An apparent unaltered photo of Cindy Crawford is circulating the internet (but not for reasons you might expect) and stirring discussion about beauty, how women are portrayed in the media and what “real” women look like. The unairbrushed bikini shot defies expectations: It is real, it is honest, and it is gorgeous.
The image of the 48-year-old supermodel in lingerie was apparently leaked from a cover shoot of Marie Claire magazine -- but not an upcoming one, it's already run.
The image of murky origins spread through social media (and how) on February 13 after British news anchor Charlene White shared it on Twitter, attributing it to Marie Claire magazine.
"... It features 100% non-retouched photos. Take a bow Ms. C," White wrote in the tweet.
Cindy Crawford's April spread in Marie Claire features 100% non-retouched photos. Take a bow Ms. C. pic.twitter.com/ttQz2BcRfg— Charlene White (@CharleneWhite) February 13, 2015
The same day, Marie Claire magazine said in a blog post that the photo was a leaked image from a shoot for a December 2013 cover story. The magazine said the photo "defies expectations—it is real, it is honest, and it is gorgeous."
"No matter where the photo came from, it's an enlightenment—we've always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more," the blog post said.
White told CNN, she first spotted the image on a friend’s private Instagram feed and sought it out on Twitter. She said she found it on a fashion blog whose name she couldn’t recall, and she shared the image from there.
Regardless of the photo’s origins, White said she took comfort in the image as a celebrity whose looks are constantly scrutinized.
“Women come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. I think it’s important to see all sorts of body shapes on our screens and in our magazines so that people have a true reflection of what people look like,” White said.
The practice of photo retouching in fashion publications renders most models completely free of blemishes or imperfections to the point of being unrealistic. But this photo of Crawford baring her sun-kissed torso is drawing praise for showing her in a realistic light.
The untouched photo has been praised as 'stunning' and 'inspirational'. Sample some of the responses on Twitter:
I think I crushed my husband's spirit by showing him the Cindy Crawford untouched photo. #ItHadToBeDone— Kathy Lynn Harris (@KathyLynnHarris) February 16, 2015