Posted at 14:58 on 11 Jan 2012 by Pandora / Blake
A friend sneaked out this page from the Zoo magazine offices to show me. It's a spread from the magazine, over which an editor has stapled tracing paper with scribbled instructions for 'improving' the images. It's like an unholy mashup of the boss' red pen with those reality TV shows in which plastic surgeons draw on women's bodies, highlighting all the places they deviate from the 'ideal' unattainable without surgery or Photoshop.
The feature, called with brilliant irony 'Zoo real girls', shows off non-famous, conventionally pretty women who look a bit like conventionally pretty celebrities. Given the narrow range of physical appearance which conventional female prettiness describes - Caucasian, slender, youthful, fair, petite, delicate features, pert breasts, clear skin, etc - these 'sexylikeys' can't be that hard to find.
This 'real girl' has classic glamour model looks, and is already made up, studio lit, flatteringly photographed and touched up by a previous photo editor. The red pen commentary ranges from the unnecessary but predictable ('trim', 'flatten', 'curve') to the downright creepy ('reduce nipples' - whut? What's wrong with her nipples?). Other choice comments include 'remove all beauty spots' (real girls don't have moles or freckles, you know), instructions to fix a 'weird line' caused by a previous editor's nips and tucks (if you want it to look natural, you could, I don't know, stop trying to artificially alter the shape of a human body?) and the super-flattering 'tidy chicken skin'. Lovely!
Bet the resulting 'tidied up' images of herself make Ms Freimanis feel loads better about her appearance. Thank goodness lads' mads feature real girls from time to time - I mean we wouldn't want anyone to get unrealistic expectations about how our bodies should look.
Edit 23:56: In the shower, as this continued to bother me, I managed to articulate some of the things I found ickiest about it.
1. The sheer damn SHAMELESSNESS of it. Every body part scribbled on; not a single curve deemed acceptable. This isn't the result of a discerning, perfectionistic eye: it's a blanket rejection of natural body shape. One gets the impression that no matter how slender she'd have been to start with, the instructions would have been the same, running on an industry auto-pilot with no sense that there might be anything weird or wrong about this.
2. It's like your boss or teacher's marking. The red pen screams WRONG, INCORRECT. It makes me want to hastily do the corrections before I get a bad mark. But this is someone else's body we're talking about. We don't get to say that someone else's body is incorrect. That's fucked up.