The process a model goes through to be deemed photographable and the subsequent manipulation of the photograph are well documented in this video that Dove did as part of it's Campaign for Real Beauty several years ago.
Recently there has been some new controversy over the doctoring up of photographs of minority celebrities appearing on the cover of magazines. Elle Magazine recently featured Gabourey Sidibe, winner of two Academy Awards for her performance in the movie "Precious," and and Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood star and former Ms. World, on it's cover. Both actresses have accused the magazine of whitewashing their photographs.
There are rumors of lawsuits and Elle magazine has defended it's portrayal of both women, claiming that their photographs hadn't been touched up any more than any other cover model that had appeared in the magazine.
This controversy has been very disturbing to me. Unfortunately, depictions of models influence how we, as women, see ourselves. As much as I tell my daughter that the images are false, that they have been doctored, that they are cartoonish, they will on some level influence how she feels about her appearance and about the appearance of others. I intentionally do not have these magazines in my home but, she inevitably sees them in other places. My black son will also be exposed to these images and will not find anyone who looks like him.
An important part of healing racism in this country is to show honest, unaltered pictures of race in the media.The message that Elle communicated when it lighted the skin of Sidibe and Rai, is that white is right, that light skin is more desirable, that there is only one way to be beautiful. The real problem is that our culture has bought into this - lighter models yield higher sales. The solution seems relatively simple: LET'S STOP BUYING THE MAGAZINES.
I'm interested in your thoughts...