If Jennifer Lawrence Needs This Much Airbrushing, We're All Doomed

photo: Flare Magazine via Cosmopolitan

It's hard to believe that Jennifer Lawrence needs help in the beauty department, but one magazine gave her some.

A controversial GIF of the actress revealing how fashion magazine Flare airbrushed her 2011 cover has found new life on the Internet after an Upworthy author expressed outrage at what she says is a gratuitous hack job.

It appears the magazine elongated Lawrence's body, slimming her waist, thighs, and arms; boosted her cleavage; chiseled her cheekbones; and overly bronzed her skin tone.

It's a curious move given how outspoken Lawrence has been about the pursuit of perfection in Hollywood. In November during a live interview at Yahoo headquarters, Lawrence responded to an audience question, asking how young girls can deal with the pressure to look perfect, by saying, "The world has a certain ideal - we see this airbrushed perfect model image … you just have to look past it. You look how you look and be comfortable. What are you gonna do, be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb." That same month, during an interview with the BBC, Lawrence spoke of the pressure to be thin in Hollywood: "We have the ability to control this image that young girls are going to be seeing [in "The Hunger Games"] ... girls see enough of this body that they will never be able to obtain. It's an amazing opportunity to rid ourselves of that in this industry."

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And back in March, upon seeing the ads for Christian Dior's spring/summer 2013 collection for which Lawrence modeled, she told "Access Hollywood," "That doesn't look like me at all," adding, "People don't look like that."

The debate over airbrushing is endless. Does retouching images of celebrities - who already have access to the best beauty products, personal trainers, and private chefs - further create unrealistic body image expectations for young, impressionable women? Either way, the exposure to these airbrushed images have a trickle-down effect on society. One poll conducted by Glamour magazine found that 60 percent of women say it's OK to retouch their personal photos and 41 percent of women ages 18 to 24 do so on social media.

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The issue with Lawrence's cover isn't so much that it's airbrushed - it's that the areas Flare tackled were nearly flawless to begin with. Did Lawrence's already-tiny waist need to be further cinched? Were her cheekbones not high enough? The changes to the image may have technically been considered minor, but the result seems excessive.

"Everyone knows that most images in the media have been retouched, but being able to intellectualize something doesn't override its potential damage to one's self-esteem," Jean Fain, M.S.W., a Harvard University-affiliated psychotherapist and author of The Self-Compassion Diet, tells Yahoo Shine.
Since retouched photos aren't going away any time soon, Fain suggests that women make a pact with themselves to banish fat talk. The key, she says, is to view one's body as functional, not ornamental. Don't love your muscular legs? Consider how they helped you train for a 10K. Wish your hair were straight? Relish the fact it's a unique family trait. Adds Fain, "Appreciating your body from head to toe is the antidote to low self-esteem."

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