on beauty

Last night a friend told me, “Every woman is beautiful when she smiles.”

“Totally true,” I agreed, but in my head (and maybe out loud, too) I thought, “but you get extra points if you are young and thin.”

Which sort of brings me to the images above… Vogue Italia featured full-figure models in its June cover story. (Click through for more images, but they are somewhat NSFW… unless you work for Vogue. Hey, its European.) The cover story is sexy. It adds more evidence to support the argument that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to beauty.

Vogue Italia also warms my heart by having an entire V Curvy section of its website. My one semester of Italian isn’t much help in appreciating it fully, but I’m glad it’s there.

The loss of youth and beauty is an anxiety as old as time, I suppose, but is it a little worse in the age of super models and photoshop? The American Medical Association recently formally denounced retouching photos with photoshop and asked ad agencies to consider setting stricter guidelines for how photos are manipulated before becoming advertisements.

I truly have no idea where I stand on this issue. Sure, images of women in magazines and on tv are completely unrealistic (even the curvier women seen above are undoubtably retouched), but who wouldn’t want a public image of themselves to be enhanced a bit? Plus, aren’t we smart enough to know the difference between reality and fantasy?

The standard for beauty that I have etched in my brain is this photo of Gwyneth Paltrow on a 1998 cover of W magazine. (This is the largest image I could find, but I think the actual cover is probably still at my parent’s house in a box. I had it hanging on my wall as a teen.) I am sure that I identified with her blonde hair, but I liked her freckles and messy bangs. I don’t think I paid much attention then, but now I also appreciate the fact that she doesn’t have gaudy, round baseball cleavage all up in our faces. But that’s just me.

I really don’t know where I am going with this, other than to say that I am defintely getting older and less thin. (I know I’m getter older because the Victoria’s Secret models now look like 7-foot-tall, computer generated 13-year-olds to me. Don’t ask how I know I’m getting less thin.) That’s the bad news. The good news is that I think I am at peace with it. I think… Well, I’m at least at peace with the idea that there are many different types of beautiful. Young & thin doesn’t have a monopoly. Right?

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