- 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:
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: