Intelligent Life — The Economist‘s lifestyle and culture mag — went where few (but increasingly more!) glossies have gone before: the unairbrushed cover.
Cate Blanchett fronts the latest issue of the bi-monthly, a cover choice explained by Intelligent Life editor Tim de Lisle on the magazine’s website:
When other magazines photograph actresses, they routinely end up running heavily Photoshopped images, with every last wrinkle expunged. Their skin is rendered so improbably smooth that, with the biggest stars, you wonder why the photographer didn’t just do a shoot with their waxwork.
Cate Blanchett, by contrast, appears on our cover in her working clothes, with the odd line on her face and faint bags under her eyes. She looks like what she is — a woman of 42, spending her days in an office, her evenings on stage and the rest of her time looking after three young children. We can’t be too self-righteous about it, because, like anyone else who puts her on a cover, we are benefiting from her beauty and distinction. But the shot is at least trying to reflect real life. It’s a curious sign of the times that this has become something to shout about.
But the cover doesn’t just make a statement about Photoshop, it also makes one about the sometimes dicey ethics of magazine photography. de Lisle explained: “Publishers want a recognizable person on the cover, with a real career; but they also want an empty vessel — for clothes and jewelry and makeup, which often seem to be supplied by the advertisers with the most muscle.”
We think Cate looks amazing, fine lines and all. She is, after all, genetically blessed. (She also appears to be wearing a little bit of makeup.) Of course, this isn’t a totally novel concept. Marie Claire featured an unairbrushed (and supposedly makeup-free) Jessica Simpson on its May 2010 cover, Harper’s Bazaar featured a fairly natural-faced Lady Gaga for its May 2011 issue, and Glamour pledged to tone down its use of Photoshop. Make Up Forever even did an entire unretouched ad campaign.
Still, we’re impressed: