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Supernatural beauty
September 18, 2010 4:42 AM   Subscribe

Belleza sobrenatural (supernatural beauty) is a project from Elle Spain magazine featuring twelve (Spanish) beautiful women completely without makeup and without Photoshop enhancement; four of them appear on the covers. It's being picked up by other websites, but so far only in Spanish; I couldn't find any coverage in English. Meanwhile, the US version of Elle has the usual makeup/photoshop enhanced cover models.

The phrase on the web page, "ELLE defiende a la mujer sin maquillaje, sin retoques y sin miedo", translates to "Elle defends/supports the woman without makeup, without retouching, and without fear".

Needless to say, in the phrase "(Spanish) beautiful women", the first adjective makes the second one superfluous. Also (and I feel petty for saying this), no mention is made of past plastic surgery, Botox, etc., so we don't really know how natural any of this is, but it's still something.
posted by math (33 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
They've still received plenty of careful color adjustment. That's arguably part of the standard photographic process, but unless they're solely adjusting the colors to match the original model and scene as closely as possible (which doesn't appear to be the case), it still represents a manipulation of reality.

Unsurprisingly, these four cover models are far more attractive and appealing than the monstrosities that typically populate these rags. I don't know who, outside of the fashion industry, is actually attracted to people with artificially lengthened necks, artificially widened eyes, and artificially poreless skin.

This is just a publicity stunt to sell more magazines, though. I don't read fashion magazines, but from what I've seen, this is the thing to do these days: every so often, do something that shows that you "get it" re: unrealistic beauty standards. See? They're progressive! They're part of the solution, not the problem!

Yeah, fucking bullshit. You wouldn't exist without the cosmetic and fashion companies whose ads grace every page next to your self-congratulatory photo spreads of oh-so-ordinary supermodels with OMG NO MAKEUP!—and you know it.

Want to impress me? (That's a rhetorical question; I know you don't.) Do this in every issue from here on out. No? What happened to your passionate belief in natural feminine beauty? That belief is only good for twelve photos per year?
posted by ixohoxi at 5:33 AM on September 18, 2010 [18 favorites]


Why do I get the impression that only a European magazine could do this -- or be bothered to -- do it properly? I guess the issue is that Elle is a fashion magazine, out there to move clothing, makeup and accessories. There's less money in selling healthy lifestyles, but still -- does this just mean that there are just better-looking people in Spain, who are interested in buying a magazine that sells that lifestyle back to them over and over again?

This may sound dopey, but this is the impression I got of Europe, in general, 25 years ago -- better-looking people, chronically upper middle-class.
posted by vhsiv at 5:43 AM on September 18, 2010


elsa pataky is the spanish poster girl for (tasteful) plastic surgery.

Is it just me or regular people don't look as zombie like as in these photos? Any reason for not taking the pictures in the sun? Is it some kind of statement?
posted by valdesm at 5:45 AM on September 18, 2010


It's all in the lighting. And, as mentioned above by ixohoxi, color adjustment. Do that right, and it's as good as makeup.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:45 AM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Even if they're only paying lip service to natural looks, it's a step in the right direction. ms. mouse and I have been watching So You Think You Can Dance Canada and the hostess-droid, Leah Miller, is just fucking unbelievably hard on the eyes because of all the snip snip. Like corpseface-stage Michael Jackson hard.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:48 AM on September 18, 2010


But it's not much of a "step in the right direction" when they're just doing this as publicity stunt in order to gain money, something that they will probably never do again, or at least not for a very long time.
The lighting remark reminds me of them putting Gabourey Sidibe on the cover of Elle as if to say, "We're don't do just skinny white models, yeah, we're with the times," and then lightening her skin and cutting her off at the upper chest, and I think that is it true. They want to sell magazines and to them it seems jumping on the social awareness bandwagon is going to do it, but, of course, they do so in only the most superficial of ways or the ones that will get them the most money.
posted by lauratheexplorer at 6:03 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's all in the lighting. And, as mentioned above by ixohoxi, color adjustment. Do that right, and it's as good as makeup.

Lighting can't cover blemishes and wrinkles (It can reduce their noticeability) but it's not equivalent.

Also, adjusting the levels isn't the same as 'altering reality' Your own eyes change their perception of color depending on the lighting and what you have been looking at previously. There is no 'one true reality' If you photographed them in the sun you'd still have the 'magic hour' vs noon issue, clouds vs. sunlight, etc.
posted by delmoi at 6:32 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why should I have to look at these ugly hags, with their patchy, mottled skin, wrinkly eyes, and cracked lips. They could have at least trimmed the hairs off their their huge, warty noses. I especially hate the worms crawling out from between their teeth, and the dung beetles dropping from their hair. Yuuuuk. Go back to the old way, and show us some real girls.
posted by Faze at 6:44 AM on September 18, 2010


Photoshopped fashion photography is just a form of aspirational transhumanism. We have insect girl, liquid corset waist, giant brain. What's not to love about engineered superwomen? Do you want to deny our species the uplift of its own technology?
posted by Nelson at 6:53 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find this interesting because a popular item in Korean celebrity news is posting pictures of female Korean celebrities without makeup on. Sometimes these are pictures taken by fans, but they are also frequently selcas (photo self-portraits) posted online by the celebrity herself. Since they tend to come from cameraphones, there isn't the kind of adjustment mentioned above regarding the Elle portraits. The point of the selcas seem to be to show how attractive these women still are without makeup, or in some cases the shock value of how different they look without the heavy stage makeup.

(Just do a search for bare face on a site like allkpop.com to see examples.)
posted by needled at 6:57 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The New York Times has a models before/after slider effect feature that's kind-of the same thing but cooler.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:03 AM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I may be wrong in this but there are a zillion beautiful women who are blessed with great skin etc but, and an important but, they are fairly young. If women are to be shown sans makeup, how about sans bras? The only true way to caputre a real beauty is to snap a photo on the street with no photo manipulation etc...Once inside a studio, things begin to alter a bit here and there to enhance.
posted by Postroad at 7:09 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, adjusting the levels isn't the same as 'altering reality' Your own eyes change their perception of color depending on the lighting and what you have been looking at previously.

If adjusting the levels produces an image markedly different than the one I would have seen with my own eyes in the lighting of the photography studio, then yes, it's altering reality.

Or do you think this woman actually looks like that?

It's hardly the most egregious thing they do in fashion photography. I was just pointing out that any photograph is inherently a simulacrum. They find the models' most flattering angles, take hundreds of photographs of them, pick the best ones, and adjust the colors and cropping to flatter them further. They happened to skip the makeup and Photoshop steps for these photos, but that doesn't mean they aren't highly edited.

Determing whether that editing is a wholly unreasonable thing for them to do is left as an exercise for the reader. I'm merely objecting to the obnoxious disconnect between their gushing enthusiasm for natural feminine beauty, and the process by which these images were created. It's slightly less synthetic than their usual process, yes, but it's still synthetic.

It's like serving me a Big Mac with a single leaf of locally grown organic lettuce on it, and telling me it's not processed food. Especially when I know they'll be right back to serving the genetically modified lettuce in another week or two.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:10 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Allure (a US beauty-focused fashion magazine) does a feature (not the cover) like this once a year and has for the past several years.
posted by padraigin at 7:14 AM on September 18, 2010


Real Deal from Reddit a couple days ago.
posted by JABof72 at 7:27 AM on September 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I just picture the poor girls in the ad sales department, getting the info for the cover and then desperately trying to come up with something to tell their Maybelline and Estee Lauder clients. "I promise, just the one time, and besides, girls with no makeup just reinforces the importance of your product! You should buy *more* ad pages."

Probably a lot like what what Bush had to do with the Sauds whenever there was a big news story about solar power. "Don't worry guys, its not like we're serious about this, we need you more than ever!"
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:32 AM on September 18, 2010


Elle France did this first and it was, i think, edited by Penélope Cruz (i may be mixing two separate things in my mind). anyway, Pe (as she is known in España) is notorious for doing this quite often ---but she is a goddess, so she can :D
posted by liza at 7:34 AM on September 18, 2010


oh gawd, when i read stuff like this "Elsa Pataky cree en la belleza natural" i want to punch people in the face. her face and body have been morphing for years. she's botoxed and tucked in all the right places. what a hypocrite.
posted by liza at 7:36 AM on September 18, 2010


Holy shit, this thread is a prime example of why women can never win, ever.

I may be wrong in this but there are a zillion beautiful women who are blessed with great skin etc but, and an important but, they are fairly young. If women are to be shown sans makeup, how about sans bras? The only true way to caputre a real beauty is to snap a photo on the street

What does this mean?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


A few years back, Italian Vogue had a spread, shot by Steve Meisel, that featured Lauren Hutton with no makeup and no retouching, and she looked like a woman with great bone structure who smoked, drank, and didn't use sunblock.

Fashion spreads are fantasy, and photographers, art directors and fashion editors don't want to be limited to snapshots. American magazines indulge in very styled, very imaginative fashion stories far less than do the European magazines.

I don't get the outrage or the thrill.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:51 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I too am a shocked and surprised that naturally beautiful women look beautiful without makeup.
posted by nomadicink at 7:58 AM on September 18, 2010


Beautiful women in magazine specializing in photos of beautiful women more often than not have beautiful women with small tits. so there.
posted by Postroad at 7:59 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


What does this mean?

It's pretty clear. We should take to the streets looking for (fairly) young, braless, women to snap photos of. In protest of fashion magazine hypocrisy.
posted by ecurtz at 8:23 AM on September 18, 2010


As valdesm points out, to put La Pataky as an example of natural beauty is going to ellicit snorts of derision among Elle Spain's readership. There may be some female malevolence in this information, but according to Lady Skeptic's inside sources, Pataky once used to be unibrowed...
posted by Skeptic at 8:25 AM on September 18, 2010


Yeah, this is not quite as cynical as the Dove campaign, but still talking out of both sides of the corporate mouth. But maybe for some folks, makeup is just a choice, like piercings. Personally I think it looks icky, and young girls are conned into it by the fashion industry, but some people actually seem to like it.
posted by rikschell at 9:35 AM on September 18, 2010


Or do you think this woman actually looks like that?

Sara Carbonero, TV sports presenter and girlfriend of Iker Casillas, goalkeeper and captain of Spain's world champion soccer squad? Well, yes, as a matter of fact she does. Even under pressure.
posted by Skeptic at 10:08 AM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


But maybe for some folks, makeup is just a choice, like piercings. Personally I think it looks icky, and young girls are conned into it by the fashion industry, but some people actually seem to like it.

rikschell, I'm going to assume you're male here. And I have to say, it always cracks me up when I hear or read men saying, "Oh, I don't understand why women think they need makeup, I love the natural look." When women are really good at putting on makeup, they can make it look like they're not wearing any, and you will just think they have really nice skin and good coloring. It cracks me up that men just assume that unless someone has bright blue eyeshadow on or something similarly striking, she isn't wearing anything at all on her face.

I work in a very male-dominated industry and people are constantly telling me they prefer the natural look and such, and how cool it is that I'm not like all those women out there who think they have to put a bunch of stuff on their face to look good. But when I don't have time to throw on my extremely minimal makeup regimen in the morning, someone always tells me how tired I look.
posted by little light-giver at 10:23 AM on September 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


The fourth one has no makeup?
posted by outlandishmarxist at 11:09 AM on September 18, 2010


Real Deal from Reddit a couple days ago.
God, Reddit is super white.
posted by piratebowling at 11:55 AM on September 18, 2010


The lighting remark reminds me of them putting Gabourey Sidibe on the cover of Elle

Discussion about that on MeFi right here.
posted by hermitosis at 12:11 PM on September 18, 2010


Oooh, going for the anti-fashion dollar. Yep, that's a big dollar there, says so right in this market research.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:14 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


little light-giver, I am indeed male, and I happen to know people who actually do not use makeup. And they happen to look quite presentable. Maybe you are hideous without it, I don't know. But a lot of women are not.
posted by rikschell at 5:54 PM on September 19, 2010


I ride public transit to and fro work every day. 99.99% of women are wearing some makeup.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:02 PM on September 20, 2010


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