Impossibly Beautiful

We haven't had a male entry in this series since Clive Owen's ghastly Lancôme advert, mostly because men are generally allowed to look reasonably like themselves in ads and on the covers of magazines. But this photo of Matthew Fox on the cover of Emmy magazine is a good example of how men's freedom to age in public is slowly being eroded, too:

Zuh to the wuh? It looks like they recycled his head from some kind of leftover promo shot from the first season of Party of Five, and then airbrushed that into oblivion. Matthew Fox is 43 years old, and, minus the fake headwound and dirtying-up island makeup, he looks like this:

He has a wonderfully expressive face, and he's damned well earned the lines that mark it; the furrows and creases left by knitted brows and broad smiles are the legacy of being a successful actor, a husband, a father who worries and laughs. Erasing them hides the legacy of his lived life.

[Click to embiggen.]

Occasionally, when there is evidence that male public figures are being treated to the same demeaning "beautifying" processes that turn human people into mannequins, I hear someone saying some variation on, "Good. Let's get rid of that double standard!"

But adding unrealistic, dehumanized images of men to the vast ocean of unrealistic, dehumanized images of women, subjecting men to the same oppressively rigid beauty standards to which women are held, is hardly an improvement. It's a step forward only in a race to the bottom, and there is little to be gained by treating service to the lowest common denominator as a favorable equalizer.


By way of reminder: Comments that try to suss out what changes, exactly, were made, and even comments noting that, for example, the removal of laugh lines because they are ZOMG wrinkles actually robs a face of its character or humanity, are welcome. Discussions of how "he looks handsomer/hotter/better in the candid picture" and associated commentary (which would certainly make me feel like shit if I were the person being discussed) are not. So please comment in keeping with the series' intent, implicit in which is the question: If no one can ever be beautiful enough, then to what end is the pursuit of an elusive perfection?

[Impossibly Beautiful: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38.]

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