Two body-image issues have come up on my radar in the past 24 hours that I can’t ignore. First is Jezebel’s excellent expose (like we didn’t already know) of the extent to which images already very pretty women are digitally altered. Their exhibit is a pirated proof shot of Faith Hill, before the image was “cleaned up” for the cover of Redbook. I don’t know anything about Ms. Hill or her music, but every time I’ve seen a photo of her, I’ve admired how pretty she is. She has a warm smile, a nice figure, she seems to have a very happy family, etc. Below is the “raw” photo (the numbers were added by Jezebel editors to correspond with areas that were altered):

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Pretty! Maybe she could use some light airbrushing to take care of the unflattering light and to even out her skin tone. Also, her feet are a little dirty. But the editors took it a few steps further:

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Wow! She’s suddenly much thinner and younger! No wonder eating disorders are on the rise and Botox sales are booming. It reminds me of a flap several years ago when Kate Winslet was photographed wearing a corset/bodysuit and high heels for some magazine. She’s a slim/curvy girl, yet they photoshopped her thighs to about the girth of her upper arms. Funny thing is, they forgot to retouch her reflection in the mirror behind her. She was, understandably, furious that the magazine would run such a dishonest image of her and made them print the original in the next issue, in which she still looked great.

The other funny/sad thing is the interview with Jessica Simpson in next month’s Harper’s Bazaar. In it, she says typically dumb things (Willie Nelson had her believing that the song “Crazy” was originally called “Stupid”), but then made a surprisingly sharp observation about women and body image. She was making the stock statements about how she’s a curvy girl and comfortable with not being a stick figure, then said women who are obsessed with being thin are more concerned with impressing/intimidating other women than attracting men. I was nodding in agreement, until I read the next quote, where she said she feels best about herself when she’s dressed up to attract men. How did American women get so messed up? We’re either obsessed with one-upping other women or snaring a man–I admit guilt on both counts at one point or another. And, as Jessica Simpson pointed out, those two goals often seem mutually exclusive. Sad. Maybe someday we can reach a point when neither of those things is the goal, but I’m not holding my breath.

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