Beyoncé Sketch: Roberto Cavalli Explains Singer's Distorted Image

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Elise Solé
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Who dared touch Beyoncé’s curves?

On Tuesday, the world let out a collective gasp when Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli sent out a press release with a digitally altered image of the pop star wearing his latest design. The problem: Beyoncé's healthy curves were retouched to make her appear extremely skinny, triggering Internet outrage—and an explanation from Cavalli. 

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Cavalli tweeted a link to his Facebook page on Wednesday morning, “Dear Fans, We would like to clarify that the image of the gown created by Roberto Cavalli for Beyoncé is a sketch and not a photo, and therefore it is only meant to be a stylized and artistic vision. Roberto Cavalli loves women and more than anyone else has always exalted and highlighted the female shape with his creations, building his signature style on the glorification of sensuality and femininity.”

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The press release had included an image of Beyoncé wearing a colorful Cavalli gown designed for her “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.” Her waist had been whittled down considerably, her legs were elongated and spidery, and her arms looked frail. Also included were photos of Beyoncé on stage wearing the design. The contrast was shocking.

Twitter exploded with criticism of the image. Alex McCord, formerly of “The Real Housewives of New York City” tweeted, “She has the right face, but everything else? Not so much!! What did Roberto Cavalli DO to @Beyonce in this PIC?”, Jaden wrote, "So you decide to edit out all of Beyoncé's curves??" and @hollybrocks tweeted, “And the award for worst Photoshop job of ALL TIME goes to Roberto Cavalli for Beyonce's legs.” Comments on Cavalli's Facebook page were equally passionate. Dan English wrote, "This is a disgusting depiction of Beyonce, whether it's a sketch or not."

This is the second time within a month that Beyoncé’s body has been significantly altered. According to a May story published in the British newspaper, the Sun, the singer was “furious” over airbrushed images of her wearing a bikini for H&M’s 2013 spring/summer ad campaign. A source told the Sun, "When Beyoncé found out they had edited the way her body really looked, she hit the roof. She's a true diva and was furious that she had been given such a snubbing. Her people refused to give the pictures the green light so H&M were forced to use the originals." And the New York Daily News reported that a spokesperson for H&M admitted to having "discussions" about the images, revealing the star had final approval of which photos should be included.

Beyoncé couldn't be reached for comment and a rep from Roberto Cavalli directed us to their previously released statement on Facebook and Twitter and declined to comment further. However, in the past, Beyoncé has spoken up about body image. In March, when discussing how she lost her pregnancy weight after the birth of daughter Blue Ivy, she told Shape magazine, "Not everyone is supposed to be the same. Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you."

Of course, Beyoncé isn’t the only victim of airbrushing. In early June, promotional posters for the upcoming film “The Heat” (June 28) starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock were released. To the horror of fans, McCarthy's face and neck had been slimmed to the point where she was barely recognizable. In September, Lady Gaga appeared on the cover of Vogue, but a behind-the-scenes video of the star showed just how much the magazine had altered her body. And in July, a poster for "American Idol" portrayed a remarkably thin image of the normally voluptuous Mariah Carey.

So, if fit stars like Beyoncé are slimmed down, what type of effect does that have on the rest of the female population? Not a very good one, according to Erica Ives, MA, a certified eating disorder specialist. “Self-image is largely based on the subjective opinion of others and cultural ideals created by the media, which makes it difficult for women to determine how they truly feel about themselves,” she says.

“The danger of poor body image is that it’s a tough cycle to break; it’s so ingrained, even from a young age, and can hold you back in all areas of your life because you don’t believe that you have worth.” Here’s how to keep perspective in an image altering world. 

Make a list of your non-negotiable features:
Whether it’s long, thick hair or a bright smile, everyone likes something about their body. Keep a list of reminders that you’re beautiful and soon you’ll start to believe it.

Try this mental exercise:
The next time you start to think, ‘Ugh, my legs aren’t skinny” turn the negative into a positive. For example, “My legs aren’t skinny—and they’re strong” or “They take me where I need to go.” You’ll curtail negative thoughts and see your so-called flaws in a new light.

Realize that most celebrities are retouched: Don’t take photos of celebrities at face value—even the most beautiful stars get digitally altered. Understanding how retouching works is the key to rising above its harmful effects. Check out Youtube for educational videos or view this classic video by Dove called "The Evolution of Beauty."

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