Cynthia Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour, has decided to take a stand against the impingement of obsessive retouching in the world of beauty and fashion. Her magazine has pledged that it won't be putting models on a digital diet or enhancing their curves. Remove pimples? Probably. Lightening shadows or enhancing colors? More than likely. But this fits within the framework of what women consider understandable retouching in a business now dominated by computer technology.
In their study of 1,000 readers Glamour found that 60 percent of women feel it's OK to retouch personal photos, but they feel uneasy about the media doing it unless it's for simple, obvious flaws like a pimple or a wrinkled blouse. In fact three out of four women feel that it's not OK to alter one's natural curves, birth marks or unique characteristics.
The problem with retouching an image is that we become our own worst enemies. Page after page we wind ourselves up to believe that the images we see are the objective that must be achieved, but unless our beauty bags are filled with the same magic as Mary Poppins' carpet bag, I doubt any of us will ever accomplish the sort of physical allure we are wickedly teased into believing we must attain. It's clear that the pursuit of perfection has become far more important, and a much bigger money-maker, than the pursuit of beauty. After all, as women we buy "beauty" products to try to recreate the fairytale flawlessness we are convinced others value more than our natural selves. However, each time we make this attempt we are left feeling disappointed by our imperfect bodies. In truth, the only thing that is certain is that none of us is perfect.
Rather than attempting perfection on a daily basis, rather than setting up that standard, Ms. Leive emphasizes that beauty is what we should strive for, not perfection. She states:
Retouching has its limits -- or should -- and Glamour plans to take a stronger role in setting ours. You told us you don't want little things like freckles and scars removed, and we agree; those are the kinds of details that make each woman on the planet unique and beautiful. And while our policy has always been not to alter a woman's body shape, we'll also be asking photographers we hire not to manipulate body size in the photos we commission, even if a celebrity or model requests a digital diet (alas, it happens).
Retouching is the chronic illness caught in pursuit for visual supremacy, but the quest for beauty is a long respected journey traveled by many lovers of art, fashion and by those who find a woman's body to be a muse of harmony in our lives, not something that must be manipulated and sculpted like digital clay. Can we really believe that a digital body is better than a real one?
Surely we haven't lost touch with the charm found in our freckles, our scars or the wrinkles around our eyes which are the medallion of our acquired wisdom?
Beauty isn't shrink wrapped and sold for $24.99. It has nothing to with this season's color of choice or last season's high heels. It is immune to trends. Beauty has to do with the personal, outward expression of intimate beauty. Now that is something a beauty magazine should be supporting.