Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Write Club: In support of air-brushing

It isn't very often that my opinion seems to buck the trend. Most of the time I agree with the common consensus. For example, 'yes, its sad that Michael Jackson had died', 'yes, the rioting in Western China sounds horrific', 'yes, the transport to and from Wembley Stadium is appalling' and so on.
But every now and then I try hard to phase out the voice of the so-called 'moral majority' and go out on a limb, listening to my own nagging inner voice. As you will be able to guess from the title of today's post, I am not about to go all controversial and exclaim that the American voting public made a terrible mistake in electing President Obama (although, I believe his polls are down, so maybe some do hold that opinion, I for one, don't). No, I want to talk about my support of the air-brushing of models, celebrities and the like for the purposes of advertising and selling newspapers and glossy magazines. Newsweek way back in 2008 did not agree with me.
Week on week a new record with a heavy advertising campaign is released by a Pop star, a new product is endorsed by a TV actor in gorgeous colour print, or pictures are plastered all over the internet and the tabloids of so-and-so frolicking on a beach in *insert sun-drenched white beach location of your choice*. I read the news (and when I say I read the news, in this instance I mean I look at the pictures of the aforesaid frolicking celebs) and I love looking at these photos. Sometimes though, I can feel a little inadequate. We all ask ourselves, where are the stretch marks, frown lines, cellulite, wobbly bits, muffin tops, protruding veins or fat rolls (unless of course you're looking at pictures of Beth Ditto who makes a living out of bucking the moral majority)? This can't be real....
Honestly, I do not want to see the 'stars' looking run down, wobbly or anything less than perfect. I like seeing them like that. It is part of what makes them seem special and heroic and beautiful. If I wanted to see what people look like in reality then I can step outside my front door. I know that the world is made up of those with varying states of beauty, and I am also fully aware that what I might find particularly attractive (male hairy chests, for example) may not be everyone's cup of tea. But I believe that there is a generic form of perfection and beauty that we all agree on, and I want those people on the stage and screen to remain ethereal, unattainable and unique.
I do agree that having 6 year olds wanting to retouch their photos is not a good thing at all, and the last thing I want to do is to write something which suggests that I am in support of body dysmorphic disorders or that I wish to prolong any genuine unhappiness felt by those looking at images of perfection and finding themselves physically wanting in comparison. 
But, my point of view comes from a secret, and that secret is knowledge. I know that imperfection is there, lurking in every photo. It's just that such imperfection has been eradicated by a clever person using a clever computer program. I am happy in the knowledge that the use of air-brushing means that even with personal trainers, horrific diets, plastic surgery and stylists at their disposal, the rich and famous still need a helping hand in creating a 'special' impression. These people are stuck in gilded cages of their own making for us to gawp at, for as long as fame and interest allows them. So instead of letting this depress me, I let this empower me. Long live air-brushing, let's all do it. Then eventually our children will realise that all these pictures must be faked and they can continue to goggle at the bewitching beauty, safe in the knowledge that underneath, we're all the same.
(picture courtesy of

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