Monday morning, as I walked the streets of South Beach, I was privy to witnessing a professional model shoot. The most striking thing about watching the photo shoot was not the beauty of the male model himself, but rather how many people it took to make his pictures beautiful. For every great magazine photograph, it takes an army of people to execute. This particular model was surrounded by eight assistants and a photographer, not to mention the wardrobe dresser and make-up artist that I did not get to watch that surely took part of his preparation. Barely measuring in at what I would approximate to be 130lbs, this ultra-skinny male sipped sugar-free Red Bull and gazed absently off into the distance for each shot.
I had the pleasure of getting to check out the large photo monitor that showed the edited pictures, and, no exaggeration, it looked like a completely different person. The male in the already re-touched photos looked nothing like the man standing in front of me — he appeared to be three inches taller, have about 30 pounds more of muscle, and was twenty times more attractive than he was in real life.
Even more interesting is the difficulty I had today in finding an appropriate photograph that captures a photo shoot to accompany this blog. Yesterday I felt too dorky to run and grab my camera to capture the male model that I saw, thinking to myself that I could surely find plenty of images to use that would be comparable. It was practically impossible to find an image that shows just how many people it takes to do a successful photo shoot, or, perhaps better put, to create the “perfect” image.
With this all in mind, how is it then that we can rationally allow ourselves to compare our bodies to the images of “perfection” that are splattered all over the media, in every magazine, every commercial, and every ad we see? These images that bombard our live are fake. They are simply unrealistic representations of people. Yes, the models themselves are beautiful, but in real life they still look nowhere near as beautiful as they do in the modified photos that we end up seeing and comparing ourselves to.
I urge you to take a second look at every idealized image that you look at on a daily basis and remind yourself that it took an army to produce that false image. It is falsified beauty that isn’t really that beautiful at all.
My good friend Angi once told me that the most beautiful thing about people is beauty in action, and beauty in action is exactly what we do NOT see in these images that pervade our lives. The funny thing is that the model I watched yesterday was quirky and handsome in his own right, but only when I saw him off-camera, when the army surrounding him wasn’t watching, and when he was simply being himself. Let us all remember our beauty in action and stop comparing ourselves to fake images.