I recently wrote about the Australian media's efforts to label photos that have been airbrushed or otherwise re-touched. This week, the Web was awash with news items about three different covers of the latest French Elle magazine, all of which reportedly feature stars without make-up and without re-touching. Make no mistake -- these women are all still stunning and gorgeous. But they're not perfect.

For me, it's not so much looking at the photos themselves that does my heart good. It's reading the various comments from women on different Web sites. Comments like, "Wow, now I don't feel so bad about the circles under my eyes" or "I feel better about myself knowing that she has this [insert 'flaw' here] too."

I find all of this to be a giant step in a healthy direction.

Those comments show just how much media images of "perfection" affect us and our self-image. After all, it's sometimes difficult to stay positive when you're comparing yourself to something that doesn't exist and never could. Revealing the secrets behind the curtain, so to speak, changes things for the women and girls who see these pictures.

If we can look at the unenhanced and unpolished faces and bodies of these beautiful women and see that they're still beautiful, even though they're not perfect, then maybe...just maybe...we can learn to see ourselves the same way.

What a lovely gift to give to ourselves -- and to our daughters.

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