I was recently poking around on the interwebs when I came across a photo series of celebrities. It was the usual "here's what they 'really' look like" photoset, comparing studio photos for magazines/ads/etc to random at-the-beach photos of the same celebrities (unsurprisingly, all women). What struck me about this was that - in an unusual divergence from the mass media's tendency to encourage self-hatred - there were no captions declaring the "faults" visible in the at-the-beach photos.
For me, the take-home message was: "See what special lights, photoshop, body make-up, and weeks of prep for the photo shoot create?" None of this was a mind-blowing revelation, but sometimes it takes a visual tool to underscore what I already, intellectually, know.
In my 1000+ hours of clinical work as a student midwife, I've seen a lot of female bodies. Do you want to know what all of them had in common?
They looked human.
Seriously. Not one woman had plastic-smooth skin, perfectly symmetrical features, or anatomically incorrect proportions. Even women who have had some sort of "work" done still look humanly flawed.
Perfection lies in our imperfections. They are part of what make each person unique!
In the wild, we are diverse, we are textured, we are beautiful.
This morning, I came across this article by a personal trainer showing how easy it is to fake "before and after" photos. My favorite part? His closing remark:
"We all spend too much time sucking in our guts, trying to look the way we think society thinks we should. Don’t waste any more energy trying to compete with everyone else."
Wouldn't it be awesome if we all embraced our bodies just as they are? Even if you're working on a particular health or fitness goal, it doesn't mean that your body is "wrong" until you reach that goal! If we sucked in our guts a bit less, maybe more people would appreciate that human bellies are not designed to be concave. Heck, no creature has a concave belly! Those 6-pack abs on the cover of fitness magazines are one-offs, the product of photo-shoot prep such as diuretics, short-term starvation, recent exercises to get a "pump" just before the shoot and, of course, the awkward contraction for the pose in addition to the professional photographic voodoo magic. Even the strongest, leanest bellies are slightly concurve when the abdominal wall is not contracted.
In order to truly appreciate the diversity of the human form, individual people must be willing to demonstrate, acknowledge, and appreciate accurate portrayals.
So here's to the human body, in all its un-photoshopped glory!