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Fraudulent Images Undermine Working Women’s Self-Esteem

Administrator Leadership, Self Image, Success Tags: , ,

Model Cindy Crawford Wishes She Looked Like Cindy Crawford


Fierce. Commanding. Powerful.

In order to telegraph power and stride confidently through the business world, women need to be power dressers. No matter whether you are in a corporate environment or at Google in jeans and T-shirts, women need to project self-assurance.

Are you challenged by trying to look put together, capable and confident, while maintaining your femininity, in work appropriate clothing? How about one of those boxy suits (a square jacket and an equally square shaped skirt) or the ubiquitous black pantsuit? Do slacks with a conservative blouse or sweater project competency? How about trying to find a dress in keeping with business conventions—not too short with a discreet neckline and without the flair that lets you go out clubbing in the same dress after work. What about the jeans that fit perfectly and flatter without flaunting your assets? How many articles have you wasted your time on reading about how to dress for success?

Try taking a look at media on the latest fashion for working women. You’ll find plenty of models effortlessly styling work apparel. Professional, sophisticated, business-like yet slightly sexy, these women radiate self-confidence. Just the image each of us would like to project. Check out Body Makeover in Photoshop and Body Evolution – Model Before and After videos for reference.

You know these images are totally fake. But the outfit looks so good on the model, so fashionable yet suitable for work; you find yourself buying it or something similar in the hope that you too can project that perfect balance of trendy and appealing yet acceptable for the workplace.

But when you put the same outfit on, it doesn’t create the desired impression. You still don’t have the panache of the model as she ostensibly heads out to work. Your body image and self-esteem plummet, affecting your ability to project self-confidence and poise.

Let’s give ourselves a mega-dose of reality and banish these self-deprecating thoughts. You cannot look like these models, ever. Because the pictures you see are fake and the women you are trying to imitate do not exist.

You already knew you are being manipulated in the time-honored tradition of advertising. High-priced models at the top of their careers have been selected to wear these clothes because they are extraordinarily beautiful. For a shoot, their hair is styled, and extensions added, makeup is applied, lighting is recalibrated, and outfits with perfectly matching shoes, handbags, and jewelry are selected by stylists. None of which happens in real life.


But there’s more, much more. I knew about photoshopping, but I did not realize the extent to which a woman can be utterly transformed. I watched two videos, (the links are below) where, after having received all the normal enhancements listed above, an attractive model was then digitally altered. Her body was completely reconfigured: inches were shaved from the stomach area; her butt was simultaneously made smaller and shapelier; her entire torso was elongated, first from her waist to her knees and then from her knees to her toes; her face was digitally reconstructed to be perfectly symmetrical; her neck was lengthened; her breasts were augmented; and all wrinkles, blemishes, and fat bulges disappeared. The result? A perfectly proportioned image that bore perhaps a faint resemblance to the real model.

Photoshopping has changed our cultural perception of beauty creating impossibly high standards and expectations. The line has blurred between fantasy and reality. What’s natural now appears unnatural to us. We forget what real bodies and faces are supposed to look like and fixate on an airbrushed ideal. Simple things that all bodies that are alive do have effects: Smiling leaves lines; Real skin folds, wrinkles, and bulges; Teeth are uneven and not flawlessly white; Real women’s physiques show cellulite, stretch marks, and pores. Nature created us as mere mortals.

If you want to stride authoritatively into a room looking like a power dresser, go right ahead. But no matter how “effortlessly” put together you look, sadly self-esteem and self-confidence come from the inside, not the outside. Dressing well is the easy part.  Working on vanquishing that critical, negative self-talk in your head is the real challenge. I dare you to tell that nagging, fault-finding voice to shut up. I dare you to tell yourself you look terrific. I dare you to tell yourself you are brave and strong and self-assured. Then head on out to work, shoulders back, smile on, and ready to take control.

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8 thoughts on “Fraudulent Images Undermine Working Women’s Self-Esteem

  1. Great article. While I still fall prey to some self-loathing after seeing models in magazines etc, it is short-lived these days. I took some classes…one assignment was exactly what you described: changing a pretty woman into a super model. I know it’s not real. Plus, now that I’m through menopause, what I’ve got is as good as its getting….and it’s just fine.

  2. The article promises links to videos. The only links I found (buff.ly …) just come back to the article. No videos.

  3. Hi! Looking for the links to the videos but can’t seem to find them. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you!

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