One of the core tactics in Dove’s highly influential, if also questionable, Real Beauty campaign has been shining a light on the Photoshopping of our perceptions of female beauty. The overuse of the reality-impairing photo-editing software has been derided by Dove and many others for creating unrealistic cosmetic expectations of today’s women by not presenting them authentically. One photo editor has done some further landscaping in this uncanny valley, applying modern airbrushed aesthetics to the women of yesterday–specifically those portrayed in history’s most famous art.
Lauren Wade of lifestyle blog Take Part has started taking the same Photoshop tactics that make models look like even more extreme specimens and using them on famous paintings from the Renaissance and Impressionist eras. While the painters of these periods appreciated beauty as we do, their subjects were actual women of varying shapes and would generally not, as Wade notes on the Take Part site, fit into a size zero. But with the slimming software in place and the bodies newly unblemished, Botticelli’s babes are now way more bodacious.
“We’ve taken a digital liquefy brush to the painstakingly layered oils of some of the most celebrated paintings of the female form, nipping and tucking at will,” Wade writes on Take Part. “There may be something sacrilegious in that, but the same could be said for our contemporary ideas of beauty.”
Seeing the “improved” figures in these paintings makes the imbalance in ideals crystal clear. Perhaps if the artists behind the originals saw what today’s women aspire to be instead, they would have been less inclined to immortalize that.
Have a look at more images in the slides above.
And if you like the slides, check out this video about Pirelli’s game-changing 2016 calendar that celebrates women’s achievements and photographs them without regard to body-image stereotypes.