Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have a hot topic trending: former supermodel Cindy Crawford’s un-retouched photo. In the picture, we can see that Cindy is not a perfect freak of nature, but rather a beautiful woman in her late 40s who has had two children. Her tummy and legs are not really as taut or ripple-free as we have been led to believe. But she looks stunning, sexy, and confident.
This picture, taken for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America magazine, was apparently leaked. Ms. Crawford has yet to comment on the photo or the leak, but the conversation continues nonetheless.
Which got me thinking–how many women have warped body images because we make the impossible comparison to retouched photos? With Photoshop, models become thinner, blemishes and wrinkles are erased, dents are smoothed, teeth are whitened, and the perfect Barbie doll version of a woman is deemed suitable for print. And many women look at these images and accept them as normal, which by definition makes everybody else—including themselves–inadequate.
I have never heard a woman say that she is happy with her body, that she looks great in clothes, or that she feels completely comfortable in a bathing suit. Many women can’t even accept a compliment without providing a devaluing response. “You look great today,” can inspire responses such as: “I feel so fat,” or, “My hair is dirty,” or, “It’s the Spanx; I’m so bloated!” I am guilty of this, too.
Ladies, can we try to stop doing this to ourselves? The correct response to a compliment is, “Thank you.”
I flipped through the recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition this morning. Afterwards, I realized that I didn’t notice a single bathing suit or fashion accessory. Nor did I appreciate the beautiful backgrounds of the photos. To be honest, I focused on how the models have perfect bodies, with no cellulite, bulges, muffin tops, or ripples. The same mantra that has been inside my head for years appeared: I don’t look like that. And I never will. It’s exhausting.
My body isn’t perfect by industry or Hollywood standards, but I don’t give myself enough credit for my body’s real accomplishments. So, here’s a shout out to what my body has done, which is far more impactful than being Photoshopped into perfection:
1. I overcame infertility after several frustrating years and many treatments and procedures.
2. I conceived twins and carried them to 32 weeks including two months of strict bed-rest.
3. I got past a six-week paralysis in my legs after delivery that prevented me from walking and picking up my babies.
4. I conceived a surprise third baby despite the odds.
5. I play with my kids at the beach. In a bathing suit.
6. I do Pilates three times a week. I am strong. I have a “two-pack,” which is enough for me.
7. My lap, hips, and back have provided ample space for my kids to sit, ride, and hang on.
8. My shoulders have weathered heavy personal burdens and I am still standing.
9. Whether I am healthy or sick, I still care for my family and attend to what’s needed.
10. I take care of my body and I am healthy, so I should stop complaining.
I appreciate Cindy Crawford’s un-retouched picture, even though it was never intended to be seen. It would be meaningful to have her address the photo, and would provide an opportunity to inspire other women (famous and not) to be real, too. In the meantime, let’s stop comparing ourselves to retouched images, because we are better than that.