In the immortal words of, well, someone I can’t remember, “It’s hard out there for a girl!” So you’d think we’d all be a bit nicer to each other, right? And we are – unless that girl is rich, famous and beautiful. Then it’s a socially sanctioned free for all.
Celebrity body snarking has long been the bread and butter of the weekly rags, not to mention all the websites devoted to Brittney’s waistline and Uma’s cellulite. I’m not saying I’m above it all – I’ve already ‘fessed up to an evil fascination with Miley Cyrus’ muffin top – but I am saying it’s starting to come full circle. It used to be that celebs had powers we mere mortals could never hope to attain and they used them to aggrandize themselves even more. Super powers such as Photoshop, Botox, and lipodissolve assured that the playing field would always be tilted in the favor of those who could afford them. But recently these super powers have been unmasked for the trickery they are. In the immortal words of someone I can remember but wish I didn’t, “The stars: they ARE just like us!”
And being “like us” means that despite what they and their PR machines would have us believe, they are not immune to the effects of aging. First it was the Faith Hill debacle where she got a bit of a tummy tuck and some wrinkles and eye bags erased via computer. Then it was the recent Demi Moore for W photoshoot where her hip was chopped (or wasn’t – who cares?) and the perfume ad where the tweeted before pictures proved that her skin really wasn’t waxen and monotone like it appeared in print (no, really?!). And now we have Madonna, queen of the ageless sylphs.
This week several pre-production pictures were leaked (or “leaked”) of the grand dame of pop music looking, er, her age. That one should look older as one increases in years ought to be a given but Madonna has been able to control every aspect of her image for so long that they surprised a lot of people. Newsflash: Madonna has gotten older. And she looks it.
For me I think the shock came from the incongruity of a woman of mature age dressed like an extra from the Halloween scene of Mean Girls – a movie about high schoolers, in case you have forgotten. (It also included a sober Lindsey Lohan, in case you have forgotten that too.) The pictures from a Louis Vuitton ad campaign that ran last year joined others of a similar nature already leaked from her Hard Candy album.
But while it is always fun – and reassuring – to see celebs without the veil of computer enhancement, much of the glee seems to be directed at the fact that the Material Girl is starting to look a little threadbare. Jezebel writer Irin says, “mocking what these women actually look like is not the point.” I’m not sure how I feel about a school of thought that makes Madonna and I both victims of the same crime against women and yet this kind of reporting seems to be taking a serious toll even on those whom you’d think would be immune to it. While Madonna hasn’t said anything, other women are speaking out. Lily Allen recently claimed to have Body Dysmorphic Disorder saying she thinks she she looks “‘considerably more overweight’ than she is.” and “compared herself to Michelle McManus, who won [Britain’s] Pop Idol in 2003 and then claimed she was dropped by her record label because of her weight. Anne Hathaway confessed in an interview this month with In Style, “I think I’ve got really weird features. I have very large features on a very small head. But, you know, I’m not going to beat myself up. It’s my face. I’m not very pretty.”