Ok, so this is something that's been rattling around in my brain for a while - the arguments over airbrushing in magazines and the effect that it has on women's self-image.
I think we can all agree that being constantly shown images of perfection which, not only are unobtainable for you the reader, but which haven't been obtained in the first place by the model/ celebrity you're looking at, is a bad thing for your confidence. It contributes to this culture which demonsises anyone above a size 10/12. My concern is with what people are proposing to do about it - which is essentially just full disclosure. People at the moment are pushing for laws that require magazines to put a stamp, or a little notice on the bottom of the picture saying "this photo has been airbrushed".
How is that going to help?
Women (for the most part) are not stupid and/or blind to the world around them (and I wish people would stop trying to pretend that we are). We know that the pictures we are seeing have been airbrushed - we're told often enough at the moment. There are even magazines that have deliberately unairbrushed paparazzi photos of celebs not looking their best held up for women to mock (which is a fairly disgusting practice in it's own right), so we know our idols don't look picture perfect all the time in real life. Women are not stupid, so telling us something that we already know, or could probably guess, is not going to help one iota.
The problem is not that airbrushing is undisclosed - the problem is that people feel the need to airbrush at all. What magazines are doing is promoting an ideal. It may not be a real one, it may not even be a possible one (though women do tend to kid themselves that it is; whether or not they have proof) but it is held as an ideal. I don't care if they're telling me (or showing me) that such body types are achievable, they are telling me that such body types are admirable, possibly even the only ones which are even acceptable. They are saying 'look at these celebrities and models. They were gorgeous to start with, but even then they are not gorgeous enough. We must make them "better", we must, in fact make them conform to our standards of what is beautiful, what women should look like. We must bring them up to scratch, and hold them up before you as the standard to which you must aspire.'
Who cares if that standard is achievable or not? It is still being touted as the standard. In effect, by acnowledging that all their pictures are airbrushed, all these magazines would be saying is that no woman will ever be good enough. No women's bodies can ever be beautiful in their natural state - that all women, in fact, are ugly and sub-par. So we have to air brush them to make them better. Only when airbrushing stops, when real women are lauded for their real beauty (whatever size that comes in) will women start being able to accept themselves for who they are.