I’ve always loved People magazine–it’s my favorite grocery store guilty pleasure–and I anxiously await that time of year when the “World’s Most Beautiful People” issue hits the racks. Not sure why this particular one interests me more than others, but I love flipping through the double issue, admiring all the pretty people and learning about their beauty secrets and secret “flaws.” I probably have every issue from the last 10 years. For me, it’s fascinating to see how the magazine comes up with fresh, new ways of portraying beauty every year.
This year’s issue did not disappoint. In addition to a fabulous faces hot list, which covered everyone from shaggy-haired teen heartthrob Justin Bieber to 40-something actress Julianna Margulies, the magazine featured vignettes on Hollywood children who bear uncanny resemblances to their celeb parents and how they feel about those famous features they inherited (Meryl Streep’s nose, Phil Collins’ eyebrows, etc.) In a section devoted to beautiful “Jessicas,” lovelies like Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson dish about the roots of their name and how it fits them. What I loved about this issue, though, was the focus on self-confidence and how it shapes our looks–both how we appear to others and to ourselves. From thoughts on natural beauty from stars photographed without makeup to musings from celebs on what makes them feel “pretty,” even the world’s most beautiful people agree that beauty radiates from the inside out.
Which brings me to this issue’s biggest surprise. Every year for as long as I can remember, People magazine has chosen a “World’s Most Beautiful” person to grace its cover. This year that honor went to “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, star of the upcoming film, “Eat, Pray, Love.” Inside the magazine’s centerfold, readers can find an in-depth cover story about Ms. Roberts, a sidebar filled with her beauty secrets and a timeline illustrating how beautifully she has aged through the years. But if you look for her on the cover, you probably won’t notice her small head shot because another beautiful person steals the show: actress Sandra Bullock.
After weeks of silence following an Oscar win and the subsequent discovery of her husband’s infidelity, Bullock chose to open up to to People magazine around the same time the “World’s Most Beautiful People” issue went to press. In the magazine’s first true “breaking news” story published in a while, Bullock revealed that she and husband had adopted a baby boy months before–whom she would now be raising alone (because, as she also added, she was filing for divorce). Julia Roberts may have received the magazine’s “World’s Most Beautiful Person” designation, but the image of a glowing Sandra hoisting her adopted son up high in her arms stole the cover and the issue. It was the last thing readers expected to see after weeks of speculation about the Oscar winner and the betrayal she had endured. And it made her all the more beautiful, especially when she described to People magazine how she was coping with her deep disappointment: “Maybe I needed this to happen so that I could be the very best mother to Louis,” she said. “We wouldn’t know the sweet moments in life unless we had the pain.” Now, that’s beautiful!