Confession: There are few things I find more engrossing than model “before and afters.” There’s a whole genre of this stuff, with variations like “Celebrities without makeup!” and “They have cellulite too!” and “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” and I can’t pull my eyes away.
I think the word “engrossed” is the right one. It’s not “fun” per se, to sit and parse the appearances of beautiful people looking less beautiful, but I do find it some twisted combination of mesmerizing, fascinating, horrifying, reassuring, and enlightening. I see pictures like this and in quick succession I think:
a) Wow, she is not attractive
b) That was mean. Stop judging.
c) But like, really, that is all make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop…
d) Maybe I could look like that with make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop?
e) Hold up. Why do I want to look like that?
f) This is fucked. Why is our standard of beauty so far outside the spectrum of what actual humans look like?
g) I want no part of this.
h) Except… look how much bigger her eyes looked like when they added mascara…
i) Maybe I should invest in some good mascara
j) But why are big eyes a good thing? What’s wrong with the size of my eyes?
k) THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE SIZE OF YOUR EYES. YOU ARE PERFECT
l) Except not as perfect as they are… with make-up and big hair and lighting and photoshop…
m) But if people don’t know about the make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop…
n) Then they just think that these women are abnormally beautiful,
o) Which they are not, because they are just normal looking humans.
p) What does it mean if we think these women are normal?
q) It means we start doing things like shaving our jaw bones
r) and getting eyelash extensions
s) and injecting collagen into our lips.
t) That shit is scary.
u) So…maybe it’s okay if everyone knows that this not what they really look like?
v) So… maybe these “before and afters” are actually kind of an educational tool?
w) We should teach media literacy in schools. There should be warning labels on magazine covers.
x) I hope I don’t have daughters
y) That’s a really sad thing to say.
z) I hate everyone and we are doomed.
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