Is this a big deal?
On the court, she’s the ultimate athlete, and off-court, she’s become a role model for women and girls, and someone who seems to say what she means.
Serena Williams, 34, has become something of a poster-girl for body acceptance, daring, as she does, to have a female body complete with a bum, boobs and big strong muscles.
So when she posted a picture to Instagram of herself in a swimsuit with actor Colton Haynes and friend Val Vogt, it was examined minutely and found to be at fault.
As soon as Williams posts a picture to Instagram, it makes the news. Her body, the sheer audacity of it, is news.
This time, though, it wasn’t that her body is too manly, or that it is too womanly. It’s that she may or may not have used Photoshop to slim her waist.
There is a blurring around Williams’ stomach and the blow-up doughnut she’s holding that could indicate some editing.
To be honest, when I look at that picture, all I’m seeing are Serena’s magnificent bum and her happy facial expression.
She’d just announced she was withdrawing from the WTA Finals and the China Open and taking the rest of the year off to recover from injuries. Then, she took two friends and went tubing down the San Marco River in Texas. Fun, right?
Imagine being Serena Williams, who must constantly contend with critiques of her body. This is a woman who was described with her sister Venus as “brothers” who are “scary to look at” by the president of the Russian Tennis Federation.
Celebrity social media images — indeed everyone’s social media images — are often altered so that the picture we see presents them in the best possible light.
So much of what we see of women like Serena Williams is out of their control. Why are we surprised that when they can control the image we see, they do?
Say Serena Williams did photoshop that picture to remove some skerrick of tummy fat. What would the result have been if she hadn’t? Her Instagram feed would have been full of trolls calling her fat. Media outlets would have jumped on it. They’d probably have her carrying Drake’s baby by now.
I couldn’t care less if Williams slimmed her waist a little. She’s just like the rest of us — she wanted to look good in her swimmers.
Check out Serena Williams, doing loads of other things that aren’t photoshopping.