Do Cindy Crawford and Beyonce get any say in how their images are used?
Earlier this week, we had a "leaked" unphotoshopped image of Cindy Crawford, which turned out to be from a 2013 photo shoot for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America.
The photo shows a beautiful Crawford in a bikini with evidence of some aging on her 48-year-old body: some wrinkling above her knees, some possible bumpy thighs, a belly that wasn't a six-pack.
Bloggers everywhere jumped on the bandwagon to praise the photo's realness.
But what was missing was any concern over who had leaked the photo to begin with. If it wasn't Crawford releasing the photo herself to make some kind of a point, shouldn't there be a bit more concern over who has the right to decide what a woman wants to show?
Maybe she's fine with it, but maybe she's not.
Who are we to say what the image means? How do we know if it's empowering for Crawford?
What is it about the photo that we are celebrating? That we are getting to see an image of a supermodel who is not absolutely perfect? We already know that the photos we see in media are retouched. We already know what unphotoshopped women look like.
If a woman wants to share photos of her that show her imperfections, then bravo, but if we are appropriating those photos in a questionable manner, then it's just not right.
Now, we have supposed unretouched images of Beyonce's L'Oreal ads being thrown into the spotlight.
It's starting to feel like a witch hunt. Let's take images we weren't supposed to see and use those as examples to prove that everyone has flaws?
Instead of focusing on finding ways to encourage women to feel good about themselves regardless of the perfected images that engulf us, it's as if we're choosing "beautiful" women to throw under the bus to make us feel better about ourselves.
It's like those sections in tabloids where they share photos of celebrities caught in uncompromising poses or without makeup or from a really bad angle. Why do we want to see those images if not to feel better about ourselves? If not to gain, if only for a moment, an opportunity to feel better than "them." To feel like we've caught them red-handed in their trickery.
To be able to point our fingers and say, look at you. You're not perfect. Maybe I'm not so bad after all.
That's not the best way to win this battle for ourselves.
By patting ourselves on the back and forcing select women to become our empowered heroes.
What if they don't want to be?
Are we only exposing what is ugly about ourselves?
Let's not get lost in our need to feel empowered by turning against each other. Let's not get lost in our need to prove to the world that we are OK just the way we are by hurting other women in the process.
Let's hold our heads high and let every individual woman decide for herself, how she wishes to be portrayed, even those women who we might feel unexpressed envy towards.
Let us not forget that every woman must create her own empowerment.