I'm not entirely sure how it was that I found my way to the Daily Mail article on the pictures, but that's where I wound up. And sometimes it's not just "don't read the comments", but "don't read the article's commentary". Tucked in a short list of things that were digitally removed, I found:
Imperfections that can be clearly seen in the un-airbrushed shot include [...] her larger thighs ...
It wasn't quite seeing red, perhaps more of a lurid pink*. Whatever the other problems Britney has, embodies, and/or inflicts on the world, please acknowledge a few things about her.
She is an entertainer.
She rehearses the routines for each performance, whether it's to be a stage performance, a music video performance, or g-d knows what kind of performance.
She performs the routines for her music videos, which of course include multiple takes to get stuff right.
She performs live shows on stage.
She is a healthy young woman, able-bodied and clearly capable of withstanding hours of physically demanding rehearsal and/or performance on a daily basis.
Britney Spears is, if she is nothing else, an athlete who trains regularly for her job. She has muscular calves and thighs, like any other athlete who spends that much time engaged in a leg-intensive sport would have. She does not have the same legs that a woman of average build who takes part in ordinary activity but is not an athlete, has. She does not have the same legs that a very slender woman has. She does not even have the same legs that a plump woman who is not an athlete has.
Dear Daily Mail, classifying the proud muscular calves and thighs of a dancer as an "imperfection" does not even remotely help the issue that your article was trying to address, the impossible standards that women's attractiveness is held to. Even as you decry it, you're buying into it. Those legs are not actually fat. A good half of the leg-related photoshoppery, possibly more, looks to have gone into removing muscle mass, smoothing over muscle definition, making a flexible and strong woman look like a mass-produced, unathletic little dolly.
Stop doing this. Stop buying into the concept that every woman's ideal of beauty is the same. All of the types of women -- athletic, average, slender, plump, and more -- can have beautiful legs, and their legs will look different. Stop believing that beauty and femininity excludes obvious physical strength. It's all well and good that you're waving these pictures and decrying the concept that women are being held up to an impossible standard**, and that the standard is unhealthy, unrealistic, and damaging. But you're still implicitly reinforcing that this impossible standard is beauty, that women who fall outside of it also fall short; that they are authentic but less than beautiful. Don't fall into that trap.
Strength with grace is inherently beautiful. Don't even begin to attempt to tell me that you think it's not.
*I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that phrase today. Also, I dearly want more clothing in that color.
**[18:58] <cadenzamuse> although I still have this difficult-to-articulate niggling difficulty with Dove's campaign
[18:59] <cadenzamuse> something about them talking about "real beauty" when they're still trying to sell a product
[18:59] <mathsnerd> muse: me too!
[18:59] <cadenzamuse> I dunno
[18:59] <Azz_> The message is valuable, but they're riding their advertising campaign on top of it.
[19:00] <cadenzamuse> yeah
[19:00] <cadenzamuse> I think that's it
[19:00] <Azz_> They're exploiting the much-needed message in order to sell their product, and the fact that the message is desperately needed is carrying it everywhere, with the "this is an ad for us" rider.
[19:01] <cadenzamuse> yeah
[19:02] <cadenzamuse> they make it out to be some altruistic thing, when ultimately I still think they're only providing the needed message as a way to sell their product
[19:03] <jeshyr> ... their /beauty/ product, worse.