Fake or not, months later I am still thinking about the supposed unairbrushed photo of Cindy Crawford that was leaked. Of course this is not the first “real” photo of a Hollywood beauty that has received attention but the contrast between the fake verses real was startling to say the least. It really made me think about how many of the photos we look at in media is just plain bogus and how it affects our body image.
Sorry folks, this blog isn’t going to be lighthearted or funny because I am pissed.
So here it goes. As you can imagine, I regularly see clients in my Sex Therapy practice who struggle with body image. Body image no doubt affects the sex drive and sexual satisfaction of many women and sometimes men as well. As a feminist, promoter of positive sex and sexuality, and one who appreciates a beautiful woman, I truly struggle with this. I enjoy wearing sexy heels, getting dolled up, and looking at fit bodies like Cindy Crawford’s but I don’t want that to box in my sexual desires and what I find visually pleasing. Ageism and unrealistic expectations of the female body in our society has become so pervasive and shaming that sometimes we don’t know where our own sexual turn-ons and desires begin and where those that have been put upon us by media begin.
I don’t think I am alone when I say that I experience mixed emotions about this topic. Of course I was happy to have the opportunity to be reminded of what a real woman looks like. Of course we need to see images like this from women we idolize. So, yes I was happy to see a woman in her true form, but I was also surprised, sad, confused, angry, and frustrated; frustrated that I was surprised. Surprised that a 48 year old woman would have wrinkles and an imperfect stomach? What the F—?! Of course, this is what average – REAL 48 year old women look like!
Then when I looked at it in comparison to the magazine publication that’s when sadness, confusion, and anger kicked in. It put a spot light on how starkly different the images we see in media and advertising are from reality. It is sad that “real” pictures that haven’t been perfected by photoshop or airbrushing are so significantly different from modified pictures. It made me realize how along with so many women I struggle on a daily basis with unrealistic and impossible expectations of the female body. Do we even know what a healthy normal naked woman at our age looks like? At what point did we begin to expect that women should have no wrinkles or cellulite at age 48? At what point did we start comparing ourselves to women who have surgery, liposuction, personal chefs, personal trainers, professional photographers, and graphic artists to modify their images? It’s time for us to open our eyes, quit bullshitting ourselves and accept the female body for what it is – HUMAN.
Wow. I wish I had some solutions for you today. I would love to hear some of yours – please comment.
Now go have sex!