Rachael Leigh Cook traveled to Washington, D.C. last week for the Healthy Media for Youth Summit, where she spoke out against airbrushing and “manipulated images” which she feels are “fed” to women and young girls by the media. Though every outlet has so far described her as the “She’s All That” star, Leigh Cook’s fight couldn’t be more contemporary.
Leigh Cook joined forces with Geena Davis‘ Institute on Gender and Media, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and The Creative Coalition for the summit, where she encouraged young girls to google “Photoshop Tutorial” in the hopes of educating them on what goes into making the images found in most magazines and news outlets.
“I did not grow up getting told about how manipulated the images we see of women and girls out there are, and I think it’s an absolute travesty that young women are seeing what the media is feeding them… It breaks my heart to be part of an industry and part of a machine that really pushes out these images and propagates these really terrible standards that are false.
“Nothing that you see is real, even if you look at what looks like a candid photo of someone, anything can be done. It is false advertising and false advertising is a crime so why isn’t this a crime? I’m just up in arms about it.”
While airbrushing and photoshop certainly got the brunt of her ire, the actress also opened up about the impact unrealistic standards can have on body image.
“I remember gaining quite a bit of weight on the first movie that I worked on because, ‘hey, free food!’. You’re at that stage where your body is just changing so actively, so it was a natural change, but I remember finishing that film and realizing that I had gained probably 10 pounds over the course of filming which is a lot when you’re only 5’2. I knew then that I needed to go and really try and get healthy. I went too far in the other direction and I worried my parents for a while, I think it’s fair to say.
“I think that it’s something that many, many teenage girls go through, especially ones that are achievers and ambitious. You’re looking for a sense of control, and when you’re in a really transitional phase in your teenage years, I think it’s a pretty normal reaction to develop food issues.”
Leigh Cook also raised a very good point: educating the public about airbrushed editorials is one thing, but the editing doesn’t stop there. “People need to know that there are actual lenses that are put on cameras that make people stretched out,” she explained. “If you saw these actors in person, you wouldn’t even recognize them as the people you see on TV.”
Though France may be in the process of trying to ban airbrushing altogether, that’s not necessarily the solution. Photomanipulation has existed long before Photoshop — and one would be amazed to see what can be accomplished by shoot angle, lighting, and lens selection. Magazine images are art — and should be viewed as such — but with the hope that all body parts and aspects of the human anatomy are kept accurate.
For her part, Leigh Cook takes a similar stance. “It’s just all a complete illusion and maybe it should be viewed as art, the way that art isn’t real. The way that a picture of a rose can be beautiful, but it’s not a real rose.”
Rachael Leigh Cook slams celeb airbrushing [Toronto Sun]
Rachael Leigh Cook Disgusted With Entertainment Industry’s Effect on Young Girls [Fox News]
Rachael Leigh Cook Encourages Young Girls To Google Photoshop Tutorial [FameCrawler]