Brushing Up on Airbrush

If you can get excited over a heavily airbrushed and art directed “nude” photographs of a cute-in-a-girl-next-door-way actress from The Office, when the actress in question is merely standing behind encumbrances, then I salute you. I can’t. It is not because I don’t have imagination or I object to the encumbrances. On the contrary, it is because the photographs leave nothing to the imagination. I look at these photos and see not one element of imperfection. I like the wrinkles on Ms. Fischer’s forehead, which have become more prominent in the third season of The Office. I don’t know if this is simply because Ms. Fischer is aging or because The Office is shot on HDTV. Perhaps it is because I am attracted to flaws.

Many years ago, only a few months after I had obtained a driver’s license, I worked behind the register at a burger joint. I got into trouble because I thought a girl who came in had a “cute nose.” My co-workers had observations comparable to the following equations:

girl = a01 + a02z + a03z2 + a04z3

girl = f (x, z)

However, they expressed these thoughts less mathematically, using phrases like “I’d like to nail her” and “What a piece of ass.” Even more strangely, they never revealed the precise vertices they had observed. They kept these to themselves. And they certainly had no intention of plotting these points on paper.

Anyway, when they heard that I had thought the girl had a “cute nose,” using my alternative mathematical criteria*, precisely because the nose was a tad overhooked by my co-workers’ estimation and because, well, they kind of wanted me to get laid so that I’d be a bit more relaxed, they then told this girl what I had said. And the girl came back through the drive-thru. And I felt ashamed. And I ran to the walk-in locker and stayed there freezing until she went away.

But I eventually learned to accept these strange impulses and began to see how women in magazines and films clearly didn’t reflect the lovely and flawed world I saw in front of me. Even the porn I downloaded in my twenties became more amateurish in nature. The Tommy Lee-Pam Anderson video wasn’t really all that interesting, and I had seen it in its entirety. I never thought much of breast implants.

So here we have Jenna Fischer, a comparatively “normal”-looking woman, whose normalcy is hidden behind endless Photoshop layers and who probably has features comparable to this girl’s “cute nose.” I don’t find this alluring at all. I find it extremely sad.

* — And I should point out that it’s disingenuous to portray all this through equations, for there are also feelings here that cause certain variables to be wildly exaggerated or underestimated. So this is an inaccurate science.


  1. I often wondered how our distorted media images of what is an attractive look for women to obtain has diseased my own mind and the general populace. With a hand on an idealist’s playbook and feminist text such as Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvnist Pigs, can we be free of our distorted sexual desires after being pummeled for so long? Or is it too much a part of our neurological subconscious, something Macolm Gladwell pointed out in Blink. I wonder about this often, if as a male I am inherently flawed and will always have some form of hidden sexism that will grow as I get older. Of course, I’m anxious as hell about things and try to fill up on Virginia Woolf and any feminist critical thinking. I try to attack the somewhat societal brainwashing I’ve been put to. The guests you had on for bat segundo for She’s such a Geek had a good suggesting of hoping for the future where men can wear dresses. I like the subversion. I’m wondering though if it’s too late, you know? If I am a male, can I break away from the sexism that seems to be expected of me, both in a social sense and a neurological-biological sense? I’m worreied.-a rambling insomnia-ridden first year college student who cringes somewhat at his own flawed use of ‘freshmen’ and ‘guys’. Long Live Literature!

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