The good news is that for ordinary women who battle their weight and find it hard to exercise, their glamorous celebrity counterparts are fighting the same battle. The difference is that while celebrities are stalked by the paparazzi and their harsh camera lenses, we, the hoi poloi, are allowed to move about our daily lives relatively unnoticed.
Prominent tabloids are becoming increasing cruel towards even the most fit and celebrated, exposing dimpled thighs and bellies to the harsh glare of daylight. The most prominent culprit is The National Inquirer.
What's illuminating are some of the comments ordinary people have about these photos, which reveal how much we've fallen for this visual clap trap: "Try not to gag," "My eyes, my eyes, I'm so framing this one," and "I now know I can curl up with the National Enquirer and rejoice..." As a culture, we have fallen for the myth about cellulite, believing that a magic pill or exercise can remove these bumps that proclaim our femininity.
Here's another myth: flawless skin. At the beginning of summer, another tabloid , The Star, showcased the best and worst bikini bodies. Celebrity women like Kate Hudson who had borne babies, lost out to single women who had never had a child, like Jessica Biehl and Cameron Diaz. How cruel was it to show Kate in such a revealing light? Her personal comings and goings are none of our business, I don't care how much she earns.
In the old days, starlets like Jill St. John could rely on the studio system to protect them from unflattering images. Had Jill, shown in an early 70's studio shot, been photographed as unmercifully as some of today's stars, you would have observed the same amount of bumps and lumps on her stomach and thighs as in the examples shown on this post.
A third myth, that some women are not affected by pregnancy at all, is also being perpetuated. Heidi Klum, a mother of three was photographed naked for a German magazine, Arena. Strategically placed hair, pillows, and sheets, and creative camera angles, not to mention a generous dose of airbrushing, made Heidi look next to perfect. Yes, she has great genes, but the subliminal message seems to be, if she can look this great after bearing three children, why can't you?
Any woman over 30 who has had a child knows the true situation: Your skin stretches during pregnancy and is never the same again. In the photo below, taken one month after Heidi bore her second child, she looks remarkable. However, one can still see the tell tale marks of pregnancy in her belly button in this soft, back lit photo. Had this picture been taken in the glare of bright sunshine on a Malibu Beach, we would have had an entirely different perspective.
Going back to the photo of Kate Hudson, here's what one website hawking diets and cellulite pills says: "How did Kate Hudson (who by the way put on as many as 60 lbs. during her pregnancy) manage to get her perfect body back after pregnancy?" These sites and magazines can't have it both ways, folks. Either Kate is perfect, which would make young mothers feel guilty for not being the same, or she's not, which would give those same young women a feeling of comfort or superiority.
Except for the very young, cellulite is a fact of life for 80 -90% of healthy women, even for those who exercise and diet. The National Enquirer photos of super fit sports women and celebrities like Maria Sharapova (below) and Nicolette Sheridan, or even long tall fashion models, seem to bear this out.
Even tall, thin, and lanky Karolina Kurkova, a Victoria's Secret model, shows a few bumps and lumps. Oh, and if you wonder why your clothes don't fit as well as a model's, take a close look at those safety pins holding the back of her top together for the photo shoot.
Celebrities can't win for trying. No matter what they do, they'll be accused of being too thin, too fat, too old, and too riddled with cellulite. Should they go back to wearing bathing suits that look like these to protect themselves from intruding lenses? Perish the thought.
Of course, some women just don't seem to be able to view themselves dispassionately. I'm sure grannie below was boffo in her day, but honestly, couldn't granpa have shoved her in the closet and locked her in before she walked out the door? Placing this photo in this post was a little unfair. (Ok, a lot.) But it illustrates how optimistic we are when we view ourselves in the mirror. I bet granny doffed this getup at home in soft candlelight and saw herself as she was a century ago.
In a less exaggerated way, we all do the same thing, seeing ourselves lighter, younger, and more fit when viewing ourselves in the mirror in the privacy of our homes. But the dispassionate camera lens is seldom forgiving, and that is the rub of these candid paparazzi photos: They are seldom flattering.
The Skinny Website supposedly takes a lighthearted look at celebrity fitness and weight. I hate to tell the blog owner, but it's not. In fact, this site is perpetuating the misconception that the perfect female body is a cellulite free body. Those lumps and bumps that many of those commentators find unsightly are normal for most women, and let me place the emphasis on NORMAL.
So here's the moral to this little story: Remember, dahlings, backlighting is always your friend, as is the golden light just before dusk. And stay away from the paparazzi.
Click below for my other rants on similar topics about beauty and self image.
Lollipop Heads: Or Thoughts from An Amateur Observer
The Skinny on Things
Beauty is as Beauty Does