Naked Celebrities Show Their “Spirit” in Allure

So, let’s discuss the nude women in the May issue of Allure, shall we? It’s a photo spread called “The Naked Truth,” and it does not start off well:

Five celebrities shed their clothes and reveal not just their bodies, but also their Allure May Blake Lively confidence and spirit.

Indeed. There’s no better way to demonstrate self-esteem than by posing nude in a national magazine!

I’m sure taking the pictures was a life-affirming experience for all involved, but sadly, these photos do not provide the same effect for the rest of us. If I have to look like Eliza Dushku (who has three—three—personal trainers) to feel good about my body, I never will.

Also, how does getting naked reveal their “spirit”? Despite what some people (okay, men) I’ve met seem to believe, my personality does not reside inside my bra, and I’d think a women’s magazine would be more interested in fighting that notion than in furthering it. Or have I not mastered Allure’s little lesson in confidence?

“Just being female means we know how to hide our flaws—but this is a nowhere-to-hide kind of thing,” said actress Sharon Leal of Limelight. “It’s about embracing your body and feeling good.”

We may know how to “hide our flaws,” but that knowledge is gender-related only in that being a woman means our “flaws” are continually pointed out.

And why does “embracing your body” require taking your clothes off? The answer:

 “It’s important to do this to show young girls that beauty doesn’t have to be perfect,” said Padma Lakshmi, host of Top Chef.

Lakshmi has a scar on her arm from a childhood car accident, so she would know! I understand her concern, and it’s a valid one. But instead of teaching young girls that beauty doesn’t have to be perfect, maybe we should teach them to value themselves and others for something other than beauty. Maybe we should teach them that they can love their bodies without the need to prove it by disrobing. Conflating self-confidence with nude portraiture only reinforces the idea that our value lies in our appearance and sexuality.

Of course, confidence is inextricably linked with how we feel about our bodies. But I fail to see how painstakingly lit, gratuitously retouched pictures promote self-acceptance for anyone other than the women in the photos. Surely there is something more notable about each of these celebrities than the precision of her bikini wax.

One of the actresses pictured, Lynn Collins, told Allure that “It’s hard not to focus on vanity in this industry, because such a large part of it is about how you look.”  If only the magazine had realized that such an undue emphasis on appearance exists not just in Hollywood—and that photo shoots like this only exacerbate the problem. Next time Allure wants to demonstrate an actress’ “confidence and spirit,” a simple interview will suffice.

13 thoughts on “Naked Celebrities Show Their “Spirit” in Allure

  1. Holy crap!!! This is even worse than I expected! They all have the exact same, extremely thin body with extremely “perfect” skin. And OMG the boobs! I have never seen such a lack of different body types and sizes. Ugh. I have lost so much faith yet again…

  2. What somehow emerges, unintended, is that these women seem to genuinely feel as flawed as those of us who have fewer resources to put into constantly ‘perfecting’ our appearance. It suggests that, for women, the tendency to focus and zoom in on our flaws is inescapable.

  3. Ugh. I get that they’re trying to convey a message of “See? I’m insecure about how I look, too!”, but what it sounds like to me (and a lot of other women too, I’m sure) is: “Even though I won the genetic lottery in a major way and I probably spent more on my appearance this year than you’ll earn in a lifetime, even though famous designers are clamoring to make expensive clothes just for me, even though most mere mortals would kill to look like me and don’t stand a chance of looking anything like me, even though someone thinks I’m beautiful/sexy/pretty/whatever enough to be photographed for a two-page spread in a MAJOR NATIONAL FASHION MAGAZINE… I still think I’m inadequate.”

  4. “my personality does not reside inside my bra” – HAHAHAHA so true but so hilarious, I almost spit out my lunch

    Also, I couldn’t stand them yammering on about how they had to get up all the courage to pose naked and OMG they’re going to reveal their flaws. All of them have the “perfect” body and none of them had any flaws that I could see in the pictures. A month or two ago, Glamour had naked pics of some everyday ladies who stripped for the mag, I guess with the same premise (being comfortable in our own bodies, blah blah blah). Although all of the women looked GORGEOUS and honestly better than the majority of the US population, at least they DID have a bit of a tummy, or a little thigh flab, or whatever. They looked great, but they didn’t all look the same.

  5. Ironically I just saw this issue of Allure today while waiting for a haircut. And I wondered, “Do I feel closer to Eliza Dushku having spent this intimate moment with her highly mediated and airbrushed image?” The answer was no.

  6. you’re so right. there need to be more people in the world like you.
    you don’t have to strip to show confidence.i wish more people knew that.

  7. You should write to allure and tell them exactly what you think about this story. If it stops here the point doesn’t get across.

  8. Its easy to say you accept your body when you happen to have a rocking one. I’d like to see them feel so pretty witty and gay when they’ve packed on a few. A better demonstration of intelligence and spirit would have been to place the emphasis on their brains, not their bodies.

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