On Female Beauty

The new Shape Magazine arrived in yesterday's mail, Jennifer Love Hewitt's bikini clad body in all it's airbrushed perfection on the cover. Grabbing it off of the sofa, Chloe started talking about the picture and how perfect the model's skin was. We talked about abs, and Photoshop, and about how Jennifer Love Hewitt had been persecuted in the media not that long ago for being too "fat" in her bikini. But mostly we discussed how real women's bodies just don't look like that.

This is a bit of a touchy subject in our household, given what I do. There's an awful lot of discussion of beautiful girls because I'm excited to share what's happening at the agency, and I'm acutely aware of Chloe's ears soaking up everything that's said. I try to emphasize how nice the models are that we work with, how hard they work, and that we represent all different types of women, but I imagine it's tough to sometimes feel that your mom thinks other people are prettier than you are. Maybe I should just say, "Oh baby, of course you are the most beautiful to me," which is true in my heart, which couldn't love her more. But I also strongly believe that we need to speak the truth about beauty, just like we do about any other gifts. There will always be someone more beautiful, someone more talented, someone richer, or better at math, and yet, we can each celebrate our own special gifts, our own individual kind of beauty.

Earlier in the evening I came across a terrific art piece on the Huffington Post, The Nu Project. This collection of nude photographs, shot by photographer Matt Blum, attempts to show women as they really are, in their own homes where they are most comfortable. It's a bounty of beautiful images of all different types of women, with all different shapes of bodies. Some are clearly beautiful by any definition, but most of them are beautiful precisely because they are real, because they are vulnerable.

NowThisLife.com - The Nu Project

I decided to show these photos to Chloe. We looked through them together, and there was a quiet respectfulness to the looking. It was a different attitude than the one we usually have browsing through a magazine. These are moms and sisters and aunts and cousins; these are clearly real women that could be our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones, our selves. It felt like an important moment.

NowThisLife.com - Macy's - Clinton Kelly

Today, I took Chloe with me to see our models at the Clinton Kelly event at Macy's. We're both big fans of What Not to Wear...it's one of the two shows Chloe and I watch together (the other being Bunheads.) The models were specifically cast because they are representative of a variety of women's body types. There is gorgeous Linda, in her 50's, silver haired and slim. Dena, of the megawatt smile, who is a size sixteen. Paula, a mature and sophisticated lady with a curvy lower half. Petite Nisha, with her lovely coppery skin and ample bustline. Delphine, a beautiful blonde who fits everyone's stereotype of what a model should look like...happy and fit and healthy.

Macy's had a terrific turnout for the show, literally standing room only. Clinton Kelly described each outfit as the models came out and walked through the crowd, and all around us I heard such positive comments. "Oh, she's got such a beautiful smile." "That dress looks so pretty on her." "That's so cute." "She's so adorable." "She's my age. I could wear that." Such a different reaction than I've seen at other fashion shows, where the models are all young and very thin. The audience truly appreciated seeing women they could relate to, women who made them feel good about themselves, women who were glowing and smiling, of different ages and races and body types. It was refreshing.

At the end of the show, Clinton addressed all of the "moms, grandmas and young girls" in the audience and talked about how the images that we see in the media aren't real, about the teams of people that it takes to make someone look like the model we see on the billboard. He told all of us to not hate on ourselves, that our bodies are a sacred vessel, the means by which we live in this world, the way that we love one another, that we move and experience life. It was such a wonderfully positive way to end the presentation, and he was so funny and caring throughout, while still being honest in his message about dressing to make the most of yourself. I felt good being there, and good sharing it with my daughter. Afterward, we went backstage and I introduced Chloe to the models, and to Sarah Kreutz, who did the styling for the show. Everyone was so kind to her, and she basked in the attention.

Sometimes, I wonder about this industry that I am in. Fashion can be such a strange beast...the extreme emphasis on youth, and thinness, and a very narrow definition of beauty. I worry about the girls that we shepherd through this career, and we do our very best as agents to treat them as we would want our own daughters treated. I worry about my girl, watching all of it. I try so hard to make sense of it all for her, to show her a path where beauty is something other than those images of perfection, where it is real and where it glows with intelligence and life.

And once in awhile, with help from so many caring people, I feel like I manage to get it right.

NowThisLife.com - Chloe


  1. Sounds like you get it absolutely right! In a size & beauty conscious world, it is so important to ground our daughters' thinking in reality, and it isn't easy. Good on you, Clinton, & the Amazing Nu Project.

  2. I loved that the models were all different shapes and sizes (of course you already knew that from my post). And as long as we put the way we think about fashion and beauty in the proper box, with some detachment, and not as our reason for living we can have a healthy relationship with it. Of course, it's taken me my whole life to figure that out, but whatever. :)

    Love your photo of the chair.


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