Oops, someone did it again… another feminist icon has been rendered “beautiful” through the magic of Photoshop. Thanks, but no thanks.
This time, Frida Kahlo is the recipient of the unwanted makeover. The Mexican painter is remembered for her unibrow almost as much as her self-portraits, but some blogger saw fit to remove her signature style in favor of something more typically pretty.
The resulting work basically speaks for itself, but, as Color Lines reports, the artist’s explanation for his or her “remastering” is even more offensive: “Really she’s a bit of a wreck. So this got me to thinking. What would have happened if her girlfriends had done the right thing and taken her to a beautician (which clearly needed to happen)?”
After digitally shaving the eyebrows, waxing the upper-lip hair, and lightening the skin… VOILA! Kahlo looks unrecognizable. Is she really “better off” now that she’s just another pretty face?
Besides, as internet commenters have pointed out, as an artist, Kahlo was obviously very interested in aesthetics. It’s not as if she looked this way merely because she never gave thought to her appearance. In fact, she deliberately darkened the hair on her face with makeup in defiance of Western beauty ideals.
If only this fool-hearted makeover were an isolated incident. A few years ago, Martha Washington belatedly received a makeover via “age-regression technology” to show us what she might have looked like in her younger years. The Washington Post began an article: “This just in: Martha Washington was hot.” Apparently, since we only have portraits of Washington in her older years, we normally think of her as, again quoting the Washington Post, “a frumpy, dumpy, plump old lady.”
But forget that grossness! This portrait is how we should remember her, back when she was young and sexy. Never mind that we’re not even sure she looked like this – it’s just nicer to imagine her this way or something.
Marie Antoinette got a makeover from a television series, Secret Life Of…. Digital artists and historians updated famous figures’ looks “had they lived in today’s society complete with cosmetic surgery.” Known for having crooked teeth, high forehead and small breasts, Antoinette was given braces, bangs to cover her face, and a boob job.
It looks like they also managed to eliminate all of Antoinette’s majestic intrigue.
Even famous modern day women get the same treatment. Hillary Clinton is constantly derided for the way she looks by media outlets — and heaven forbid when she actually does change her appearance, the news starts alleging she had plastic surgery. The folks at Pretty Your World have “been wanting to give Hillary Clinton some advice on her coloring.” Here is the makeover the site proposes:
Whoa. I’ll limit my comment to the observation that I’m not sure that masking Clinton’s natural beauty makes her look any better… or any more presidential, for that matter.
This year, artist David Trumble spoofed this trend of glamorizing feminist figures by turning the likes of Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks and Gloria Steinem into Disney princesses. Like most satire, it was misunderstood by some of its audience, and even more disappointingly, some liked the sexy, svelt new versions of the icons.
“Sadly, [my daughter] was immediately drawn to the sparkly dresses, but on the flip side, it made her ask questions about these women and she was genuinely excited to know each and everyone one of their back stories,” said one mother. It’s too bad the interest wasn’t there without the glitter!
Speaking of Disney, the company is guilty of giving sexy makeovers to even its own beloved characters. Brave’s tomboy, Merida, one of Disney’s least dainty princesses, got sexed up for some merchandise and Minnie Mouse was similarly made “leggy, modern, and glamorous” for a Forever 21 marketing campaign.
This trend of taking women – and female characters – that we love and assuming that we would love them even more if they’re made more “attractive” is downright absurd and damaging. By placing the focus on even accomplished women’s appearances, it reinforces the archaic notion that females are only as good as they look. We shouldn’t need to force women to meet conventional standards of beauty in order to idolize them.