Why Serena Williams’ August Harper’s Bazaar Cover Is Revolutionary

Take a glance down any magazine aisle, and you’ll see photo after photo of beautiful women who have become famous for doing almost nothing. In this environment, Serena Williams stands out as someone we’d be proud to show off as a role model for young women. The beautiful and strong tennis star is remarkable not only for her looks and friendship with royalty but for her smart personality and amazing skills on the court. This month, Williams gave us yet another reason to hold her up as an example. 

Serena Williams
Serena Williams | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Serena Williams does unretouched photos for Harper’s Bazaar

Williams showed off her strong, sexy figure in unretouched photos on the cover of this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, and looks absolutely amazing. The 37-year-old tennis superstar did a series of photos wearing gold dresses and wraps. The fact that her image is raw, and not photoshopped, is a beautiful example of what real women look like. 

The photos were a personal triumph for Williams, who has struggled with body insecurities in the past. In an interview with GQ, Williams describes how she struggled to find her place in a sport that doesn’t include many black people. “Tennis players in general don’t look like me,” Williams said. “Especially the top players or anyone that ever won Grand Slams. Nothing like me. So it was, ‘Can I win looking like this? Can I perform looking like this?”

Williams also tended to compare herself to her sister, Venus Williams. “I felt weird, like, my boobs were bigger than Venus’s, and my body was thicker. I was curvier. I was like, ‘Why am I not Venus?'” 

Their eldest half-sister, Yetunde Price, helped Williams get past her insecurities and jealousy of Venus. “I was really struggling,” Williams said. “And she’s like, ‘You know, everyone is different. You’re not Venus, and you’re never going to be Venus. You’re never going to be as thin as her, and that’s okay. And you’re never going to be as tall as her, and that’s okay. Nothing is wrong with that. You have a beautiful body of your own… And that’s when I first started being comfortable with who I was.”

Harper’s Bazaar has featured other celebrities without airbrushing

Although it’s far from the norm, there have been other celebrities that have chosen to pose for photos in Harper’s Bazaar, without the help of Photoshop. Inside the same issue, the August 2019 Harper’s Bazaar, which features Williams on the cover, is another beautiful, strong woman posing for a set of unretouched photos. Actress and model, Yara Shahidi, shows off her naturally curly hair, and gorgeous complexion. 

The October 2018 issue of Harper’s Bazaar featured actress and musician Zoe Kravitz in a series of unretouched photos. When asked if she had any anxiety about appearing in the unretouched images, Kravitz said: “I was a little scared when they told me. What scared me most was that I was scared about it. That made me sad.”

In a surprising move, the queen of filtered selfies, Kim Kardashian, even took part in a series of unretouched photos for Harper’s Bazaar, back in 2014. The image, along with no photoshop, also featured Kardashian nude.

“I might have a little bit of cellulite,” Kardashian told the magazine, “I might not be toned everywhere. I might struggle in this area or that. But accepting that just empowers me.”

The same story also featured, naked, and unretouched images of Joy Bryant and Amanda De Cadenet.

Natural photos empower women

In a world where almost every image we see has been airbrushed to the extreme, it’s refreshing, and healthy to see Harper’s Bazaar making an effort to include so many images of celebrities in their real state. Although these women still look amazingly beautiful without editing, the photos become a realistic standard to showgirls, instead of something they can never live up to no matter how hard they try.