We need politicians like Cindy Crawford’s latest photograph: unretouched
Recently, an un-retouched photo of Crawford from a 2013 cover shoot for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America shows the 48-year-old model as she actually looks prior to the image editing process. The picture has gone viral with observers praising Crawford for being “real.”
❤️ “@AureliaCotta: Thanks @charleneWhite for Cindy Crawford’s real photo. Without photoshop. This means a lot to me. pic.twitter.com/MggZWJwtEd”
— Charlene White (@CharleneWhite) February 14, 2015
While there is nothing wrong with the occasional book or movie to taking our minds to a different place, many of us spend more time in a virtual world than the real one. Our constant artificial diet has rendered many of us unable to truly distinguish fact and fiction.
It might have started by editing images of our celebrities into a customized concept of beauty, but we have since unleashed a culture responding to our every whim. Why bother with reality when we can simply customize another one for ourselves? We have gone beyond clothes, cars and home décor. Now, we can even choose news channels and media outlets that fit our demands. If we do not like something we read or watch, we flip a channel or click a link. In our own realities, everyone agrees with us. Unfortunately, we have allowed these customized fabrications to enter far more important aspects of our lives.
Imagine if many of our political leaders were unretouched.
By now, we all know it. We have heard one talking point after another: “Yes, we can,” “the war on coal,” “federal overreach,” “the war on women,” “let me be clear,” “pay their fair share” and “repeal and replace.” Those words often feel empty and contrived. Many of our politicians portray an image of what they think we want to see and hear. We accept the reality of political fiction in exactly the same way we consume heavily edited images of supermodels.
We knowingly embrace retouched politicians who sacrifice thoughtfulness and humility to become a cheap caricature of voters’ political preferences. We shudder at the reality that our political perspectives might be not be as perfect, their edges rougher and the path forward not so well illuminated. The truth of our circumstance and our interaction with each other makes us quite uncomfortable.
By trying to create a generic appeal, political leadership has repeatedly devolved into a consumption science rather than public service. If being true to a set of beliefs and perspectives results in political defeat, both the public and the candidate are better served. Waiting until after an election, leaving office or some other opportune time for authentic perspectives to surface puts perception over principled service.
Enough of the processed political cheese, the virtual friends and synthetic beauty. “Real” is not some random occurrence to be praised as a cultural exception; sober awareness is essential to our humanity. It allows us to extend grace after failure, to understand with empathy, and to grow because we are forced to consider a world that does not revolve around us.
If one picture of Cindy Crawford can make us see that “real” can be beautiful, how much more should we expect of those we choose to lead us?