Dear Women of the World,

That’s all of you (without exception). There is no perfect woman so stop thinking there is. Most reasonable men came to terms with this a long time ago.

Strangely enough, after a certain number of years comparing magazine images of women to the ones we see walking around, we’ve rather figured out there is something going on behind the scenes.

Many of us know about push up and/or padded bras. Some of us know about spanx (sorry girls). We’re largely up to speed on the effect of make up (though sometimes you can catch us out if you’re really good with a light touch).

We understand that spending 3 hours getting your hair done is a ritual and, no matter what the effect, you probably enjoyed the process in a way most men wouldn’t. Eight minutes in that chair is enough for us.

Real women do not look like magazine models. Even magazine models don’t look like magazine models. I know, I’ve worked with them.

My first time on the set of a fashion shoot I almost sent the model away. Despite the fact I helped pick her out of the model book of a top London Agency, I failed to recognise her when she showed up. This was a long time ago, we had chosen from a real book, not a website, and the process of choosing a girl was as bad or worse than you feminists can imagine.

I was standing in a dirty alley outside the trendy loft-studio in a fashionably downmarket part of London. An unusually tall girl came up to me and asked, with broken English, to confirm the address. Her hair was a complete mess, she had a blotchy complexion and she was wearing what appeared to be a plain blanket. I couldn’t see tits, legs or shoes. Frankly, I thought she might be begging.

She did have the right address and I asked what she was here for.

“I am working here today” she said.

“What do you do?” I asked her.

“I’m a model” she said.

“Are you really a model?” I blurted out before realising just how stupid that sounded.

Damn it, my first proper conversation with the exalted class of woman known as “model” and I stuff it up so dramatically.

I accompanied her upstairs suddenly registering that she was half a foot taller than me.

It was at this point she was whisked away by two other women whose presence I’d barely even noticed. One was called “Hair” and the other “Makeup”. They may well have had names, I never knew them.

One hour later in walked my bag lady from the alley. To say there had been a transformation would be to downplay Jesus’s water into wine transformation. The shoot was old school: Polaroids to test the light then shooting onto old fashioned film. No Photoshop done and none needed. Photoshop can do amazing things today but careful photography and lighting used to be able to do most of them.

Later on, during a break in photography, I actually summoned up the courage and spoke to her again. Even with broken English, she was clearly no dummy. I asked her about her appearance when she arrived.

“Nobody is paying me to look good on the Tube” she said. “Any makeup I put on, or anything I do with my hair is just going to be re-done immediately when I get to a job”. So this girl, whose entire living derived from a fabulous appearance, was perfectly fine leaving home looking like a vagrant.

Men see thousands of images of unattainable women. By the time we’ve been around the world a bit (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) we’ve figured out what goes on when women’s images are published.

I’ve watched, in awe, my wife deliver not one, but two children (the hard way). I know where those stretch marks came from ladies, and there’s no need to be ashamed of them.

And, as Lorde would say, we’re fine with that. We don’t expect a cologne will cause women to throw themselves at us, we don’t expect a beer to improve our physique and we certainly don’t expect all the women we meet to have nipples pointing at the sky when they take their bras off.

Normal men regard photoshopped women in magazines as fine art: it’s unattainably expensive and created to hang in galleries and be admired, not something you take home and live with.


Background: this post is in response to the manufactured outrage surrounding a photoshopped picture of Lena Dunham, the writer of a US TV show, that appeared in Vogue. This was revealed by the feminist publication, Jezebel, who actually put a bounty out to get hold of the original image.