Unedited Lena Dunham Vogue Pics Prove Jezebel Is Mean Girl Central [UPDATED]

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.22.34 AM Hey, Internet! Remember that whole “feminist-when-convenient-site Jezebel posts a bounty for Lena Dunham‘s unretouched Vogue pictures” thing? Here’s the quick rundown:

  • Lena Dunham posed for Vogue. Her images were photoshopped, as nearly all images in magazines–particularly fashion-related ones–are.
  • Jezebel offered $10,000 to whomever was willing to send them unedited photos of Lena’s shoot under the guise of “creating conversation.”
  • People got upset with them. Lots of people. Lots of people, including their readers, felt it was a point that had already been proven and that this was just a publicity stunt.
  • They posted the pictures anyway.

I won’t post the unretouched images here because (A) I have no doubt that they would sue the shit out of us for reposting sketchily obtained pictures (B) IT’S STUPID. Spoiler alert! Vogue edited Lena’s pictures. To be fair, I feel like Vogue could sue them for posting their images this way, but I’m not a lawyer so don’t mind me. Here’s how Jezebel starts the post:

Lena Dunham and her fans, ourselves included, love her just the way she is. Vogue‘s opinion, of course, is another matter.

No. Vogue did what nearly every fashion magazine does to every other celebrity: edited their image. Should they do this to the extent that they often do? No. Hell no. But picking on Lena Dunham, a woman whose body has been critiqued to shreds by dissenters, rather than every other celebrity whose face Vogue has edited is ridiculous. We already know that magazines edit women’s faces and bodies to death, and while I understand that they chose Dunham because she is (whether people agree or not) one of the most significant faces of the current body acceptance movement, it still isn’t acceptable nor productive to spend $10K on photos that tell us what we already know.

Naturally, they made GIFs letting people know what Vogue altered from Lena’s images and added captions like “neckline brought up” and “knee raised.” And then there’s this gem:

It also looks like Dunham and Driver were pasted into an intersection in front of Manhattan’s Flatiron building. A shot we received shows her in a similar pose on his shoulders — but not in the same location. Doesn’t matter — Vogue puts you where it wants you to be!

Folks, I need you to know something right now that may shock you: NSync were not really in a puppet theater. They are, in fact, not actually puppets.



Okay, but really–who thinks it’s wild and crazy and awful that Vogue would put somebody on a different block? Maybe they didn’t want to stop traffic. Maybe there was something going on at the other location. Maybe they just decided they wanted a different effect later. That has nothing to do with Lena’s body or face.

They come to this rousing conclusion:

While Dunham has not been radically Photoshopped, it’s clearer than ever what kind of woman Vogue finds Vogue-worthy: The taller, longer-limbed, svelter version of reality. Vogue is not interested in reality, of course. The photographs are meant to be a fantasy, art.

Wait, holy fuck, the fashion industry prefers tall, thin women? Somebody get Obama on the phone; he’s got some ‘splaining to do.

Look, we all already knew that Vogue tends to put tall, thin women on its pages. While there are so, so many things $10K could’ve been better spent on, wouldn’t it have been at least a slightly stronger point to show how heavy the edits are even for women considered conventionally attractive? That the ideal for models who actually do fit in that 1% of being 5’11″, 105 pounds with clear skin, large eyes, full lips and not a single wrinkle still garners immense edits? That the barely attainable is actually made into actually unattainable?

I get why they thought this might be a good idea, kind of. The odd thing about working on the Internet, of course, is that we writers do often have to choose content that we may not feel like writing about because people want to read about it. Working at a blog doesn’t make it somehow your personal blog where you only write about whatever is most important to you; otherwise, I would write so many more posts about cats wearing costumes, the disgust I feel for non-plain cream cheese, and how to make super thick milkshakes. Nevertheless, I think you can usually take a certain angle on topics and put them in your own voice. It’s one thing to be TMZ and for everyone to know you’re pretty fucking mean about stuff; it’s an entirely different one to pretend your publicity stunt is something deeper and more significant to the whole of women than, well, a publicity stunt. I get that Neetzan is leaving, though, so I assume we’ll see a whole lot of this stuff.

But while I may disagree with Jezebel on occasion about things like blaming Chris Brown for being sexually abused and telling women that their selfies are a cry for help and Gawker’s decision to post a dead woman’s recently murdered body, their readers are often very intelligent human beings. Last night, I checked back on the comment thread for Jez’s Lena bounty post and saw so many people saying exactly what I was thinking, except more articulate. I would’ve posted a few of them here, but I didn’t screenshot them last night and they now appear to be gone:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.08.21 AM (Please let me know if you can still see the comments. I would hate to accuse them of deleting or suspending discussion in the event that my computer is just f’ing up.)

[EDIT: Apparently, it was just my computer. Sorry, guys! There are lots of very intelligent, better-worded comments. Here are a few excellent examples.]

Basically, many of the readers stated how disappointed they were with the site for doing this under the pretense that they’re helping women when this will in fact simply lead to trolls calling Lena fat, ugly, etc., and the rest of just seeing what we already know: that Vogue retouches images. One, if I recall correctly, simply said, “We’re offering $10,000 for $20,000 worth of ad revenue!” which was LOL-worthy as it was true. And it wasn’t just the readers who were upset. Diablo Cody considered this the same way Julia did: that it was mean girl behavior.

For the record, I wish the 10K winner had taken us up on our ecard offer. :(

UPDATE: Look, I’m not all in love with Vogue now simply because I think Jezebel’s $10K stunt sucks, but it responded in the best possible way:

Share This Post:
    • CMJ

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again: FUCK OFF, JEZEBEL.

      Those photos are not egregiously photoshopped. Congrats of jumping the shark.

      • G.E. Phillips

        I completely agree, especially the cover headshot. She looks gorgeous in both photos. A lot of the retouching they did was due to issues with lighting/shadows, not to give a false idea of what she looks like.

      • Ourhy4104

        мʏ ғʀιɛɴɖ’ѕ ѕтɛք-мօтнɛʀ мαĸɛѕ $76 нօυʀʟʏ օɴ тнɛ ʟαքтօք. ѕнɛ нαѕ вɛɛɴ ʟαιɖ օғғ ғօʀ ѕɛʋɛɴ мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн нɛʀ քαʏƈнɛƈĸ աαѕ $1з946 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тнɛ ʟαքтօք ғօʀ α ғɛա нօυʀѕ. ʋιѕιт тнɛ աɛвѕιтɛ fox800&#46com

      • G.E. Phillips

        Sorry to break it to you, but your friend’s stepmother is obviously doing web-cam porn.
        You’re welcome. /Sadie Saxton/

      • Kay_Sue

        The whole thing was an exercise in pointlessness.

      • Sami Jankins

        Yep, yep. A lot of it just looks like poor lighting in the originals. They brightened them up which will make some shadowing look different. I was expecting some Victoria’s Secret missing limb stuff. She looks essentially the same. The fact that they are trying to point out “eye bags” on someone so young is sad. People’s faces move and have lines. Ugh…

      • Shelly Lloyd

        I think it is sad that they had to touch up the lighting in the photos. I hate to think of how much money they spend on those professional fashion photographers and then they do not get the lighting right.

      • Megan Zander

        If there’s such a thing as an internet slow clap, I’m doing it for you right now.

      • Katy Hearne

        unrelated: I just now realized that Fonzy jumped the shark in Arrested Development. It really is the show that keeps on giving.
        related: bleeeeeergh

      • CMJ

        Isn’t it the best? It’s my new favorite gif.

    • pattya

      thank you!!! i couldn’t agree more. why her pictures except to give people an opportunity to say terrible things. i looked at the retouching and it wasn’t a lot at all, plus like you said they retouch all pictures. how special for her to be put on the cover of vogue. let her have this! i agree the cover photo is basically the same, except for tone and color. if you don’t like it don’t look at it. we need to be more mindful and less critical of ourselves and others, especially when posting anonymous comments its cowardly.

    • CMJ


      • Samantha Escobar

        Oh my god you frequently win for best comments but NOW YOU HAVE OUTDONE YOURSELF.



        P.S. What's your Twitter handle? I want to quote you if you're cool with that.

      • CMJ


      • Fuzzy Coin Laundry

        I hope they sanitize the bird… after wards

    • kimmbot

      In my own experience, I have seen some major mean girl shit come from the commenters at Jez, as well. Also: please post about super-thick milkshakes. This is valuable information.

      • jeanie jay

        This! How do you get milkshakes to stay unrunny and awesome? This is shit we need to know, people.

    • Crayzcheshire

      They shined-up adam’s leg in the tub OMG-SCANDALOUS. and also lengthened the washcloth. the horror!

      • Samantha Escobar

        We all know that Vogue prefers long-limbed washcloths.

    • rebecca

      Jezebel isn’t mean girls, they’re not qualified to be mean girls, they don’t have the balls to be mean girls. They seem to just want attention and try really hard to make people like them. I feel sorry for them, how embarrassing to have to try so hard.

    • meghancnyc

      Congrats on the body shaming wrapped in feminist clothing, Jezebel.

    • drachemitch

      Women totally deserve that extra 30¢ an hour. I mean, how else will they be able to afford un-retouched photos so that they can call each other fat? Grow up! Little girls masquerading as adults. Even this article. Apparently feminism is about grown females acting like first grade children, and at best, middle schoolers. Why on earth do you all waste so much energy AND MONEY criticising each others’ looks? And then criticise each other for criticising each other! Childish!

      • Samantha Escobar

        You realize this is my job, so I actually make money discussing this, right?

      • drachemitch

        You answered none of the questions I posed. Also, “job” is a rather loose term for blogging. It’s nowhere near the pay grade for professional journalism. I wouldn’t crow too loud about your lack of opportunities.

      • Samantha Escobar

        Where did I body shame somebody? Also, oddly enough, according to Payscale.com, I apparently make more than a professional journalist. The more you know!

      • drachemitch

        I’m done discussing any of this. Again, you’re developmentally stunted. You’re a little girl still. You act like a little girl. You call people names and your language is juvenile. You are the reason why men do not allow women any power. Men have conversations and women have hysterical breakdowns.

      • Samantha Escobar

        It’s so awesome how you criticized multiple things that I then addressed, then got upset for my supposedly not answering questions but subsequently didn’t answer mine.

        Yes, you’re totally right. I should probably quit my job because drachemitch is upset yet keeps returning to our blog. :((((

      • CMJ

        Why body-shame when you can job-shame? amirite?

      • drachemitch

        I was unaware that a job was part of someone’s genetic makeup. Oh, you mean that she is genetically at a mental disadvantage. Well it was never discussed that she had developmental problems. Now I understand why she can’t stop calling other people fat.

    • Sariah

      Ugg. I stopped reading and commenting on Jezebel a good year ago and haven’t looked back. I’m feeling especially vindicated at the moment.

    • Joan Callamezzo

      Jez was wrong, but I love how their wrong was blown way the flip out of proportion on Crushable and The Gloss. As if The Gloss network is somehow leaps and bounds ahead of the Gawker network. (You’re not.)

      Pot meet kettle.

    • I Like Pizza

      I will happily send Jezebel unretouched photos of myself in pajamas for a mere $500.