French Elle’s No Makeup Issue Celebrates Natural Beauty

mr_c66ac56b4dbc47The most recent issue of French Elle magazine hit shelves earlier this week with an interesting (and might I say, refreshing) twist: all the cover models were photographed without any makeup or photo re-touching.

Most of the time when I see “Stars Without Makeup!” on a magazine cover, it’s on the front of some tabloid surrounded by unattractive candid shots of gorgeous stars like Jennifer Lopez in an effort to “humanize” them and make it seem like they’re more like us “regular” folk.  And I don’t know about all of you, but these sort of pictures always scare me a little–if  celebrities look this bad without their makeup, what hope do the rest of us have?  I know that I can’t ever leave the house with at least eyeliner or mascara on without feeling like I look sick.

So when I first heard about French Elle‘s “Stars Sans Fards” (literally meaning “without makeup”, but also suggests a sort of “openness”), I was a little scared and also surprised–it definitely doesn’t sound like something I’d expect to see in a magazine like Elle.

Once I saw the pictures, though, I was completely awed.

The women on the cover don’t look like what I’ve come to expect from those paparazzi no-makeup shots: they look absolutely beautiful. Why don’t I look that good without makeup on?  I love the idea of the “au natural” look, but I’ve never been brave enough to try it myself. I know what I look like before a swipe of cover up and a touch of blush – no one else needs to see that.

Of course, all of the women photographed for the magazine are actresses and models who are naturally stunning, and it’s not like these were just candid shots snapped as these women were walking out of the grocery store, but still. We’re so used to seeing them with tons of makeup or Photoshopped in pictures that to see them completely natural is shocking (in a good way).

It’s awesome to see such an influential magazine showing women in such a realistic way.  The un-Photoshopped, no makeup, simple hair and clothing look on the Elle covers isn’t something that’s likely to be seen on any American magazine, though, where expensive clothing and jewelry  and perfect hairstyles dominate the covers. Where photo retouching is so commonplace that we’ve all come to accept the perfect, unattainable beauty and body types represented in most magazines and advertisements as normal, when in fact it’s completely unnatural and doesn’t represent the common woman.  Here in the U.S., most women don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models, yet that’s what we all strive to look like because it’s what we’re told is beautiful.

But maybe French Elle‘s April cover is a step in the right direction.  These pictures show that beauty isn’t just attained by piling on the makeup, hair products, and designer clothes.  I’m not saying we should get rid of all those things, but I think that less focus should be placed on them as the standard of what is “beautiful.”  Let’s hope American magazines take the hint and start showing some more “real” and natural looking women on their pages.

That is true beauty.

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