How celebrity women going ‘au naturel’ impacts female body image

Nov 10, 2014

"Anna Karenina" New York Premiere

(L-R) Alicia Vikander, Keira Knightley, Joe Wright and Domhnall Gleeson attend the “Anna Karenina” New York Special Screening at Florence Gould Hall on November 7, 2012 in New York City.; Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

In an interview with “The Times” of London, Keira Knightley revealed why she posed topless for the September issue of Interview magazine. “I think women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame,” she said. In the past, photos of the waifish actor were retouched to enhance her chest, such as the 2004 movie poster for “King Arthur.” “I’ve had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it’s paparazzi photographers or for film posters,” Knightley continued with The Times, “That [shoot] was one of the ones where I said: ‘OK, I’m fine doing the topless shot so long as you don’t make them any bigger or retouch.’ Because it does feel important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are.”

In Hollywood, celebrity Jennifer Aniston goes makeup free for her new dramatic role in “Cake.” As well, Marion Cotillard playing a working class Parisian in the independent film “Two Days, One Night” agreed to having no makeup, no costuming, and the directors said they did not fuss over her lighting.

When celebrity women ditch makeup and Photoshop, is it helpful for “the conversation” around female body image? What message does it send to young girls? Is an actor’s topless photoshoot the right way to protest distortions of the female form? Are the bodies and faces of the pampered famous anything close to realistic depictions?


Shira Tarrant,  Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at California State University, Long Beach. She is the author of several books including “Men and Feminism” and “Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power.”

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