … yep!

These aren’t two freak accidents — these are daily deliberate decisions by media powerholders who profit from female anxiety about our faces and bodies. Keep in mind that Olay, the anti-aging skin care brand owned by Procter & Gamble, spent more than ANY OTHER COMPANY in the U.S. on advertising in 2011. That’s more than any company in any industry. They and many other companies claim to sell the keys to the fountain of youth at every drug store in the nation, but the only real solution to aging lies in the hands of their photo editors. Ever noticed the stark difference in the way men’s faces are portrayed compared to women’s faces in mass media — whether it’s the cover of GQ or a Chanel ad? Here’s an extremely telling example we pieced together, featuring about as comparable of a pairing as you could ever find: similar age, both major celebrities, both in ads for the same company from the same year. Just one major difference: one is a human face and one is a cartoon.

Wonder why you never see women with gray hair featured positively in any sort of mainstream media? Because gray hair doesn’t make anyone any money. A very telling example from the must-read “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf is of a fashion magazine in the ’90s that featured a spread of beautiful gray-haired older women in all the latest fashions. Despite positive feedback from readers, one of the magazine’s main advertisers, Clairol, threatened to pull all its advertising support if gray-haired women were ever featured positively again. Thus, no gray-haired women are ever featured positively in any magazine that depends on beauty advertising dollars (hint: all of them).

One scary fact is that those great lengths women are going to in order to achieve a youthful ideal are not limited to surgical procedures and magic creams — they also include disordered eating of all types. Our friend Michelle Konstantinovsky at HelloGiggles reported on a study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, which found that in their sample of 1,900 women 50 and older, more than 60 percent of women said their body weight or shape negatively affected their lives and 13 percent admitted to having an eating disorder. We agree with Michelle in saying “duh” to the “surprising” new finding that older women also suffer from disordered eating.

But enough with the depressing stuff already. Let’s get to some solutions!

What can be done to break these body image issues? Importantly but not surprisingly, the researcher agrees with everything we preach at Beauty Redefined: The lead researcher’s main solution is to help women get themselves out of this “appearance focus.” She recommends instead of looking for flaws, women work on focusing on something positive about themselves — a characteristic that will endure long after their looks fade. Easier said than done, right? We can help you start with this list of totally doable strategies, including going on a media fast, complimenting others on more than their looks, shutting down negative thoughts, and many more. Please choose even just one, and start right now to change the way you perceive your own face and body. This isn’t an individual fight with individual effects. The way we feel about ourselves and treat our bodies has real influence on those around us, even if we aren’t aware of it.

Please consider your influence on the reality of the girls, women, boys and men in your life.

What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all-over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? How could simply owning (and treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness? We say yes.

Yes, maybe every 30- to 80-year-old woman on TV or movies has a wrinkle-free, perfectly stiff and lifted face that appears ageless. The pressure to Photoshop ourselves into hopeful conformity with beauty ideals is intense, and backlash against female aging is unbelievable. At 29, I frankly don’t yet grasp the real pain and anxiety that accompanies aging and its effects on female faces and bodies that become invisible and worthless in some ways to a society that prizes youthful beauty above all else. But at any age, embracing your own beautiful reality and owning it for the others in your life is the epitome of redefining beauty. Media will continue to symbolically annihilate women who don’t fit money-making beauty ideals, but WE do not have to annihilate our own faces and bodies to fit those unreal standards. What we COULD annihilate is our allegiance to the idea that women have to look young forever, and that women who don’t look young forever aren’t worthwhile or beautiful. I promise that will be much more empowering and less painful. Let the anti-anti-aging annihilation begin!

Need more help developing body image resilience that can help you overcome your self-consciousness and be more powerful than ever before? Learn how to recognize harmful ideals, redefine beauty and health, and resist what holds you back from happiness, health, and real empowerment with the Beauty Redefined Body Image Program for girls and women 14+. It is an online, anonymous therapeutic tool that can change your life, designed by Lexie & Lindsay Kite, with PhDs in body image and media.
 
Sources:
1) Peterson, 1973; Harwood, 2007; T. Robinson & Anderson, 2006; Raman, Harwood, Weis, Anderson, & Miller, 2006; Stern and Mastro, 2004; Miller et al., 2007
2) Signorielli, 2004
3) Harwood and Anderson, 2002
4) L. Davis, 2002, cited in Harwood, 2007
5) Invisible Women, 2010
6) U.S. Plastic Surgery Statistics, April 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/22/plastic-surgery-medicine#zoomed-picture 
 

*There’s a wonderful organization called Invisible Women that is working to fight against the under-representation and misrepresentation of older women in media through a documentary and education outreach.

**This may start to change as media capitalize on sparking men’s insecurities as well as women’s – but it’s rare. Key example: Those men’s hair color commercials with the little girls convincing Dad to dye his hair and beard in order to get back in the dating game. Ugh. We don’t endorse this tactic. Evening the playing field by bringing down both men and women with body shame and appearance focus helps no one.

Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds

Photoshopping, digital alteration, image manipulation, blah blah blah. Everyone talks about the fact that so many images of women are “perfected” with the help of technology, but we can’t just toss it aside as a non-issue everyone already knows about. Whether or not a person is aware of the possibility of image alterations, not everyone realizes exactly HOW MUCH these images are changed to fit some seriously un-human and unrealistic ideals that we view over and over. And not everyone understands that it isn’t just fashion magazine covers that feature drastically Photoshopped images. It’s TV. It’s video. It’s your favorite brand online. It’s everywhere.

While the vast majority of images of women are being digitally altered, so are our perceptions of normal, healthy, beautiful and attainable.

A before-and-after image from Britney Spears’ 2013 “Work B****” music video obtained by the Daily Mail, which shows the digital slim-down Britney’s body received via CGI.

One of the main strategies used to reinforce and normalize a distorted idea of “average” is media’s representation of women as extremely thin (meaning much thinner than the actual population or what is physically possible for the vast majority of women) – either by consistent use of models and actresses that are underweight or extremely thin, or by making the models and actresses fit their idea of ideal thinness and beauty through digital manipulation both on screen through computer-generated imagery (CGI — shown in the Britney Spears music video example) and in print media. Essentially, “the feminine ideal is tanned, healthy slenderness, with no unsightly bumps, bulges or cellulite, and bodily and facial perfection that results from hours of labor: exercise, makeup and hair care” (Coward, 1985) – and 30 years later, plastic surgery and Photoshop. This unrealistic form is consistently represented across almost all media forms, along with blemish-free, wrinkle-free, and even pore-free skin, thanks to the wonders of digital manipulation as an “industry standard” that is openly endorsed and defended by magazine editors and media makers the world over.

Though we hear about digital manipulation controversies all the time (check out our Photoshopping Phoniness Hall of Shame for tons of examples), media executives and producers continue to use it to an unbelievable extent and they violently defend it as a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Here are a couple interesting (and appalling) case studies from Seventeen and Self magazines to showcase this very issue:

The Feb. 2014 cover of Seventeen, featuring Troian Bellisario

The February 2014 cover of Seventeen featured “Pretty Little Liars” star Troian Bellisario, who opened up about her past problems with an eating disorder. The teen magazine decided to feature that as a teaser on the cover, right above a much larger headline for “Get an Insane Body — It’s hard, but you’ll look hot!” This juxtaposition of providing an outlet for a young actress to open up to young fans about a disorder that “ripped her life apart” next to a story promoting the thin ideals that drive many girls and women to such extremes in eating is appallingly irresponsible. Read more about our thoughts on Seventeen here.

When superstar singer Kelly Clarkson was digitally slimmed down almost beyond recognition on Self’s September 2009 cover, people noticed. Her appearance on “Good Morning America” within just days of the cover shoot proved that her body did not look anything like the very thin one that appeared on the cover. In a shockingly ironic twist, the issue she appeared on was titled “The Body Confidence Issue” and featured an interview inside where she explained how comfortable she felt with her body:

“My happy weight changes,” Clarkson says in the September issue of SELF. “Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more. I’ll be different sizes all the time. When people talk about my weight, I’m like, ‘You seem to have a problem with it; I don’t. I’m fine!’ I’ve never felt uncomfortable on the red carpet or anything.” 

Kelly Clarkson before and after Photoshop on Self magazine, Sept. 2009

Rather than apologizing for the seriously unethical and extreme Photoshopping snafu, Self editor Lucy Danziger tried to defend her magazine’s work to the death:

“Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images. Photoshopping is an industry standard,” she stated. “Kelly Clarkson exudes confidence, and is a great role model for women of all sizes and stages of their life. She works out and is strong and healthy, and our picture shows her confidence and beauty. She literally glows from within. That is the feeling we’d all want to have. We love this cover and we love Kelly Clarkson.”

Interestingly, Danziger wasn’t satisfied with that statement and felt inspired to take to her personal blog to further rationalize away the Photoshopping hack job:

“Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best…But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand.”

It’s hard to believe anyone’s “personal best” is a fake representation of herself. They’ll plaster “body confidence!” all over the magazine and quote Kelly talking about her own real body confidence, but they refuse to show us her actual body.

Target’s March 2014 Photoshop hack job to the JUNIOR’s swim line is unreal.

This is just one example that happened to generate enough media coverage that people were able to find out about the scary distortion of an active, 27-year-old superstar’s body in media. Unfortunately, this case study is pretty representative of thousands more that appear in magazines, on billboards, in advertisements, in stores and everywhere else you can think of every single day. At Beauty Redefined, we’ve termed this phenomenon “the normalization of abnormal.” Since we’ll see millions more images of women in media than we’ll ever see face-to-face, those images form a new standard for not just “beautiful,” but also “average” and “healthy” in our minds. When women compare themselves to a standard of beautiful, average and healthy that simply doesn’t exist in real life, the battle for healthy body image is already lost. Last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced they’ve adopted a policy against “false advertising:”

The AMA adopted a new policy to encourage advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

Dr. McAneny of the AMA states, “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.” And yet, in the last year, Photoshopping has reached an all-time high. It is inescapable.

From lost self-esteem, lost money and time spent fixing “flaws” and a well-documented preoccupation with losing weight (NEDA, 2010), the effects of these unreal ideals hurt everyone. We know that advertising – especially for fashion or beauty products – depends on two things: 1) girls and women believing their happiness, health, and ability to be loved is dependent on their appearance, and 2) girls and women believing can achieve physical ideals by using certain products or services. Do we really understand that ALL media (with very few exceptions) depends on advertising dollars to operate? Because of that, the editorial content or programming has to uphold those same ideals or else advertisers aren’t happy. Digitally slimming women’s bodies, adding or exaggerating a “thigh gap,” and removing signs of life like pores, gray hairs, and wrinkles aren’t just casual decisions based on aesthetic preferences of a few editors — they are profit-driven decisions to create false ideals for females to seek after in hopes of someday attaining. These hopes are largely driven by desire to be found attractive, loved, appear healthy, and ultimately, happy.

Same model, differing degrees of Photoshopping on REAL printed ads, Oct. 2009. Ralph Lauren responded: “After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”

One telling example from the ‘90s (found in Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth”) explains how a prominent women’s magazine featured gray-haired models in a fashion spread (unheard of even today, right?). It was a success until one of their biggest advertisers, Clairol hair color company, pulled their entire campaign as a protest against the spread. The magazine, which depended on those advertising dollars, was forced to never again feature gray-haired women in a positive light. The same holds true for media today. Pay attention to what kind of companies are advertising in your favorite magazines or during your favorite TV shows. There’s a very good chance they are selling beauty products, weight loss products or other appearance-related services, which means the female characters featured positively (like in relationships or pursued by men, complimented, not the butt of jokes, etc.) will likely resemble the idealized women in the advertising.

From media outlets like that go to great lengths to make unrealistic and unattainable beauty ideals look normal and within reach, to the diet and weight loss industry raking in an estimated $61 billion on Americans’ quest for thinness in 2010 (Marketdata Enterprises, 2009), those with financial interests at stake in our beliefs about women’s bodies are thriving unlike ever before. Simultaneously, women and families are losing. Losing self-esteem. Losing time and money spent on items, services and products meant to fix our never-ending list of “flaws.” Losing real understandings of healthy, average and attainable. Sometimes even losing weight they didn’t need to lose in dangerous ways in order to measure up (or down) to Photoshopped ideals we see every day as “normal.”

Former high fashion model, Crystal Renn, battled a deadly eating disorder for many years before deciding to switch to “plus size” modeling for health purposes. Photographer and Fashion for Passion founder Nicholas Routzen said that Crystal looked thinner because the photos were “…taken from a higher angle with a wider lens,” but that“I shaped her … I did nothing that I wouldn’t do to anyone. I’m paid to make women look beautiful.”

While representations of women’s bodies across the media spectrum have shrunk dramatically in the last three decades, rates of eating disorders have skyrocketed – tripling for college-age women from the late ‘80s to 1993 and rising since then to 4% suffering with bulimia (National Eating Disorder Association, 2010). Perhaps even more startling is the 119 percent increase in the number of children under age 12 hospitalized due to an eating disorder between 1999 and 2006, the vast majority of whom were girls (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010). Though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000) reports that “no exact cause of eating disorders have yet been found,” they do admit that some characteristics have been shown to influence the development of the illnesses, which include low self-esteem, fear of becoming fat and being in an environment where weight and thinness were emphasized – all of which are shown to be related to media depictions of idealized bodies, which is all but inescapable. Scholars have proposed that eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are due, in part, to an extreme commitment to attaining the cultural body ideal as portrayed in media.

Photoshopping has taken these unreal ideals to a scary new level. Henry Farid, a Dartmouth professor of computer science who specializes in digital forensics and photo manipulation, agrees. “The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They’re creating things that are physically impossible,” he told ABC News in August 2009. “We’re seeing really radical digital plastic surgery. It’s moving towards the Barbie doll model of what a woman should look like — big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck. All the body fat is removed, all the wrinkles are removed, the skin is smoothed out.”

What we see in media, and what we may be internalizing as normal or beautiful, is anything but normal or beautiful. It’s fake. It’s a profit-driven idea of normal and beautiful that women will spend their lives trying to achieve and men will spend their lives trying to find. But until we all learn to recognize and reject these harmful messages about what it means to look like a woman, we all lose. And I don’t want to lose. Are you with us in taking back beauty for females everywhere?

Recognize that you are not just a body. Recognize that your body is not just an ornament or an object to be fixed and judged — it is an instrument to live and do and be. Reject messages that teach you otherwise. Cancel subscriptions, unfollow on social media, spend your money elsewhere, talk back to companies and speak up in your own circles of influence. Your reflection does not define your worth, and self-comparisons to unreal ideals get us absolutely nowhere. These ideals are unlikely to change anytime soon, so we have to change our perceptions of media and bodies with or without media.

Need more help developing body image resilience that can help you overcome your self-consciousness and be more powerful than ever before? Learn how to recognize harmful ideals, redefine beauty and health, and resist what holds you back from happiness, health, and real empowerment with the Beauty Redefined Body Image Program for girls and women 14+. It is an online, anonymous therapeutic tool that can change your life, designed by Lexie & Lindsay Kite, with PhDs in body image and media.

For the largest and most detailed collection of Photoshopping Phoniness on the Web, see our Hall of Shame Gallery!

And have you seen our new sticky notes to slap on magazines in the store aisle? They’re soooo good. Find them here

Where Do You Draw the Line? In Beauty, What Enhances and What Oppresses?

One of the most important and popular issues Lexie and I write and speak about is the idea of “physically Photoshopping ourselves out of reality” by changing our appearances to fit profit-driven beauty ideals. Because of this unique aspect of our work, we get asked regularly what is acceptable regarding beauty — is makeup OK? Is hair dye appropriate? What about leg-shaving or Botox or breast augmentation or manicures? When people see pictures of us or come to a speaking engagement, they see that we do, in fact, wear makeup and shave our legs. We make conscious decisions regarding our beauty routines and have been careful to take inventory of the things that do or do not serve us, which includes foregoing aspects of those routines when we feel it is necessary.

Taking inventory of our own beauty-related choices is crucial in a world that generates new “flaws” for women every week. Insufficient eyelashes? Unsightly underarms? Too-pale skin? Too-dark skin? The list is endless. Consciously answering this question for yourself is an extremely useful exercise. You can take inventory in your own mind, with no one to answer to but yourself. We ask that you do not use this a platform for blaming, shaming or hating on anyone else.

  • Could anything be taken out of your routine? Is anything unnecessary?
  • Do you rely too heavily on any aspect of your beauty routine to look like or feel like “yourself?”
  • Is there anything you especially enjoy or appreciate about your beauty routine? 
  • What standards have you set (or would you like to set) for your own appearance-related routines and choices?
  • Where do (or could) you draw the line between what is “physically Photoshopping yourself out of reality” and what is appropriate for you?
  • Are there any future options for physical “enhancement” or cosmetic procedures that you plan to forego in order to be an example of a more beautiful reality?

Critically and consciously answering these questions for yourself is particularly necessary as we go through major body changes, like having babies, or gaining and losing weight. Aging in today’s mediated world brings a set of beauty expectations unmatched in history. Pressure to prevent and erase any signs of aging is a cultural expectation force-fed to us by media at every turn. Olay, the anti-aging skin care brand owned by Procter & Gamble, spent more than ANY OTHER COMPANY in the U.S. on advertising in 2011. That’s more than any company in any industry. They spent $357 million, up 8% from 2010, and led P&G to its massive total revenue of $82.6 billion that year*.

A 2009 Oil of Olay eye cream ad featuring then-59-year-old Twiggy — one of the world’s biggest modeling/fashion icons for more than a decade.

Olay’s misleading (a.k.a. lie-filled) advertising bombards us with ageless, wrinkle-free, pore-free, glowing “older” women who have been freed from the ugliness of aging by the company’s magic creams. The UK’s advertising watchdog was smart enough to pull Olay’s ads for being “misleading,” including this eye cream ad featuring Twiggy, after hundreds of complaints were gathered by Democrat MP Jo Swinson in 2009. Amazing! Obviously, Olay isn’t alone in this anti-aging lie crusade, but their new title as #1 advertising spender in all categories makes them a useful and familiar example.

Getting older isn’t the only thing that puts a woman at risk for feeling pressure to physically photoshop herself out of reality. Procedures and products that were unthinkable just a decade or two ago are now so commonplace that they start to feel like a full-on expectation for women of all ages. Whether it’s eyelash-growing, cellulite-lasering, chemical hair-straightening or makeup-tattooing, our expensive, painful and risky “beauty” options are endless. Plastic surgery is the most profitable industry in the U.S., and Botox is the No. 1 cosmetic treatment, with patients getting younger and younger. In just the last decade, there has been a 446 percent increase in cosmetic procedures in the U.S., which raked in $12 billion in 2010 alone.

But what about totally taken-for-granted ways we physically photoshop ourselves every day? Where do you draw the line between what is acceptable, appropriate and harmless and what is oppressive and harmful? From makeup and tanning to hair weaves and regular manicures, what everyday beauty choices do we make without even thinking twice? Since Lexie and I get asked so regularly about why we wear makeup or how we maintain a balance between enjoying some aspects of beauty and fashion, I’m offering a variation of the response we usually give as a way to provide context for your own thoughts.

I respond somewhere along these lines:

It’s an important issue that each woman really has to confront for herself regarding where to draw the line between what’s oppressive, harmful, “physically Photoshopping,” etc., and what is acceptable, comfortable and appropriate. Lexie and I both wear makeup (although quite minimal generally) and enjoy fashion and shopping. We shave our legs, pluck our eyebrows and love clothes/jewelry shopping. For both of us, those commonplace routines fit in with our paradigms of what is appropriate — though we both readily acknowledge the double-standard that exists between male and female expectations.

I think there are two important points of this issue I’ve considered:

The reality we’ve grown up in and are surrounded by, where makeup and leg-shaving is a routine and unquestioned expectation. I started both in 7th grade and it became part of my regular routine. In many ways, that choice to wear makeup is influenced by cultural pressures like looking put-together and well-kempt (which unfortunately affects opportunities for speaking engagements and media appearances in some cases) and even attracting dating partners. I readily acknowledge that I am influenced by that pressure. However, to make sure I’m not relying on makeup to make me look like “myself” or letting it stop me from going out in public, I often go makeup-free to places like the gym, the pool, and shopping just to keep myself in check. I skip wearing eyeliner regularly to  make sure I’m not relying on it. I stopped highlighting my hair more than a year ago because I realized I don’t need to have light blonde hair in order to be myself or feel good. In that vein, I do consider my role in physically Photoshopping myself and what influence that has on others. Every guy I’ve dated and friend I’ve ever had has seen me with no makeup and looking pretty dang real on a regular basis, and my future children will see my own reality more than anyone as I try to set that example for them.

I posted our sticky notes all over NYC, including this Broadway theater vanity mirror.

The other thing I’ve strongly considered on this issue is the “if beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong” slogan that we’ve used frequently. For me, I do avoid the beauty routines and procedures that hurt me. I use that as a measure by which to judge any appearance-related options. The makeup I wear and the other beauty routines I engage in do not hurt me, so they don’t cross that mental line I’ve drawn. For some, my line might be way too strict, and for others it will be way too far into oppressive patriarchal forces territory. For now, I’m comfortable with my own choices, but I’m fully in support of anyone who chooses to forego beauty routines and expectations in their own lives! I also don’t blame or shame anyone who makes choices that don’t reflect my own on the other end of the spectrum — like cosmetic surgery or other procedures. Our research shows women’s perceptions of their appearances, and the choices they make because of those perceptions, are heavily influenced by profit-driven beauty ideals and objectifying media that leads girls and women to self-objectify, or view themselves from an outsider’s perspective. We must consider these powerful influences on our own choices, as well as how those forces inevitably influence others’ choices.

Not everyone is going to agree with where I draw the line or my reasoning,and that’s OK. We don’t need to approve of each other’s choices or police any one else’s personal beauty routines. That’s not helpful. What is helpful is having an open discussion with ourselves or even our loved ones about our own individual choices. These are important questions every woman must consider, and we have to do it in advance of increasing pressures (with age and beauty “innovations” becoming more commonplace and expected in some circles) in order to be prepared with our own solid stance on how to avoid physically Photoshopping ourselves out of reality. Again, I’ll pose these questions for your own personal consideration:

  • Could anything be taken out of your routine? Is anything unnecessary?
  • Do you rely too heavily on any aspect of your beauty routine to look like or feel like “yourself?”
  • Is there anything you especially enjoy or appreciate about your beauty routine? 
  • What standards have you set (or would you like to set) for your own appearance-related routines and choices?
  • Where do (or could) you draw the line between what is “physically photoshopping yourself out of reality” and what is appropriate for you?
  • Are there any future options for physical “enhancement” or cosmetic procedures that you plan to forego in order to be an example of a more beautiful reality?

For further insight into this topic, please read these important pieces:

The Case of the Disappearing Women Over 40

Physically Photoshopping Ourselves Out of Reality

More than a Body? PROVE IT.

You Had a Baby? THIS is How You Get Your Body Back

* Source: http://adage.com/article/datacenter-advertising-spending/100-leading-national-advertisers/234882/

Physically Photoshopping Ourselves Out of Reality

When the digital world of female faces and bodies looks nothing like the natural world, is it any wonder that women have turned to physical alteration to meet the unreal standards? The possibility of achieving unnatural ideals through enhancements, procedures and products is a game-changer for what women today are capable of looking like. But what about their daughters, students and coworkers? What will their own  “flawed” forms look like in comparison to that manipulated reality? With our own game-changing suggestions, we see an opportunity for a much more beautiful future.

You’ve heard about the epidemic of digital manipulation across media. Photoshopping, or other forms of image manipulation, is now an all-out media industry standard according to the likes of women’s magazine editors across the country (one of the most dangerous offenders). Plus, more than 60 percent of girls today admit to Photoshopping their OWN photos on their social networks. But this isn’t just a problem with print images.  This is a problem with our own self-images and our own actual appearances. Henry Farid, a Dartmouth Professor who specializes in digital forensics, put it quite succinctly: “The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They’re creating things that are physically impossible. We’re seeing really radical digital plastic surgery…big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck. All the body fat is removed, all the wrinkles are removed, the skin is smoothed out.” But you don’t have to be a professor to see this impossibly high bar being raised higher by the minute.

These billions of images of women in media far outnumber the females we could ever see eye to eye, and that reinforces a distorted idea of what we should like. Not even just what it takes to be the most desirable or beautiful – but what a regular, normal, average woman looks like. And we act out these distorted ideals of normal and attainable in very real ways – in our daily beauty endeavors and our beauty plans. Some of these examples may seem like a bit of a stretch, but consider them as strategies we use to take the unreal ideals we see in a lifetime of media use and impose them upon our own bodies to try to attain the reality we see mediated to us. Some of these examples may be part of your life or your plans for your life and others may not, but all of them represent the ways we quite literally physically “Photoshop” ourselves out of reality:

  • Cosmetic surgery: breast augmentation, liposuction, body contouring, lifts, tucks
  • Botox
  • Diet Pills
  • Tanning or skin lightening
  • Collagen facial fillers and lip injections
  • Lash extensions and prescriptions
  • Pore minimizing makeup and skin care
  • Anti-aging creams, lotions, gels
  • Laser hair removal
  • Tattooed makeup
  • Anti-cellulite procedures
  • Teeth whitening

We can’t help but imagine how different our world looked just a decade or two ago – not just in terms of what women in media looked like when digital manipulation was only science fiction – but what women in real life looked like. Cosmetic surgery was nearly non-existent. In just the last decade, there was a 446 percent increase in cosmetic procedures (namely liposuction and breast enhancement) in the U.S., which raked in $12 billion in 2010 alone. Tanning beds were hard to find and extra pricey when found. Laser hair removal was non-existent. Tattooed makeup like eyeliner and lip liner was unheard of. Collagen lip injections and facial fillers hadn’t yet seen the light of day. Lash lengthening prescriptions weren’t conceived of, anti-cellulite procedures and gels weren’t on the market, teeth whitening wasn’t an everyday activity, pore-minimizing and anti-aging products were marketed by very few. Armpit beautifying lotion would have been laughable, as would butt-shaping shoes (especially for 8-year-old girls, but thankfully Skechers has filled that hole in the industry!).

Women inevitably looked different back then. Today, we see women presented to us all hours of the day in every form of media that do not look like women 20 years ago OR women you see face to face. And yet, over time, many of us come to hold ourselves to that unattainable standard that appears so normal and unquestioned as we physically Photoshop ourselves out of reality.

What does our world look like for little girls growing up today? What about for women growing older in a world that looks radically different than it did when they grew up? And how much pain, energy and time will they have to put into physically Photoshopping themselves out of reality? To be sure, it doesn’t come naturally. Each year, women put hundreds of billions of dollars into the latest procedures, products and prescriptions to try to reach that “bar” the wide world of media is raising.

But we raise that bar for ourselves and our daughters when we take part in our own physical Photoshopping. We raise that bar for females everywhere when we physically manipulate ourselves in attempts to meet a profit-driven standard that is inherently unattainable.

The line is different for every woman, and no woman should be shamed or blamed for how she chooses to enact “beauty.” We’re in this fight together! These messages telling us we are not worthy of love, happiness or success unless we are unattainably beautiful, thin, and sexually desirable are lies, but they are powerful. To the girls and women reading this: If beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong. (In the U.S., we got this statement on billboards as a much-needed reminder!) We grasp the reality of our beauty when we begin to see ourselves for what our beauty really entails, and not what industries would have us believe: scars from years of playing, freckles from the sun, wrinkles from smiling and laughing and living, cheerfulness in spite of trials, selflessness
when there are so many reasons to turn inward, musical gifts, the ability to solve math problems with ease, the ways we join together with other women instead of gossip and judge, the time and care we offer our families and friends, and the list goes on and on and on.

We are in the midst of a beautiful reality that is ours once we recognize it and grasp hold of it. And studies show that when we can learn to love ourselves – despite the beauty ideals we are surrounded by and cannot obtain – it shows! Recent studies show us that girls who don’t like their bodies or appreciate them – regardless of their actual appearance – become more sedentary over time and pay less attention to having a healthy diet. And that makes sense. If you think you’re gross and worthless, why would you take care of yourself?

On the flipside of that study, research has found that girls who feel good about themselves and respect their bodies – regardless of what they look like – are more likely to be physically active and eat healthy. They are less likely to gain unnecessary weight and they make healthy lifestyle choices far into the future. How we think about our bodies and our beauty has everything to do with how we treat ourselves. When we can learn to love and respect ourselves, regardless of how our bodies appear, it shows! We must learn this now and we must begin to teach the little girls in our lives how beautiful their realities are and can always be.

Here’s an outrageous idea: What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? Their own varied-looking and perfectly functional breasts, behinds, thighs, arms and abs? How could simply owning and (treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness? We say yes.

What if we stopped Photoshopping or altering our own photos to fit unreal ideals, including family portraits and even kids’ school photos, which are now sold in packages that include blemish removal and teeth whitening, among other manipulations of reality? What if we stopped imposing our current perceptions of beauty and flawlessness on our own families in this small way, and allowed pictures to capture what we really look like — even in those awkward adolescent years? Don’t we want our posterity to see our reality, instead of a manipulated version of what we thought we or our children should look like in order to be acceptable?

Yes, maybe all the other girls at school are getting the Photoshopped school photo package. And yes, maybe every 55-year-old woman on TV or movies has a wrinkle-free, perfectly injected and lifted face that appears ageless. But when I look at my own mom, who I’ve never doubted is incredibly beautiful, and I see her very real face with very natural smile lines, it makes me feel OK about the newly appearing creases around my own eyes. My first thought isn’t how unnatural and unacceptable those lines are and how quick I can start my first round of Botox. It’s that they’re OK. They’re normal. They don’t detract from me. They make me ME. 

My mom doesn’t need injections in her face to fix anything or make her more beautiful, and I don’t either. But if she ever decides to, I would understand. The pressure to Photoshop ourselves into hopeful conformity with beauty ideals is intense, and backlash against female aging is unbelievable. At 28, I frankly don’t yet grasp the real pain and anxiety that undoubtedly accompanies aging and its effects on female faces and bodies that become invisible and worthless in some ways to a society that prizes youthful beauty over all else.

But if my mom doesn’t succumb to the pressure to change her physical reality and, in turn, my own reality of what women’s faces and bodies can look like and should look like, I will be forever grateful. My own smile lines will show it. In turn, I will proudly show my future children, nieces, nephews, or students my un-altered middle school photos, bushy eyebrows and all. Let’s preserve our beautiful reality for ourselves and for the future generations (inlcuding those growing up today) who deserve to see what’s real, rather than the ideals we chose to embrace digitally and physically.

Need more help developing body image resilience that can help you overcome your self-consciousness and be more powerful than ever before? Learn how to recognize harmful ideals, redefine beauty and health, and resist what holds you back from happiness, health, and real empowerment with the Beauty Redefined Body Image Program for girls and women 14+. It is an online, anonymous therapeutic tool that can change your life, designed by Lexie & Lindsay Kite, with PhDs in body image and media.

Photoshop Phoniness: Hall of Shame

Photoshopping, digital alteration, image manipulation, blah blah blah. Everyone talks about the fact that so many images of women are “perfected” with the help of technology, but do we really understand how serious this issue is? Like exactly HOW MUCH these photos are manipulated to fit some seriously unrealistic ideals that we view constantly? And do we understand that it isn’t just fashion magazine covers that feature altered images? It’s everywhere.

While the vast majority of images of women are being digitally altered, so are our perceptions of normal, healthy, beautiful and attainable.

One of the main strategies used to reinforce and normalize a distorted idea of “average,” which sparks body anxiety when we don’t measure up, is media’s representation of women as extremely thin (meaning much thinner than the actual population or what is physically possible for the vast majority of women). This is done by consistent use of models and actresses that are extremely young and thin and by making the models and actresses fit their idea of ideal of youth and thinness and beauty through digital manipulation. This unrealistic form is consistently represented across almost all media forms, along with blemish-free, wrinkle-free, and even pore-free skin, thanks to the wonders of digital manipulation as an “industry standard” that is openly endorsed and defended by magazine editors and media executives the world over.

What we see in media, and what we may be internalizing as normal or beautiful, is anything but normal or beautiful. It’s fake. It’s a profit-driven idea of normal and beautiful that women will spend their lives trying to achieve and men will spend their lives trying to find. Until we all learn to recognize and reject these harmful messages about what it means to look like a woman, we all lose. And we don’t want to lose.

So here’s to taking back beauty — and the Photoshop phoniness that makes us crave seeing reality even more. Please help us spread the word about media manipulation by sharing these images on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your own blogs, and unite with women in grasping our beautiful realities! Need more help developing body image resilience that can help you overcome your self-consciousness and be more powerful than ever before? Learn how to recognize harmful ideals, redefine beauty and health, and resist what holds you back from happiness, health, and real empowerment with the Beauty Redefined Body Image Program for girls and women 14+. It is an online, anonymous therapeutic tool that can change your life, designed by Lexie & Lindsay Kite, with PhDs in body image and media.

Note: Some of these images are inappropriate for young or very conservative readers, or those seeking to avoid eating disorder triggers. We always take caution to exclude any truly explicit images, and never include nudity, but the occasional bikini does cause offense at times, even if the image demonstrates an important message. Please proceed with caution. 

Demi Lovato on the July 2012 Cosmo, discussing her battle with bulimia. Classy, Cosmo! Real classy

 

Sources say America Ferrara’s head was pasted onto another woman’s body for this phony Glamour cover.

 

This scary display of digital manipulation in action was caught on popular clothing store Ann Taylor’s website in August 2010, when the women behind the feminist website Jezebel discovered the “before” image (on the left, obviously) being displayed while the startlingly narrower “after” the image loaded. The already stunning model’s hips and thighs were shrunk to strikingly thin proportions, but her waist simply looks ridiculous. After Jezebel reported the glitch (and thank goodness for that!), Ann Taylor fixed it and sent an apology their way, saying, “We want to support and celebrate the natural beauty of women, and we apologize if, in the process of retouching, that was lost. We agree, we may have been overzealous on some retouching but [going] forward we’ll make sure to feature more real, beautiful images.” Unfortunately, Ann Taylor is a notorious repeat offender.

 

Faith Hill on the July 2007 Redbook cover. Right arm? Suddenly appeared on the cover. Left arm? Cut down by at least 1/3 of its original size. Wrinkles, normal complexion or any other signs of life on her face? Erased. Back? Sliced out almost entirely. Enough said.

 

Kate Winslet on the Jan. ’03 British GQ cover. Acclaimed actress Kate Winslet is notoriously beautiful and curvaceous, so it’s not surprising men’s magazine GQ would want to include her on their cover. What IS surprising is that they removed her curves entirely, leaving extremely thin legs that bear no resemblance to her own and a rightfully upset actress. She told Britain’s GMTV, “I don’t want people to think I was a hypocrite and had suddenly gone and lost 30 pounds, which is something I would never do, and more importantly, I don’t want to look like that! … They made my legs look quite a bit thinner. They also made me look about 6 feet tall, which I’m not – I’m 5 foot, 6 inches.”

 

Keira Knightley in the “King Arthur” movie promotional poster image. She goes from naturally thin and small-chested to a D cup in every promotion she’s featured in!

 

Same model, differing degrees of Photoshopping on REAL printed ads, Oct. 2009. Ralph Lauren responded: “After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”

 

Beyonce before and after Loreal’s digital manipulation. Beauty whitewashing is a startlingly widespread issue. Click the image for more information on the sad trend.

 

Former high fashion model, Crystal Renn, battled a deadly eating disorder for many years before deciding to switch to “plus size” modeling for health purposes. Photographer and Fashion for Passion founder Nicholas Routzen said that Crystal looked thinner because the photos were “…taken from a higher angle with a wider lens,” but tha t“I shaped her … I did nothing that I wouldn’t do to anyone. I’m paid to make women look beautiful.”

 

Mariah Carey on Elle Aug. 2008. Did Elle think no one would notice that Mariah Carey looked nothing like her real self?

 

Kourtney Kardashian, just 7 days after having her baby, is featured on the cover of January 2010′s OK Magazine. It looks as though she dropped her baby weight in one week! Interestingly enough, the Kardashians were advertising QuickTrim in this very issue.

 

We’re not big Britney fans, but we do think it’s pretty awesome that she let Candie’s release the before and after Photoshopping ads of her plastic-ized body!

 

Demi Moore on the cover of the Nov. 2009 “W” magazine. Her head appears to have been simply cut and pasted onto this model’s body.

 

Sofia Vergara’s arm appears to have been slimmed dramatically for this Pepsi “skinny can” ad. We are not supporters of this ridiculous ad tactic or the women-targeted “skinny can”!

 

When superstar singer Kelly Clarkson was digitally slimmed down almost beyond recognition on Self’s September 2009 cover, people noticed. Her appearance on “Good Morning America” within just days of the cover shoot proved that her body did not look anything like the very thin one that appeared on the cover. In a shockingly ironic twist, the issue she appeared on was titled “The Body Confidence Issue” and featured an interview inside where she explained how comfortable she felt with her body. Click the photo to read the rest of the twisted story, complete with shameless defense from Self’s editor.

 

Jessica Simpson on the Sept. 2008 Elle cover. The cover was shot in the same time period she was performing live. It is quite obvious Jessica was Photoshopped out of reality!

 

Kimoralee Simmons, past owner of the Baby Phat franchise, approved of this advertisement for one of her latest products. Kimoralee: mother, wife, business mogul, and…plastic doll?

 

The original photo retouching scandal! This is actually an illustration that looks much like photo, where Oprah’s head was drawn onto actress and singer Ann-Margret’s body for a 1989 TV Guide cover. Wow.

 

Gabourey Sidibe on Elle 2010. Even when the women are being recognized for something other than their beauty, like, say, an Oscar nomination for incredibly talented actress Gabourey Sidibe of “Precious,” magazines like Elle still feel the need to whitewash her in order to feature her image on the cover. Click the photo for more on the insidious trend of beauty whitewashing.

 

A 2009 Oil of Olay eye cream ad featuring Twiggy — one of the world’s biggest modeling/fashion icons for more than a decade, now she’s relegated to the unglamorous realm of photoshopping disasters for beauty industries lies. Straight-up lies. Amazingly, this ad was banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog after more than 700 complaints were gathered for a campaign against airbrushing in ads by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson. The ad was deemed to be misleading. Um … yep!

 

Tennis superstar Andy Roddick on the May 2007 Men’s Fitness. He said later: “I’m not as fit as the Men’s Fitness cover suggests…little did I know I have 22 inch guns and a disappearing birth mark on my right arm.” THANK YOU, Andy! We love the truth. Most often, these celebrities have absolutely nothing to do with the extreme alteration of their photos. Men are not immune to these ideals. Read more by clicking on the photo.

 

We don’t even need to show you a “before” pic to assure you Tina Fey had a ribcage both before and after this photoshoot for InStyle. We’re also missing the scar on her face and the proper placement of her head. It is likely Tina’s head was simply pasted onto another woman’s body, or at least misplaced on her own Photoshopped and slimmed body.

 

The UK fashion magazine Grazia admitted it dramatically slimmed down Duchess Kate Middleton on its May 2011 cover. As if that was even sort of necessary. Wow.

 

Kate Winslet is again the victim of a Photoshop hack job, this time by Harper’s Bazaar in their Nov. 2011 issue. Both of these photos were taken the same month!

 

Sarah Jessica Parker on the Aug. 2011 Vogue — wrinkle-free at age 46! We think not. We prefer to see a few signs of life on people, Vogue! No need for a cartoon version of an already beautiful woman.

 

Thank you to Elizabeth Fletcher of Union University in Tennessee for finding BR and designing this masterpiece to promote our cause through guerilla marketing in women’s restrooms! We’d like to recommend some online guerilla marketing by our beautiful supporters! Let’s see how many pins, shares, likes and blogs we can get for this powerful image! Ready?? Go!

For more information on how Photoshop Phoniness affects us, please read and share our research at these links:

Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds

Beauty Whitewashed: How White Ideals Exclude Women of Color

Physically Photoshopping Ourselves Out of Reality

Please join us in shedding some light on Photoshop Phoniness by slapping one of our sticky notes on that magazine in the doctor’s office or checkout stand, the sign in the mall or at the bus stop, or even on your own mirror to remind you that “there’s more to be than eye candy” or “you are capable of much more than being looked at!” Support this cause by purchasing these messages as sticky notes, posters, postcards or fliers. Now go show your beautiful reality to the world and look eye to eye to spot real beauty and in your own life!

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