It's been a hectic month and I've been behind on my magazine reading, so I was delighted to have a chance to catch up on all the fashion and beauty news during a much-needed trip to the pedicurist last week. Once comfortably situated with my feet in the bath and the chair set to "massage," I picked up the May issue of Allure. Lindsay Lohan was on the cover, complete with photoshopped freckles and the tag line "I was a Bit... Irresponsible," which was humorous considering the interview occurred last year and she was doing damage control on an event that's been eclipsed by the 12 even bigger mistakes she's made since then.
As I flipped through pages of nondescript beauty advice (Allure is the Cosmopolitan of beauty, with the same features, interviews and advice every month), I stopped short on page 231, where Vanessa William's perfectly round, smooth and naked ass appeared to emanate a soft glow. On the opposite page, Carla Gugino (yeah, I didn't know who she was either) stared seductively at the camera with her hand touching her bedroom hair, wearing nothing but a fishing net. Had I accidentally picked up the latest Maxim or GQ? What was this nudie spread doing in my beauty magazine?
I searched around for some text that might explain the purpose of such an erotic spread. I know the Europeans reading this right now are saying "what a prude!" but by American standards, this is sexually charged magazine fare. Here is a snippet from the brief introduction, written in tiny type next to a page and a half full color photograph of Kristen Chenoweth humping a log on the beach:
Try as I might, I could find no purpose to this article, except that Allure might have been hoping to encourage the boyfriends and younger brothers of their readers to steal the issue. Now, I can admire a nude woman's beauty as much as any other straight girl (I'm an art history major as well, so it's like a second job), but this spread did nothing for me. And when I flipped to the next page, where the headline "GET A BETTER BODY" screamed out at me, I even got a little angry. Was the point to make readers compare their bodies to those of Cassie, Marley Shelton and co. and then feel bad enough to buy the products advertised in the magazine, so we'll look and feel better? Thanks, Allure.
About 90 pages earlier in the issue is the "Total Makeover" feature, in which three women are followed as they undergo long-term makeovers to lose weight and improve their looks overall. Each month, they're photographed in a different outfit, next to a box featuring their before and after weight stats. But just as every magazine loves a dramatic before and after shot, all three women are pictured standing in a swimsuit at their highest weight, weakly smiling as every dimple, saddlebag and scar is present for the whole world to see. They don't appear to be wearing makeup, and have certainly never seen the touch of a photo editor's mouse. Seems a bit unfair, don't you think?