Tennis champ Serena Williams posed for Vibe magazine this month and her body looks a little different than usual.
We’ve seen this happen before. Women celebrities often fall victim to evil Photoshop culprits who, using digital tools (and their own personal preference apparently), can alter every body-type and blemish that grace the pages of magazines and websites.
A few months ago, we saw Kourtney Kardashian, only six weeks after her son was born appear on the cover of OK! Magazine – without her consent. Headlines promised readers all the “hunger-free” “diet secrets” to losing her “baby weight” and, in a clear display of false advertising, used a slimmed-down figure of the new mom to “prove” it. But that image came courtesy of Photoshop. And Kourtney made sure to clear her name of the magazine’s mess. See it here!
Why, though? Shouldn’t women be thrilled at the sight of their new-and-improved body – belly bulge, stretchmarks, and cellulite be-gone? Not necessarily, because “improved” implies we were worse off before, not good enough, and in need of some serious rehabilitation. And as much as those editors think they’re doing women a favor, what they’re really doing is putting unwanted pressure on us, both celebrity and non. And that’s on top of what we may have already self inflicted.
(OK! even claimed Kardashian only gained 25 pounds during her pregnancy, when she’d really gained 40. There’s nothing quite like a well-documented piece, sold nationally, to remind you that you’ve actually got 15 extra pounds to lose before the world is ready to accept you again.)
Now, we know that Serena Williams isn’t pregnant, but why did VIBE magazine feel the need to slenderize her hard-earned tennis champion-made body?
For someone whose muscles have assisted in her becoming a record-breaking player (for both African-Americans and women), why would editors be ashamed or uncomfortable in displaying them as such? In all their award-winning glory?
Is it because solid isn’t synonymous with “sex-symbol”? (After all, she is rocking the “Single Ladies” ‘do, first seen on Beyonce, who is, inarguably, the people’s choice for “ultimate” woman – must be all the curves, class, and sass). But at what point, does strength become less attractive and more intimidating?
It seems that when it comes to being a woman living in the public eye, there are a few stipulations: always appear womanly, but not matronly. And make sure to be strong, but not physically.