In her book Wild—From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed tells how startled she was when she looked into a mirror after three weeks hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
She looked like “a woman who had been the victim of a violent and bizarre crime,” she writes. “Bruises that ranged in color from yellow to black lined my arms and legs, my back and rump, as if I’d been beaten with sticks. My hips and shoulders were covered with blisters and rashes, inflamed with welts and dark scabs where my skin had broken open from being chafed by my pack. Beneath the bruises and wounds and dirt I could see new ridges of muscle, my flesh taut in places that had recently been soft.”
However, Strayed was even more startled when Vogue magazine published a photo of her.
The magazine sent a photographer and stylist, she explained last year at the Texas Book Festival in Austin. “I didn’t even understand what a stylist was,” she told the audience.
She was photographed after the Vogue people had applied makeup, arranged her hair and dressed her in clothes they had selected. “I was sure that this was going to be the best photograph anyone had ever taken of me,” Strayed said.
Finally, a copy of the magazine arrived. Strayed knew immediately that the photograph had been photoshopped—a lot. She looked very thin, and she looked as if she had big breasts.
A friend called to ask her if the magazine had found a model who resembled her, and her husband concluded that the woman in the photo looked like “an anorexic Fox news broadcaster.”
Her book and everything she has done “honors a different kind of beauty,” Strayed concluded.