“Did I stumble into some bad lighting?” Cher Horowitz wonders dejectedly in Clueless when she can’t figure out why her date fled. It’s a question we might need to start asking ourselves of celebrities today, when every other red-carpet appearance seems to reveal a star with new, vivid plastic surgery (or what’s come to be known as “the Renee Zellweger treatment”).
Mary-Kate Olsen had her turn recently. She was photographed at World of Children Awards looking noticeably different, with what seemed like a more prominent jawline and hollowed-out features. On Twitter, some fans raged that her changed looks were the result of cosmetic meddling. “I’m so saddened by MaryKate Olsen’s plastic surgery decisions,” @JamieATD wrote.
But photographers said that much about red-carpet photography, from the full-on lighting to the downward angle, can alter a person — usually for the worse. “With red-carpet and paparazzi photography, it’s an on-camera flash,” New York photographer Roy Beeson tells Yahoo Style. “That means the light is coming from above the camera, straight on. Everything’s illuminated. It’s not like with a studio photographer, who will use another light source, which is generally a little flattering and softer. The on-camera flash is harsher.” Plus, there’s even more glare because “you’re also catching the illumination of the other photographers’ flashes,” Beeson points out.
Mary Kate Olsen pictured in November 2014 (L) and October 2014 ®.
Other websites agreed that the quick photography and not prolonged doctor’s visits were probably to blame for Olsen’s unfamiliar look. “This issue is more a matter of a bad angle and unflattering lighting more than anything,” wrote Caroline Goodard on the website SheKnows.com.
The camera angle could be important here too. Beeson says that on the red carpet “it’s usually a male perspective, someone taller looking down.”
Olsen is 5’2” so she was was most likely captured from an angle above her, which could make “the forehead become bigger, and the nose become longer,” Beeson says. What’s more flattering — and usually used in fashion photography — is a low angle, he says.
Olsen also didn’t wear her hair and makeup the way she usually does on the red carpet. She had on so little makeup (possibly just mascara) and such a minimalist hair style (with her strands simply tucked behind her ears) that some websites said she’d gotten “a make under.” Her eyebrows are also thinner than she usually keeps them; this sort of plucking can noticeably change face shape.
Her twin sister, Ashley Olsen, on the other hand, appeared with the thick brows, heavy eye makeup, and long, over-the-shoulder waves both usually favor — and looked like she always has.