British actor Keira Knightley just explained the topless photo shoot she posed for in August for Interview magazine. She said:
That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: ‘OK, I’m fine doing the topless shot so long as you don’t make them any bigger or retouch.’ Because it does feel important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are.
With the topless photo, Knightley took a position in the battle over the female image.
Knightley objected to the many manipulations her body had undergone at the hands of Photoshoppers. It is a phenomenon with which any female celebrity is unfortunately familiar. She added:
I think women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame.
The battle is to the detriment of average women who look at these photographic images and try to compete. It’s a battle that has been going on for a very long time and has hardly been won.
You can see the photo here, courtesy of Hollywood Life.
British actors have a reputation for maintaining their natural appearances rather than undergoing cosmetic surgery and orthodontic treatment. Some casting directors are eschewing the sameness of American looks and turning to Great Britain and Australia for actors with a more natural appearance.
Director Shawn Levy told the New York Times a few years ago:
The era of ‘I look great because I did this to myself’ has passed. It is viewed as ridiculous.
American women need a repetition of the message.
Would that he were right. It seems that American women haven’t gotten the message. It helps for someone like Keira Knightley to stand up for the feminist message that women need to accept themselves as they are — and insist that society do the same.
In 2002, another actor sent the same message to the American public. Jamie Lee Curtis — possibly most famous for her role as Arnold Schwartzenegger’s fit and intrepid spouse in 1994’s True Lies — asked More magazine to do an unusual spread.
Curtis, then 43 and the mother of two, was photographed in her underwear without the benefit of make-up, a hair stylist, or any other enhancement. She looked completely natural, including her pouchy tummy and flabby thighs. You can see the picture here.
Flip the page and the next picture of Curtis shows ‘Glam Jamie’. Curtis looks sleek and sexy in a slim black dress. It took only 13 people and 3 hours to complete the transformation.
Is it a scary proposition for women to go natural?
When asked if she was scared to do that photo shoot, Curtis gave an answer that was similar to Knightley’s:
What I’m scared of is that that’s what women have become accustomed to needing to feel good about themselves. And show business and media and magazines don’t help by promoting these images of women that are completely airbrushed, that are completely altered, to then give you, the unsuspecting buyer, this fake sense of [that’s] what people are supposed to look like.
Twelve years later, with botox and pumped up duck lips thrown into the mix, the battle for self-acceptance among women rages on. There’s one hopeful sign in this story. Knightley’s recent revelation that she insisted on no Photoshopping seems to have garnered more attention than the original release in August of her topless photo.
It may be a small victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless.