The controversial photos showed the women in their unretouched reality—and sparked a conversation about what it means to be beautiful.
Saying that Beyoncé is one of the most beautiful women in the world is like announcing that grass is green or Tom Brady is a good football player. Her stunning looks, plus her crazy-good singing skills, down-to-earth vibe, and sense of female empowerment, have earned her a legion of fans. So why was the "Beyhive" so upset when new photos of the queen showed up online? Because it turns out she's also an ordinary human.
Recently, several unretouched photos from a 2013 L'Oreal makeup campaign were leaked online, and we got to see Beyoncé in a way we're not used to seeing her. Rather than the perfect, glamorous face we're used to, the pictures showed the glisten of sweat on her forehead, a few wrinkles, visible pores, and evidence of acne—basically, how any of us would look like if we had a close-up shot of our faces taken with a high-definition camera after standing under hot lights in full makeup for hours. (See what happened when This Plus-Size Woman Asked Experts in 21 Different Countries to Photoshop Her.)
While most of us celebrated her unphotoshopped reality, some of her fans demanded the pictures be pulled down, saying they make Beyoncé "look bad." After the outcry, the site complied—but we think perhaps some people are missing the point. Her visible "flaws" only add to her legendary beauty. Sure, she has a few pimples. Who doesn't?
Similarly, we adore the recently leaked pictures out of supermodel Cindy Crawford pre-airbrushing. The 48-year-old mom posed for a December 2013 cover shoot for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America in nothing but lingerie and a fur coat. While the finished magazine shots looked immaculate, the unretouched shots showed a stunning woman with some wrinkles, sunspots, and bulges. Rather than make her look less beautiful (it's scientifically impossible for that woman to take a bad picture), it simply made her look beautifully human. (Meet 6 Inspiring Women Who Are Redefining Body Standards.)
While we wish that the pictures hadn't been leaked without the stars' permission, we're grateful for the conversation they started. Even though we all know that photoshop exists, sometimes we need to reminded of all the digital wizardry that goes into fashion shoots and ad campaigns. Perfectly smooth faces and immortal bodies only exist in a computer. Seeing these two stunning women look so human only made us love them more. They aren't perfect, and neither are we. Hallelujah!