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Airbrushing Double Standard: Brad Pitt vs. Sarah Palin


In October 2008, Newsweek magazine put an unretouched photo of Sarah Palin (b. 1964) on its cover – which left quite a few people speechless, and the Republican camp outraged, since 99.99999 percent of photos in print media are airbrushed, to remove wrinkles, blemishes and other “imperfections” common to all human beings.

Brad Pitt (b. 1963, thus a year older than Ms. Palin), recently grazed the cover of W magazine – close up, unretouched. I didn’t see any people running for cover. Or claiming this was outrageous. To the contrary, there seems to be something valiant about Mr. Pitt’s “rebelling” against Photoshop.

Could it be that there is a gender double standard at play? When was the last time we saw an unretouched photo of a woman, close-up, on a mainstream magazine cover? I can’t possibly think of any examples…

Why should we be shocked/outraged/or downright embarrassed for a photo of a 44 year old woman with a naturally wrinkled face and not have the same reaction when it comes to a man?

(You ask me, Sarah Palin looks beautiful in that pic, and Brad Pitt looks like he belongs to a different – older – generation compared to her.)

UPDATE: 01/30

The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly has a close-up picture of President Obama (I just love saying that) on its cover. It is unretouched – and thus shows all of his face’s fine lines. I didn’t read/hear about anyone objecting to it. Again, gender double standard at play here?