Shape claims NO cover photo airbrushing

I’m reading the Editor’s Letter in Shape this month, which is titled “So, is that really our cover model’s body?” In the letter, EIC Valerie Latona shares reader mail from women who “believe we’re digitally creating sculpted abs and lean legs, or even shaving 10 pounds from celeb bodies.” But she “emphatically and truthfully” promises that “we do not alter stars’ bodies.” Latona says her magazine features ladies who are healthy role models and aims to give credit to women – celebs or real-world folks – for the dedication, hard work and sweat they/we put into their physiques.

This is a bold statement Latona is making. Really? Shape doesn’t alter celeb bodies at all? I enjoy reading this magazine (indeed, I’ve written a few body image articles and essays for them - I think Shape is one of a handful of mags out there with articles that help promote truly healthy eating and show diversity in their models) but this seems like an incredibly bold statement. Nowadays, everything is airbrushed - even my book jacket photo was retouched…and that was for a book on body image! It seems unfathomable that celebs don’t get any cellulite brushed away or abs shaded in or extra cleavage when posing in teeny bikinis for a magazine cover that will reach millions.

Angie Harmon was on Shape’s cover in November 2007 with the accompanying byline, "Angie Harmon: How she got this body. No gym. No trainer." And apparently no airbushing?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 48 (!!), is about to appear on the March 2009 cover with some seriously CUT abs. The amazingly bad dancer (but only on Seinfeld!) with two sons, age 16 and 11, says she has to "work hard at not being fat" but that “two eggs fried in olive oil and a slice of whole wheat toast with honey” helps her  stay satisfied and keep her seemingly unreal figure.

And in October, I wrote about Faith Hill on the cover of Shape at age 41. The mother of three credited her MILF-y physique to daily four-mile elliptical sessions, light weights, crunches, push-ups, and thrice-weekly Pilates classes. I felt jaded saying so, but I couldn’t help believing she – and all other magazine cover models – had been airbrushed at least a teeny, tiny bit.

Some other covers for your consideration/inspection:

Hilary Duff

Ali Larter

Tyra Banks

Jaime Lee Pressly

Heather Graham

Whaddayouthink? Do you buy the "no airbrushing" claim? I could only hope it's real...although if it is, that seriously saps the consolation I always feel with the thought, "Of course Celeb So-and-so doesn't have cellulite - she's retouched!"

PS One of my proudest moments ever occurred when that Ali Larter cover arrived in my mailbox and, upon my slapping the mag down on our kitchen island, my husband picked it up, surveyed the landscape and exclaimed, “Oh, puh-lease! She is SO AIRBRUSHED!” I rubbed my hands together in evil joy and muttered, “It’s all working out for me. Heh, heh, heh.”

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