Early this week, an unretouched photo of Cindy Crawford was released. The initial claim was that it was from a spread in Marie Claire magazine, and that Crawford had consented to her photos being published without any retouching. As new information emerged, that claim was shown to be false, and I’ve taken down my posts about it.
The picture sparked an important discussion, though. And I want to continue that discussion. Peggy Drexler, in a commentary on CNN.com, referred to the photo as ‘Cindy Crawford’s cellulite photo’. Can we talk about that for a minute? It was actually a picture of Crawford’s whole body, not her cellulite. Is that what women are now? Cellulite? Why is Crawford’s humanity completely dismissed and her entire existence, in this photo at least, boiled down to one physical trait? Her face was in the photo. Her arms and legs and torso. Her whole body was in the photo. ‘Cellulite photo’? Really?
Drexler then went on to say Crawford “doesn’t look all that amazing”, and that “what we’re celebrating as “real” are her flaws”.
Nope nope nope.
Cellulite is not a flaw. It is a normal function of the way women’s bodies store fat. It is normal. Virtually every one of us has it (a few don’t, but the vast majority of women do, and some men as well). Again, cellulite is not a flaw. It is normal, it is how our bodies are built. Not. A. Flaw.
Also, Crawford definitely looked amazing in the photo.
Finally, Drexler says:
“We don’t like Crawford’s image because it’s “real.” We like it because it’s a little startling and a little unattractive, and therefore makes us feel better about ourselves. “
1. It’s not startling. She looks like a normal healthy woman. We ALL know that the models in magazines are photoshopped. We don’t like it. We know what NORMAL women look like, so seeing one is not startling.
2. It’s not unattractive. It’s normal. She looks like a normal healthy woman. A spectacularly beautiful normal healthy woman, actually.
3. I can’t speak for Drexler, but seeing Crawford unretouched doesn’t make me feel better about myself. Because I already feel good about myself. Because I know I am a normal healthy woman. And I’m awesome. So no, seeing Crawford unretouched doesn’t make me feel better about myself. And I think most of my readers agree, as most of my readers are normal healthy women who don’t need to tear down other women to feel better about themselves.
And besides, it would be pretty shitty to tear down another woman for having cellulite, since it’s NORMAL. And virtually all of us have it. It would be like tearing down another woman for having hair. Or skin. Or toenails. It. Is. Normal.
The reason I appreciated the photo, when I thought it was from a spread in Marie Claire, is that I was really psyched to have such an iconic woman standing up for all of our daughters. Standing up and saying ‘THIS IS NORMAL. This is what women’s bodies look like. We won’t be told our normal healthy bodies are flawed any longer.’
That’s what I wanted the picture to mean. And I’m disappointed that it doesn’t mean that. I’m disappointed not to have that role model for my daughters, and all our daughters.
So you know what? I’m going to do it. I’m going to be the role model. I’m going to be the one standing up and saying:
THIS IS NORMAL. This is what women’s bodies look like. We won’t be told our normal healthy bodies are flawed any longer.
I am a strong, fit, healthy, NORMAL woman, and I have cellulite. Just like virtually every woman reading this. I have always had cellulite. I had it when my body fat was in the low teens (you can see these pictures I posted here on my blog three years ago, during my leanest period – as you’ll see, I had cellulite, loose skin and stretch marks – because I am normal). I am currently around 20% body fat – still quite lean by most standards – and I still have cellulite. I have a normal, healthy body. It is not flawed. Neither is any other woman’s NORMAL healthy body. I’m putting my ‘cellulite’ photo’ next to a full body photo so you can see that I am, in fact, fit, healthy and lean. I am a human being, not a collection of flaws.
Stand up with me. Push back against those who would distill our entire existence down to a physical trait, who would shame us for a trait that is perfectly normal.
We are not flawed.