gallery Stars Who Dared to Go Bare
Four years after Britney Spears' breakdown, she's again promoting a new album, Femme Fatale, out Tuesday, though it's far from clear she's fully recovered. But industry sources tell Jacob Bernstein that won't hurt her career.
The gulf between Britney’s album covers and her paparazzi shots has always seemed vast, but never before have we had the photographic evidence to prove what we've long suspected: Famous people are not made of plastic. Spears herself
the unretouched images from her new Candie's ads to spotlight the pressure on women to be physically perfect. Thighs were slimmed, bruises erased. Animated
were instantly created. We can still feel the pangs of jealousy, though: Her long, thick hair—professionally styled and plumped with extensions—is unaltered.
Even Barack Obama
on Jessica Simpson's appearance after photos of the singer in unflattering jeans hit the Internet. Simpson
that she didn't comment because people were calling her fat for gaining 10 pounds, and how would that make someone a size larger feel? In the May issue of Marie Claire, the singer went further in her fight against fascist beauty standards, appearing on the cover, and in a photo shoot within the issue, makeup-free. Though the photos are perhaps humanizing, they're still not democratizing, beauty-wise. Simpson
After Complex accidentally
an original photo of Kim Kardashian, instead of its Photoshopped version, for several hours last year, the reality star reposted the image. "So what: I have a little cellulite. What curvy girl doesn't?" she wrote. To prove her point, she then
the cover of Life & Style in a black bikini without the aid of any digital magic. "I'm so tired of people pretending they're perfect and covering up things when in reality we are who and what we are," she said. "You can try to improve that, but the reality is, nobody's perfect."
Newsweek drew fire from conservative critics when it published an extreme close-up of Sarah Palin on its cover—with no retouching—three weeks before the 2008 election. In the history of Photoshop scandals, this may be the first time outrage flared over a lack of manipulation. "Any respectable magazine should be doing a little retouching," Fox News' Megyn Kelly
. The visibility not only of pores but also laugh lines was considered a partisan assault, though somehow Palin managed to appeal to millions anyway. Perhaps not having had her skin resurfaced with a floor sander merely added to Palin's regular-gal cred.
French Marie Claire, April 2010
Photoshop is not just an American obsession. Last year, a member of the French parliament proposed a bill requiring all digitally manipulated images to bear a label marking them as altered. And this year, the entire April issue of French Marie Claire hit newsstands without a drop of retouching. But, some pointed out, some tricks are necessary to make even 15-year-old models perfect under the harsh glare of a camera's flash. "I see that the photographers had to use the old techniques before Photoshop existed," Frédérique Renaut
. "Burning out the skin using overexposure, soft light, adding a half blue filter to whiten the skin, pulled back images, large smiles for celebrities so their nasal labial folds are hidden…This is where I see digital retouching as necessary! Necessary for making banal images more interesting and a little more dreamy."
Glamour was inundated with fan mail after it published a little 3-inch square picture of a happy woman, nude except for a tiny red thong, with a bit of a tummy. The model was Lizzi Miller, a 20-year-old size 12, and the national excitement over seeing an abdomen that had not been subjected to a rigorous three-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week sit-up regimen in a glossy magazine propelled Miller onto the
show and into a multitude of publications. "When I was young I really struggled with my body and how it looked because I didn't understand why my friends were so effortlessly skinny," Miller
during the hubbub last August. "As I got older I realized that everyone's body is different and not everyone is skinny naturally—me included! I learned to love my body for how it is, every curve of it."
Actress Sadie Frost, ex-wife of Jude Law and now a 44-year-old single mother of four, ordered her own nude shots to be untouched when she guest-edited an edition of Grazia magazine that hit newsstands this January. "I want to make a big point here. It's not about taking my clothes off and using digital trickery to make me look slimmer," Frost
. "I'm in my 40s. I can't believe it happened. I can't make myself look any younger but I can do what I can to make myself look the best I can."
Marcel Thomas, FilmMagic / Getty Images Bethenny Frankel Real Housewives of New York
star Bethenny Frankel stripped down to participate in PETA's "I'd Rather Go Naked" campaign, which uses exposed celebrity skin to fight against fur. Frankel, 39, was pregnant in the photos, which were plastered on a Times Square billboard in December 2009, and was instantly attacked for being overly airbrushed. So she released the original version to Us Weekly. "Everything I'm about is being honest and being upfront," Frankel
. "So if people are talking and saying [the photo] was airbrushed...then, you know what? Here's the picture. Have it your way."
The melancholy message implied in the average female's anti-Photoshop crusade is not so much "supermodels don't need airbrushing" as "the rest of us do." But nevertheless, one must cheer the baby steps made by fashion magazine editors. Claudia Schiffer
for the cover of Tank magazine, topless and airbrushless, last September. She was 40 and still smoking hot. "I didn't work out, I didn't do anything special for the advert and I wasn't even nervous," Schiffer said. "Of course, as a model it is normal to be taking your clothes off all the time. I wouldn't think I was ever too old to do something like that. I mean, maybe if I was 60 or 70, then yes, I'd stop doing nude shoots, but then I guess it depends who is asking."
Miss Universe 2004 Jennifer Hawkins posed naked and un-Photoshopped on the
of the February issue of Australian Marie Claire. She looks amazing—and completely human. Behold! Skin creases a little when she bends! "I'm not a stick figure—I thought it would be great to tell women to just be themselves and be confident," Hawkins told the magazine, whose aim was to help women feel better about their bodies. The issue was only modestly successful in doing so. Some readers are hard to please. "She wants to make [women] feel more comfortable about how they look, gee thanks, I now feel worse! I'm a size 10 and I still have more rolls than her!" one wrote. Another lamented, "If anything is going to have me running to the toilet with my finger down my throat it's a picture of Jennifer Hawkins naked."