In defence of airbrushed cleavage

Contrarian finds itself in the awkward position of having received 30,000+ hits for  a throwaway post about an MP who airbrushed* a modest trace of cleavage from her official Parliamentary photo. The two complaints I’ve received have  not dissuaded me from my initial judgment the story was both funny and peculiar enough to be worthy of posting. In the interests of equal time, though, here is an alternative view from Edmonton restaurateur and local food activist Jessie Radies:

The only reason you find someone airbrushing their cleavage funny, is because you are not a women with cleavage.

I’ve done exactly the same thing. Go for a photo shoot, get the pictures and then realize, “Oh, I love this picture but it has too much cleavage and it is not appropriate for a business head shot.” And have the photographer retouch the picture.

I bet it had nothing to do with Tamil culture or modesty. It is a professional making a decision about how she wants to be presented and what is appropriate.

(Radies supplied the photo shown here, the airbrushed image she describes in her comment. She no longer has the ‘before’ picture.)

I’m happy to close this thread now.

* MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan isn’t saying, but the evidence seems to be that she or her staff ordered the retouching.

Parliamentary cover-up

The Globe and Mail says Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, 29, might be “the most compelling of the new crop of young NDP MPs.”

She’s the first Tamil-Canadian MP, and so has become the de facto standard-bearer for thousands of Canadians who have felt defeated – militarily, in their country of birth, and politically, in their new home. As a 29-year-old woman from political cultures – both Canadian and Sri Lankan – in which older men make most of the decisions, she exudes the poise, organizing skills and confidence of an old-school political veteran.

How awkward for Contrarian, then, to report alert reader Mark Austin’s discovery of an evident cover-up concerning the estimable Ms. Sitsabaiesan (pronounced SITS-a-bye-EE-sin, according to the Globe). Driven by what we are certain was only the purest of citizenly motives, Mr. Austin carried out a Google image search of the compelling Parliamentarian and stumbled upon the thumbnail at right.

Seeking further edification, he clicked through to the underlying webpage source of the image, which turned out to be Ms. Sitsabaiesan’s official online Parliamentary profile. There he found the image at left, close inspection of which reveals — how to put this delicately? — certain modification.

The Google thumbnail that connected to the official Parliamentary page now seems to have disappeared from Google’s image search results, leading us to conclude that Mr. Austin’s search occurred in the brief interval before Google’s image search caught up with a change in the underlying page. A similar thumbnail, however, still cleaves to MP Sitsabaiesan’s page at the open-source website, which credits the image as “House of Commons photo.”

This persuades us that the photo on the official website of Parliament must have originally appeared in the (please forgive us) cloven version, only to fall under the Parliamentary PhotoShopster’s digital airbrush. This makes us wonder whether the bowdlerization took place on request from the NDP caucus, from MP Sitsabaiesan’s office, or on the Parliamentary website’s own authority.

In any case, Mr. Austin puts the entire question into healthy perspective:

[T]he anomalies of the last federal election have resulted in greater youth and diversity than ever in the House.  Let’s hope it injects new life.

Amen, brother.