FREAK OUT TIME! You guys, Self magazine digitally altered Kelly Clarkson’s photo for the cover of their September issue. They changed her body and her face so that she looks thinner and prettier. I think we should all get really upset about this and start bitching about the media’s contribution to unhealthy female body images, because this is the first time ever that anything like this has ever happened.
Self’s editor, Lucy Danziger, weighs in on the controversy on her personal blog:
Pictures are meant to tell a story, express a feeling, convey an emotion or capture a moment. Portraits like the one we take each month for the cover of SELF are not supposed to be unedited or a true-to-life snapshot (more on that in a moment). When the cover girl arrives at the shoot, she is usually unmade up and casually dressed, and could be mistaken for a member of the crew or the editorial team in many cases. Once we do her makeup and hair, and dress her in beautifully styled outfits and then light her, we then set the best portrait photographer we can on a road to finding a pose and capturing a moment that shows her at her best. … Then we edit the film and choose the best pictures. This is done in tandem with the star; the creative director, Cindy Searight; the photographer; and myself. Then we allow the postproduction process to happen, where we mark up the photograph to correct any awkward wrinkles in the blouse, flyaway hair and other things that might detract from the beauty of the shot. This is art, creativity and collaboration. It’s not, as in a news photograph, journalism. It is, however, meant to inspire women to want to be their best. That is the point.
Here’s what I think is interesting: Every single cover photo of every single women’s magazine since the beginning of digital technology has been digitally altered. Every. Single. One. That’s basically what Lucy is saying here. They Photoshop Kate Moss. They Photoshop Angelina Jolie. They Photoshop Jennifer Lopez and Tyra Banks and Gisele Bundchen. They Photoshop their bodies and their faces and their teeth and their lips and their lighting and the color of their clothing and their hair and their makeup. This happens always.
Why is the decision to digitally alter Kelly Clarkson such a big deal?
Because Kelly Clarkson is a big girl with an average face, and every woman who stops short of a size two and doesn’t naturally have Angelina lips and a button nose feels a need to defend Kelly Clarkson’s right to be a big girl with an average face. And that’s just fine, but I think it’s worth noting: We don’t throw hissy fits when they digital alter thin and beautiful women. Aren’t we, if anything, unfairly picking on Kelly’s plainness by causing an uproar over this photo?