Strike a Pose


June's issue of Vogue Italia (NSFW due to some nudity) offered a refreshing break from the typical images of female perfection plastered over every fashion and beauty magazine. This issue, entitled Belle Vere or "True Beauty," featured "plus-size" models both on the cover and in a photo spread. As is the case in the media, plus-size means average-size in real life. I don't know the statistics in Italy, but the average American woman is 5’4” and weighs 165 pounds. A woman this size would most certainly be plus-size in the modeling world, and it would be quite uncommon for a magazine to have her gracing its cover, at least in the United States.

We don't get to see many images in the media that resemble what most of us look like, unless they're "before" photos. Although the women in this issue of Vogue don't fit the media ideal in terms of body size, they still look beautiful and glamorous, because they had the same model treatment that the typical cover girls get.

Even the women who are typically on the covers of magazines don’t jump out of bed looking as flawless as they seem to be in the photos. Why should we hold ourselves to a higher standard? We’re so used to comparing our real-life mirror images with the media ideal. But it’s not a fair fight. Those images were created with the help of hair stylists, makeup artists, fashion stylists, good lighting, designer backgrounds, professional photographers, and photo retouchers. We can get a similar effect if we use the same tricks they use, regardless of our weight or whether we have personal trainers, chefs, or plastic surgery.

Here’s an experiment: go to a salon and get your hair and makeup done. Dress up in beautiful clothes that fit and flatter (take advantage of supportive undergarments that lift things up and suck things in). Next, get professional headshots taken or ask an amateur photographer friend to snap photos of you. Take hundreds of pictures in lighting that glows and in poses that flatter. Out of the hundreds of photos, choose the few that capture you at your best. Then, have those photos retouched.

This is a chance to see yourself in that same idealized light that you’re used to seeing other women. It's a good reminder that we don’t have to be perfect to be pleased with our reflections -- we can all look flawless given the right tools.

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