More than 200 alleged unretouched photos from Beyoncé’s 2013 L’Oreal cosmetic campaign were leaked on a fan site called The Beyoncé World on Tuesday. The pictures of don’t make the superstar look bad—of course not—but they make her look different.
It’s a moment of celebrity disconnect. She is still beautiful, she is still Beyoncé, but the weird thing is she’s not airbrushed Beyoncé. The pictures of Beyoncé—from a 2013 L’Oreal advertising campaign—show her made-up, but with, as the Daily Mail puts it, “uneven and pimply skin under heavily applied foundation.” (See pictures below)
The Beyoncé we’re used to seeing and watching is absent. But the Beyoncé we watch is the imaginary one, and the one here, in these pictures, is the real one (albeit with makeup liberally applied), and it alarmed some of her fans.
The legions of her admirers came out in support online, criticizing the posting of the pictures, with many claiming they are not real.
The outtakes appear to be from Beyoncé’s adverts for L’Oreal’s Feria and Infallible products, which advertise hair dyes, lipsticks and foundations.
Due to the widespread condemnation of the images, though, the fansite has since removed them and has posted a message.
‘Due to the disdain of the BeyHive, we have removed the photos,’ the statement reads. ‘We don’t want to cause any drama, nor do we wish to start fan wars. Some of the things we have seen posted were just horrible, and we don’t want any parts of it. We were just posting the photos to share the fact that our queen is naturally beautiful, at the same time she is just a regular woman.’
While some of the reaction to the apparent pre-Photoshopped images was cruel, the majority of the ‘BeyHive’ – the adopted name for the Crazy In Love hitmaker’s millions of fans, collectively – supported the 20-time Grammy winner with kind and encouraging words.
Famed Las Vegas act The Chippendales led the way by commenting: ‘Unretouched photos of @Beyonce just prove she’s a real person and a natural beauty.’
@SprinklesnBooze stood by the 7/11 songbird writing: ‘Am I the only one that doesn’t think #Beyonce looks horrible in these untouched photos?! She still looks better than me on most days!’
@JamilahLemieux reasonably explained: ‘We know Beyonce is pretty. We know Beyonce wears a lot of makeup. You have exposed nothing but your pettiness.’
Meanwhile, others added that the leak of the images was ‘unfair’, while another added that ‘Beyonce is actually a human being, shocking!’.
@MelanieCoMcCoy added: ‘She’s still beautiful. We all have blemishes. Leaking those photos was in very poor taste.’
It’s a mystery how the photos were leaked, yet they emerged at the end of a mini-cycle of moments, in which the twinned fashion and beauty worlds of make-believe showed signs of courting the reality of how women look, and of celebrating physical difference to the size-zero norm.
The release of Beyoncé’s picture follows another mysterious release of another un-retouched photo, this time of the ’90s supermodel Cindy Crawford posing for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America.
Crawford is looking ecstatic, wearing a black bra and knickers, in a crazy-looking fringed coat, and with a stomach that has not been Photoshopped to sleek perfection. It has stretch marks, it is toned but not smooth and taut; the same for her legs.
There were many hurrahs when the photo was released, just as there will be for Beyoncé. Both pictures bring these idols of beauty down to relatable, sisterly earth: Vanity is one of the most off-putting aspects of celebrity, and these pictures appear to atomize that.
Given how controlled these celebrities are about what images are released of them, one wonders if they had anything to do with it. The pictures reflect as well on Beyoncé and Crawford as another set of pictures, contrasting doctored and undoctored images of Lady Gaga from a Versace campaign, did for the singer when they were released last April.