The Fashionista is in — Photoshopped beauty?

As Britney’s pre-edited photos are released, the question of real vs. fake beauty comes into play.

Britney, before and after Photoshop. PHOTO COURTESY CANDIES

Britney, before and after Photoshop. PHOTO COURTESY CANDIES

Last week, my favorite pop star on Earth, the legendary Britney Jean Spears, did something almost unheard of in our plasticine American culture. No, donâÄôt fret âÄì she didnâÄôt shave her head again, nor did she flash her vagina to the world. She, or perhaps Team Britney Spears, released the un-retouched versions of her recent CandieâÄôs swimwear shoot. Un-retouched photos of Jessica AlbaâÄôs Campari ad were leaked in 2008, so the whole âÄúcelebrities without PhotoshopâÄù deal isnâÄôt novel. However, it may just be ushering in a trend in both Hollywood and fashion that makes me question the industry and the many complaints against its superficiality. First, letâÄôs look at the Britney before and after. In the âÄúbeforeâÄù picture, on the right, Britney looks great. She looks trim, athletic and toned. In the âÄúafter,âÄù Photoshoppers have slimmed her waistline and hips rather dramatically, fiddled with her kneecaps and yes, deleted that pesky semi-camel toe. Which picture looks better to you? In the second set, âÄúbeforeâÄù Britney is peeking over her shoulder a la Betty Grable. You might not be able to see it in black and white, but she has a little cellulite on the back of her legs. Big deal, all chicks have cellulite in some form or another. In the âÄúafterâÄù photo, she looks as though sheâÄôs been stretched out vertically to appear slimmer and taller. Bruises have been erased from her legs (makes sense) and her butt got shrunk. Both versions of Britney are gorgeous. SheâÄôs not as young as she used to be and sheâÄôs had two kids and a rough couple years. Even if it wasnâÄôt Britney who was behind the release of the un-retouched pictures but rather someone in her camp, I think itâÄôs a pretty brave move for her to make. So, what do I think of Photoshop culture and the whole controversy over fashion models being too thin? IâÄôve voiced my opinion on this in a few classes. Generally, whenever we talk about advertising in a journalism class, some girl raises the issue of skinny models and perfect bodies in beauty ads and fashion spreads. Inevitably, sheâÄôll say something like, âÄúThis gives girls an unrealistic expectation of what their own bodies should look like and men think that all women should look like the girls in magazines.âÄù OK, so that nameless girl might have a point. Sure, the constant pressure to be thin and beautiful at all times does weigh on the young female population. All well and true, but I take major issues with those who think the fashion industry needs a model overhaul. DoveâÄôs âÄúCampaign for Real BeautyâÄù a few years ago prominently featured regular women with regular bodies in attempt to make a statement about global beauty. Cool, whatever; real women buy lotion and soap, so hawking to them by using people who look similar is understandable. But even though these women were curvier than the usual models, theyâÄôd been Photoshopped. Their skin had been smoothed, unsightly blemishes removed, etc. ThereâÄôs always a man with an airbrush behind the curtain. The whole effort strikes me as slightly patronizing. Fashion and beauty are forms of escapism, and assuming consumers canâÄôt find the line between art and reality is insulting. Editorials are a break from real life, where we canâÄôt afford $500 highlights and couture clothes while hanging with Anna WintourâÄôs social circle. Nobody wants to see their mother in a campaign for Yves Saint-Laurent, unless their mom looks like Christy Turlington. ThereâÄôs an appeal and an imaginative factor to the youthful, coltish model. (Perhaps the models are a bit too young; Karlie Kloss is only 17 and sheâÄôs the face of Dior. I do think thatâÄôs a tad ridiculous.) We donâÄôt want to see birthmarks, wrinkles or visible pores. A beauty product has to promise something, be it shiny nails or healthy, glowing skin. Taking away the imperfections of âÄúreal lifeâÄù is why they work, and I firmly believe they should stay that way. What do you guys think? IâÄôd like to know. Send me an email with your thoughts.