Allure's Naked Celebrities Get Real?

Allure‘s “Naked” issue hit newsstands earlier this week, and the cast includes Maria Menounos, Debra Messing, Leslie Bibb, Taraji P. Henson, and Morena Baccarin. Now I’m all for taking your kit off — and these women are beautiful, nude. But what I wouldn’t give for a few more body shapes in here. By showcasing slender, tight-skinned women, Allure ignores larger, curvy folks, as well as those who look more mature in terms of age. Sure, Debra Messing is 43, but focusing on a 40-something who looks far younger than that still reveals the worn, past-it obsession with youth. Actually, Slate writer Emily Shire puts it beautifully: “While some of the women in the Allure are considered old(er) by Hollywood standards (early 40s), all of them conform to the conventional standards of physical perfection.”

The message behind all if this is that these slender, young, and young-looking women represent the ideal. And what the media gives us in terms of preferred examples has a very real effect on our lives. (Just the other day, one of the most stunning women I’ve ever met told me that she was too old to attract a partner. Utter nonsense!) Given the way the Allure celebrities speak about prepping for the shoot, they, too, were afraid of what the camera would see. Seaweed wraps, body rubs, juice diets … then there’s a subtle slut-shame from Morena Baccarin who doesn’t want to be “an overload, like ‘that girl is always taking off her clothes.'” This is for the art of it, she says, as if stripping down in a “cheaper” context would be considered tarty.

A great antidote to such a spread is the practically retro Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which made waves when it launched back in 2007. Those who remember these advertisements will know that Dove chose all kinds of natural, non-famous models of all sorts of ages, shapes, colors and backgrounds. And they were all gorgeous. Take a look at the pic here to see the kind of beauty we’re talking about.

Sadly, however, Dove is run by Unilever, which also makes skin-lightening products that are targeted at women of color — in no way does this constitute a commitment to real beauty. But my point still stands. If Dove can do it, Allure can do it, and others can, too.