Wimbledon has just finished and the tennis was amazing. Congratulations to the champions; they provided us with some exceptional moments. Unfortunately Serena Williams exited the Singles Tournament far too soon. Still, we were able to enjoy her powerful style of tennis and understand why she arguably may be the best female tennis player of all time.
Just before Wimbledon, Serena also made headlines when she appeared on the cover of Fitness Magazine modeling a swimsuit. Make no mistake, she looked fabulous; but the woman on the magazine cover did not look the same as the incredible athlete we were watching play power tennis. For some reason, Fitness Magazine, of all magazines, apparently felt it was necessary to “Photoshop” Serena down to a more idealized size. The woman on their cover looked to be down-sized by a third from the real Serena. What's up with that? If Serena isn't the best example of female fitness just as she is, then I don't know who would be.
Fitness Magazine isn't the only member of the media to employ computer “tricks” to the images they portray. Everyone is doing it. Every month we see an idealized, cinched-in photo of Oprah on her magazine cover that bears little resemblance to the voluptuous, real and mature woman we so admire.
Recently, many retailers like Target have come under fire for using editing techniques to slim down the inner thighs of models so that their legs do not meet at the top. Sometimes the editing can be so blatant that they created a crotch line not found in nature.
IF THEY HAVE TO DOWN-SIZE SERENA WILLIAMS, WHAT HOPE DO WE HAVE?
Virtually every image you see in fashion magazines, catalogs, on-line and on television has been enhanced in some way.
Adobe Photoshop and many other similar editing programs are incredibly useful. They get rid of unwanted shadows. They enhance color. They get rid of the red eyes that used to plague your photos. Under-eye dark circles and facial blemishes can be eliminated. You have probably used it on your own photos at home. You can count on it having been used on Heidi Klum and every other model (super or not) in the world. On many levels there is nothing wrong with that.
Even the folks at Curvy Couture edit their on-line photos. They want to make sure you see their product line in the best possible light. Reasonable...right? They smooth textures, eliminate blemishes and take out the stray curl or two. Be assured, they strive to maintain the actual size and shape of their models. Why wouldn’t they? They have created beautiful lingerie for real women who want to enhance their figures not hide them or disguise them. They definitely don't want to remake their customer to some idealized smaller version of themselves. What you see at Curvy Couture is definitely what you get.
And that's the point. There's nothing wrong with appreciating a beautiful image. But why can't it be a little more realistic? If they have to down-size Serena Williams, one of the most fit, powerful and beautiful women on the planet; what hope do we have? The fact is that most of us do have thighs that meet at the top. What is wrong with that? It's the unreality of the images we see on a daily basis that make it harder for our daughters, granddaughters and ourselves to keep our own self-image positive. Maybe it's time we stopped being silent and spoke up about the unrealistic images we are confronted with on a daily basis and ask that the retailers and magazine editors use a little self restraint in producing the visuals we see.
After all, every woman is beautiful ... even without Photoshop.