Have you seen the newly-released photos of Britney Spears, taken during a photo shoot for a Candies advertisement? Word has it that Spears herself wanted the un-retouched photos released, along with the digitally “perfected” versions, so that “people can see the difference,” according to an article in The Daily Mail.

I love seeing un-retouched photos, not just of celebrities, but of anyone. I especially love when I can point them out to my daughter, and my son.

It’s not about criticizing someone else’s appearance or mocking the “flaws” behind the perfect public image. For someone who writes frequently about body image, as I do, it’s about tangible evidence of the impossible standards to which we often hold ourselves. To be sure, our “standards” aren’t real, even for the people who are setting the standard so many are trying to achieve.

Whether it was her idea or not, I applaud Britney Spears for letting these photos be seen. If you look, you’ll notice that even without re-touching, she’s still a beautiful woman.

And that’s exactly my point. There’s no need to turn real beauty into impossible beauty.

I included a chapter on re-touching in my book, You’d Be So Pretty If…, and I spoke about how my photos were manipulated when I was photographed for Shape magazine during the year I was writing the Weight-Loss Diary column. While we all know that magazine and other media images are manipulated and changed — rationally, at least — there’s something compelling and truly eye-opening about being able to see just how much images are changed.

Personally, I’m grateful when celebrities, models and others who grace the pages of our favorite magazines allow us a peek behind the “perfection." My favorite remains the Jamie Lee Curtis shot that appeared in More magazine back in 2002. I’m sure all who aspired to reach Jamie Lee’s level of physical perfection breathed a sigh of relief upon learning that she, too, was a real woman — still beautiful, but real.

It’s in the being real, with each other and with ourselves, that we find that sometimes all-too-elusive contentment of knowing that we are the best possible version of ourselves, “flaws” and all.

About the Author

Dara Chadwick

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

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