Recently, this article has been doing the rounds: http://www.takepart.com/feature/2014/05/15/famous-paintings-photoshopped-to-look-like-fashion-models. It shows women in famous paintings, photoshopped to be the same size that fashion models are today. It’s sad, and it’s poignant, and most of all, it’s infuriating. How has the idea of beauty become so warped?
Well, there’s a simple answer to that. Money. $$$. Capitalism. The main difference between those famous paintings and the fashion editorials we see is that the famous paintings aren’t selling anything. What’s the easiest way to sell someone something? Make them think they need it. Make them think everyone else has it. These gorgeous thin models look wonderful in these clothes, and different from you, so you should buy the clothes, and the gym membership, and the expensive diet shakes, and the epilators, and the razors and the home waxing kits and the hair bleach and the diet books so that you can look like them.
Fashion spreads want us to want to change. Those paintings see the beauty that is there.
I can honestly say, a trip to the art museum has never made me feel fat. Never made me peer at myself in the mirror, never made me squidge bits of myself thinking how soft is too soft? An afternoon reading any women’s magazine does. Why? Cos they’re adverts. And it is disgusting.
There’s big money to be made telling women (and men, but to a lesser extent) that they’re undesirable. And now, with the magic of PhotoShop, no cosmetic, fashion, diet or fitness brand need ever go out of business, because PhotoShop will be there to make the models’ legs longer, breasts perkier, stomachs flatter and eyes larger.
However aware we are of it, we do become influenced by what we see. By what is held up as beautiful and desirable. It’s a sick industry, fuelling itself off insecurity. I know it’s bullshit, but whenever I see photographs of thin women with impossible figures eating cakes in women’s magazines, a tiny pathetic part of myself buys it, and I feel like I am unattractive. I feel a little more likely to buy that lipstick, or that dress that will make me look thin. Making women feel awful = making money in the fashion and cosmetics industry. And I feel awful for knowing a part of me can’t help but be vulnerable to it.
Next time I feel that way, I’m taking my sweet ass to the art gallery.