NOTE: I'm posting some old stuff until I'm back in September - Enjoy! Or ignore! Whatever!
My first job out of college was in marketing for a very large, very
french, very hip cosmetic company. Many
people are fascinated by my past life and want to know how to get a job
there. But there are always the people who
want to know if I feel guilty because I was promoting unattainable
standards of beauty. They want to know if I felt personally
responsible for the lack of self-esteem in today's young women.
No I didn't and I still don't.
In fact, I LOVE the beautiful advertisements in women's magazines.
It was uplifting to come to work every morning and be surrounded by
posters of gorgeous faces. Really! We would ooh and aah every time a
beautiful ad was unveiled. It was cool. And I never compared myself
to those images. I did compare myself to the models pre-airbrushing.
I mean they're still gorgeous, but they get pimples and cellulite, just
like us. Really.
To me, these ads are works of art, not a to do list. It has been
said before, but it bears repeating: PEOPLE DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT. I
love the Cindy Crawford quote "“Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy
Crawford.” No model or starlet does. I saw it for myself. Photoshop
and airbrush artists are amazing. Also, most of the models are 14.
I'll never forget the first time I saw and ad pre-completion. It was
for an eye cream. The model was 14 and gorgeous. She had a huge smile
in the ad, and I thought it was beautiful. Then a few weeks later I
saw the real finished product. The huge smile was still there,
but you know those lines you get under your eyes when you smile? (Yes
you do. We all get them. The Boy gets them, and he's not even one.)
They were gone. The shadows under her eyes were gone as well. It was
freaky. I mean, the girl was 14, and she was selling eye cream to 40
year-olds! It felt weird, but I was an idealistic 19 year old at the
I quickly grew to appreciate the images for what they are. They're
aspirational images meant to be beautiful and illustrate a fantasy. I
still like them, although I can see how people who haven't been exposed
to the inner workings of the advertising industry could be misled.
Photoshop isn't going away anytime soon (and thank God for that! I
just airbrushed a booger out of The Boy's nose in a photo for the
grandparents.) Enjoy the photos in ads and magazine covers, they can
be breathtaking. Just do it with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Here's a link
to a website that illustrates just what can be done to a photo of a
real person (and a pretty one at that.) You'd think they're
exaggerating, but the photo looks like any picture on the cover of
Maxim or Cosmo. (For the record, I think those are tacky as all hell.
I prefer the airbrush artistry of Vogue or Vanity Fair. But that's just me.)