As a budding dermatologist, I am always conscious of men and women’s expectations of beauty, particularly as they age. And despite the fact that we are living longer and feeling younger longer – not to mention all of the advances in dermatology and anti-aging medicine – the fact remains that we are unsatisfied with our appearances, maintaining a $10 billion cosmetic surgery industry, even in the midst of a recession.
This 2010 Newsweek slideshow of the greatest airbrushing scandals of the past decade really astonished me. Although I am not one to blame the media for most behaviors, I do think that exposure to perfectly retouched images of celebrities puts unnatural standards on American women. For instance, take the pictures of Jessica Alba from Newsweek, shown above. She is certainly beautiful before, toned and healthy, realistic. After, she is almost unattainably stunning: a perfect meld of runway-skinny model legs and torso, blessed with pinup curves in exactly – and only – the right places.
Another photo that really shocked me from Newsweekwas the photo of Madonna above. Before, the 51-year-old mother of three is beautiful, elegant, and stunning. But after, the woman is positively ageless, and couldn’t pass for more than 30.
If Hollywood celebrities, blessed with access to the best nutritionists, chefs, trainers, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and stylists, cannot even look as good as themselves in photos, then how can we expect to do so? While true beauty comes from within, we are tend to seek out beautiful role models. With that said, it is a lot healthier – and more attainable – to look at beautiful women we know in person or at old photos of models/actresses from before the airbrushing days (like Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, or Carole Lombard) for inspiration, rather than airbrushed perfection. Because, truth be told, if we all achieved the ability to look like celebrities in airbrushed photos all the time, we would look like Heidi Montag (before and after shots here).
Truth be told, although this post is not in my usual style, I am simply appalled by the extent to which celebrities are airbrushed and the unrealistic expectations many patients now have as a result. I hope sharing this Newsweek slideshow encourages other women to be kinder to their faces and bodies – and to look to more realistic role models in the future.