i’ve spent some blogging time of late checking out shakesville’s excellent “impossibly beautiful” series, which examines the ridiculous amount of retouching applied to photographs of famous women, especially on magazine covers. it began with the dove “evolution” video and went on to include some of the more well-known examples of excessive retouching, such as the extreme thinning of normally-sized actress america ferrera, the enboobening of stick-skinny keira knightly (“those things certainly weren’t mine . . . i don’t have any tits,” quoth keira), and perhaps the most (in)famous, faith hill’s redbook cover. go look at the whole series at shakesville; you’ll never walk past the magazine shelves at the supermarket in the same way.
so, when i saw the cover of the current issue of “entertainment weekly,” featuring the generally normal-appearing tina fey, i was understandably annoyed:
okay, seriously, her wrist looks like you could snap it in half. seriously.
i then began flipping through the cache of all ew’s covers from previous issues, and started plucking out the worst examples of the “photoshopping the life out of some of the entertainment industry’s most successful women” phenomenon. i was particularly incensed by the unabashedly different treatment give to the women in the photographs as opposed to the men. i ended up going back three full years, to april 15th, 2005. below, i present the worst of the bunch for your consideration.
june 10th, 2005
to start, let’s contrast russell crowe’s undereye bags, “crow’s feet” eye-corner wrinkles, and deep laugh lines (we in medical school call ’em “nasolabial folds”) to renee zellweger’s perfectly porcelain visage. i guess the five-year age difference between 36-year-old renee and 41-year old russell really makes a difference, looks-wise, huh?
november 25th, 2005
here’s the same situation again: reese witherspoon doesn’t have a line on her, while joaquin phoenix sports a wrinkly forehead, undereye bags, and even some blemishes! except that reese is 29, and joaquin is 31. hmm. (see shakesville for pictures of a beautiful, normal-looking reese.)
march 2nd, 2007
whoa, 41-year-old kiefer sutherland is totally channeling clint eastwood with his craggy visage. clearly he hasn’t been retouched! maybe this means that next week’s cover girl, jennifer hudson, will also get a more realistic treatment . . .
march 9th, 2007
oh, just kidding. instead, we have jennifer looking preternaturally smooth! now, this is not to say that jennifer necessarily has wrinkles, as she’s still quite young at 26, but rather that 1) come on, she has NO PORES and 2) go find a mirror and just TRY pursing your lips like you’re gonna kiss someone WITHOUT creating any lines on your face. it’s not happening. by the way, the thinly veiled blowjob imagery doesn’t help this cover either.
september 17th, 2007:
wow, 40-year-old kate walsh’s face is perfectly wrinkle-free. but that can’t be right, since in person she clearly looks like a normal, beautiful, three-dimensional 40-year-old woman:
so, i think we can all agree that kate’s photo was massively retouched for her e.w. cover. so, surely when kate’s male co-star appears on the cover next month, they’ll retouch him in the same way, right?
october 19th, 2007
huh, that’s weird. kate’s “mcdreamy” co-star patrick dempsey (who, at 41, is essentially the same age) looks totally normal. check out his crow’s feet, and the nasolabial folds that show he’s actually smiling. so clearly he wasn’t photoshopped to the same extent that kate was. how odd!
november 16th, 2007
in this stylized cover, compare the flawless, wide-awake eyes of katherine heigl to the baggy, darkened, wrinkly peepers of conan o’brien and steve carrel. again, i know katherine’s a lot younger (29) than her male counterparts (44 and 45, respectively), but as we’ve seen time and time again, no woman of ANY age is permitted to have bags/wrinkles/etc.; so why are conan and steve allowed to have them???
december 21st, 2007
one final odd couple: porcelain, surreal julia roberts with wrinkly, baggy, scarred tom hanks.
so, i guess the closest thing to a moral for this story would be . . . the next time somebody tries to tell you that men have to deal with just as many unhealthy stereotypes about their appearances as women do . . . just walk them over to the magazine aisle.