Water is wet. The sky is blue. Beyoncé is imperfect.
All of these are fundamental truths, but somehow one just became evident yesterday after website The Beyonce World leaked more than two hundred un-retouched Beyoncé images from her 2013 L’Oreal campaign. In the “worst” of the images, which are eons more flattering than many people can manage for their VSCO cam–edited Instagram photos, Beyoncé’s face looks puffier than usual, mostly result of poor camera angles.
Despite the heavy makeup— this is an ad for L’Oreal after all— her jawline has blemishes. Her plump lips are framed with “laugh lines”, a genetic trait undoubtedly passed down from her mother, “Mama” Tina Knowles.
So no, these pictures are not “flawless”, an image Beyoncé— and near every other woman in the public eye since the dawn of photography and film— has tried to project for years. They are pictures of what an attractive woman looks like with harsh lighting and a professional grade camera zoomed inches from her face. And still, Beyonce looks imperfect and perfectly fine.
What isn’t fine, however, is the hysteria and backlash over Beyoncé’s unretouched photos, a response that was notably absent when an unretouched photo of supermodel Cindy Crawford began making the online rounds last week. That leaked photo, which showed Crawford with cellulite and a soft midsection, was an outtake from a photoshoot for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America.
American Marie Claire called the photo “real… honest… gorgeous.” CNN asked if Crawford’s cellulite was “empowering” and published an article that stumbled all over itself with praise for the image. Cosmo called Crawford’s photo, an “excellent reminder that ~unretouched~ photos are gorgeous, and so are our flaws.” There was so much praise for Crawford, you would have thought she published the image herself. She didn’t.
And I humbly ask, where is all the celebration and praise for Beyoncé’s unretouched photos? Instead, people have gone nuts.
I don’t understand the alarm, the type that led Gawker to title a story about Beyoncé’s photos “Uh-Oh: Beyonce’s Face Is Uh-Oh” and snarked, “[these] should make you and Solange feel a little bit more secure about yourselves.” Really? The feedback was so bad that The Beyonce World removed the unretouched Beyonce images from their website, and actually apologized for upsetting people.
“We don’t want to cause any drama, nor do we wish to start fan wars,” read a statement from The Beyoncé World. “Some of the things we have seen posted were just horrible, and we don’t want any parts of it.”
Look, these pictures aren’t Bey at her best, but they are certainly no worse than that weird and random time post- Super Bowl when Bey’s publicist asked Buzzfeed to take down images of her performing on the world’s largest stage. Apparently, Bey, like a normal human, makes funny faces and gestures when she dances. Shocker.
Just a point of note, those Super Bowl pics were unaltered, and Bey’s skin is unblemished. (Yes, I zoomed in.) Maybe that’s what her skin looks like everyday, and L’Oreal was an off-day, or after an I-didn’t-take-my-makeup-off-before-bed night, or she was stressed or was PMS-ing. Or maybe the woman just has uneven skin.
And, you know what? That’s entirely fine too. So is Beyoncé. Still.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk.