Why You Must See Unretouched Images, And Why You Must See Them Repeatedly

There's a reason we're fighting to keep this unretouched image of Aniston on our website. And it's not just because we like her freckles.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page here: We're not picking a fight when we show images that have been crazily Photoshopped, or when we show you before-and-after shots of celebrities. We're not pulling some tabloidian "see celebrities without makeup!" or "look who has cellulite!" shtick. This is about the fucked-up imagery that is consistently and persistently gracing newsstands as the beauty standard to which we should all aspire.

For those of you who have seen, time and time again, these manipulated images — be it a retouched wrinkle or a dramatically trimmed waistline — and are aware of the reality behind them, you're maybe able to look at ads and mags and keep your head straight. Not necessarily, but that's the hope.

But remember that every day, a young woman somewhere sees one of these overly polished pictures for the first time…and has no idea that they're not real. She may very well have no idea that most waists don't really bend without a roll of flesh, that a 40-year-old woman actually does have some wrinkles, that no mascara will make one's lashes magically long enough to tickle her eyebrows. What the girl does know is that the pictures show What Is Beautiful. She thinks they are reality. And maybe she doesn't have someone in her life to point out that this is complete and utter bullshit. So we'll do that, and we'll do it over and over again just to make sure that everyone knows what's up.

And as long as we're on the topic of bullshit: the degree to which the female-targeted media industrial complex wants to keep these images away from you is shameful. To argue, as did the agency demanding that we remove the above image of Aniston, that it's the before images — those showing Jen with actual texture to her skin (god forbid) — that are the ones which are manipulated is an insulting leap of logic, one that assumes that other media professionals still believe that in real life a celebrity looks as fabulous as she does on a magazine cover (and I should note, the original hi-res images that we took down make a good case for the pics being real, even if the lighting is horrid). And make no mistake, Aniston does look flawless in real life, on the red carpet, on television and in films. But she might have a flyaway hair, or a wrinkle — and the idea that you might see these things preserved for posterity in a magazine…well, that's simply unacceptable! You might buy less SmartWater if you know that its pitchwoman has freckles!

They will fight to keep you from seeing a naturally gorgeous woman before she's been properly Photoshopped. Her gorgeousness is not enough; she must be superhumanly gorgeous. And there are whole legal teams who make their living making sure you have no choice but to to look at a lie.

Lord knows that I'm not perfect, that there are days when I simply do not like what I see in the mirror. And there are reasons for that that are deeply personal and reasons that are rooted in a youth spent immersed in these images. On those bad days, it's not easy to give myself a reality check, but I know it's all wrong, that it doesn't have to be this way. And if we don't make a fuss, if we don't scream and shout and pull out our hair every time we find more proof that we are being cruelly had — that's just another day that nothing changes. That's just another day that some young woman is force-fed a lie.

And that, too, is bullshit.

Earlier: This Is How Your Jen Aniston Sausage Gets Made

Related: Jezebel's Ongoing Coverage Of Photoshopping