The fascination with unretouched photos of celebrities is real, so it was no wonder an allegedly unretouched image of Cindy Crawford posted by ITV anchor Charlene White blew up the Internet. The image of Crawford in lingerie with wrinkles on her stomach was later found to be fake, but for a moment there, the Internet was thrilled to see a more realistic image of a woman who has for so long been propped up, primped, prodded and Photoshopped into an unattainable ideal of beauty.
But if you ask Crawford, the whole situation was not her cup of tea. In an interview with Elle Canada, the model explained that she went back and forth about the situation. “I felt that [the journalist] was inauthentic because she acted like this was great but she didn’t check if I wanted this out or if it was a real picture. Why would seeing a bad picture of me make other people feel good? I felt blindsided. I was very conflicted, to be honest. The story had run a year and a half before, and the picture of me in that outfit was from the bust up. I know my body, and I know it’s not perfect, but maybe I have a false body image; maybe I think I look better than I do.”
Crawford says that although she’s glad the picture made people feel good, it also made her feel uncomfortable to see an unflattering doctored photo of her circulating the Internet. “We spoke to the photographer, and he was very upset because he didn’t put it out there. He said: ‘Cindy, I’m going to send you the real one and it’s nothing like that. It’s clear that someone manipulated that image to make whatever was there worse.’ It was stolen and it was malicious, but there was so much positive reaction [to the image]. Sometimes, the images that women see in magazines make them feel inferior—even though the intention is never to make anyone feel less. So somehow seeing a picture of me was like seeing a chink in the armor. Whether it was real or not isn’t relevant, although it’s relevant to me. I don’t try to present myself as perfect. It put me in a tough spot: I couldn’t come out against it because I’m rejecting all these people who felt good about it, but I also didn’t embrace it because it wasn’t real—and even if it were real, I wouldn’t have wanted it out there. I felt really manipulated and conflicted, so I kept my mouth shut.”
It is definitely a tricky situation. On the one hand, you want to promote a positive and realistic body image, but if your body doesn’t match what society thinks of as “realistic,” what is one to do? Crawford shouldn’t feel guilty for having an amazing body nor should she feel bad about having her body misrepresented, no matter how good it makes everyone else feel.