Friday, December 30, 2005

Oh, the humanity!

The internet, in case you hadn’t noticed, has changed everything. And by ‘everything’ I refer of course to access to embarrassing celebrity photographs.
Finally a little balance is entering the picture; a picture that since the beginning of time (or women’s magazines, whichever) has been airbrushed, shaded, re-thought, re-drawn and altogether re-imagined, re-presenting women as something akin to Superwoman.
Superwomen - with superskin and superthighs and superboobs.
Inhuman beauty – the excruciating standard of the new millennium.
So the reality is essential I find. And this isn’t a New Year thing, a resolution thing – it’s an essential thing, because in eleven days I am going on holiday. To a beach and bathing suit place for eleven fun-filled days of sun and sand and sucking in my stomach. Hence the need for embarrassing celebrity photographs. Because (and here’s another thing you wouldn’t necessarily know if the internet had never been invented) after scanning the various appropriate websites with even the most cursory of glances, no one with any sense would worry either a tittle or a jot about less than perfectly taught abs, or slightly jiggly glutes or even somewhat wobbly pecs.
Celebrities, we’ve come to see through regular navigation of the world wide web, are just as imperfect (and sometimes excruciatingly more so) as thee and me.
Tabloids you say! Rubbish I reply – because the typical tabloids are notorious for upping the unreal photographic ante with all sorts of exaggerated and photo-shopped visions and versions of worst case scenario famous folks who though human, are regularly presented alongside Batboy, surefire cures for cancer and the woman who gave birth to her mother. Its unreliable evidence: when I go looking for celebrity deficiencies I want mine hot, fresh, real and ready for their close up.
Celebrity justice internet style.
Just last week, I was considering adopting a fourth level vegan diet (you don’t eat anything that casts a shadow) when I stumbled across pictures of Tara Reid’s tummy on The Superficial. Billowing, bumpy and bizarrely puckered and pooched, it seems a botched liposuction treatment has repackaged the starlet and placed her in a container a few sizes shy of the contents.
I smile and pick up a potato chip – I have a better body than the erstwhile star of ‘Taradise’. A better tummy, much less weird non-balloony, unscarred breasts, not to mention the fact that I spend most days sober and wear underpants beneath my skirts. Compared to Ms Reid, I am as shapely as a Victoria’s Secret supermodel and as modest as Queen Victoria enshrouded in the darkest of widow’s weeds.
I am a babe. Compared to Tara anyway.
Encouraged by this initial, enormously satisfying research, I plow on through Awful Plastic Surgery. And here self-esteem goes into overdrive; I note that in comparison to the high-priced celebrity surgical shambles depicted, my lips look like lips… my nose looks precisely like a nose… and my bottom and nipples… are right where I left them.
Heaven. I am thinking of taking up pole-dancing and nude modeling.
Creating a monster you say? No, I reply – I have more than enough insecurities, obsessions and hard-earned humility to counter any unattractive over-weaning self-satisfaction.
Besides, just thirty seconds spent with a photo of Angelina Jolie – a mere ten seconds with one of Charlize Theron – and I am back to the whimpering, gibbering bundle of anxieties of yore; the girl who was thinking they should bring back the Bathing Costume circa 1920… the one that comes compete with bloomers, knee-length skirt, black cotton stockings and full-length sleeves. Oh – and sensible hat.
It’s a see-saw. One minute you’re gloating over Kirstie Alley, the next you’re groaning over Jessica Alba. On the one hand you’d feel confident going toe to toe with Britney Spears, on the other, you’re not sure the planet’s big enough for both you AND Gisele Bundchen. Not and leave you with even a shred of self-assurance that is.
I remember a story about an Elizabeth Taylor sighting, sometime around her Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf days.
“Oh my God, look - there she is,” says the middle-aged lady to her companion. “I remember when all I wanted was to look just like her!”
“Congratulations,” replies her friend. “Now you do.”
So I’ve come full circle. I no longer wish to compare and contrast myself with celebrities good or bad. I don’t wish to feel better because somebody else is falling to bits – or because somebody else got put back together with what looks like a few parts missing. And I don’t want to deride myself by odious comparisons to people who though spectacularly beautiful may also have achieved a particular look with the help of make-up, surgery and digital technology.
I want to be my own judge and critic and cheerleader.
I am going to Barbados and I am going to wear a bikini and I am going to know I am just as good as any famous movie star.
After all, I’m human. Excruciatingly.

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