Another magazine another photoshopped woman

Seriously, why do magazines think that we won’t notice? Or are they truly going with the “a photo is just the beginning of our art project” theory? Becuase if photos are just an art project for them, then just fucking say it.

This time around Kelly Clarkson is the winner of the photoshop diet.


We’ve seen this done to plenty of other women in Hollywood, including my favorite America Ferrera. Kelly Clarkson’s weight has been an issue since her “American Idol” days and she seems to have weathered all the talk very well and with all the confidence most of us wish we had when it came to our bodies. That must be why “Self” wanted to feature her in their magazine. But why then would they photoshop her multiple sizes down? Even looking at the ‘behind-the-scenes’ video you can see that Kelly’s arms are larger in real life. “Self” comments that, “Our picture shows her confidence and beauty,” which reveals to me that they admit that they photoshopped the hell out of her, but hey she still oozes confidence!

Instead of pining over what corporate America wants us to look like, even when we love our bodies, I want to mention a new blog that I learned about at Blogher 2009: we are the REAL deal. It’s a body image blog whose core bloggers include the amazing Claire Mysko, Kate Harding, and Roni of RoniWeigh. It looks like a great site to gather to discuss how we came to hate our bodies, what some of us are doing to love ourselves, how we can get to be healthy and all that body loving stuff.

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30 comments for “Another magazine another photoshopped woman

  1. Alexis
    August 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    that blog looks pretty rad from a quick read-through. I’m putting it on my “check this daily” link list!

  2. kate
    August 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    It’s Self, not Shape.

  3. August 8, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    They probably airbrushed her face, but it doesn’t look like they shaved off any of her curves. She’s wearing a shirt with a little volume, so it covers the belly that it looks like she has in the other picture where she’s wearing a much clingier shirt. In the cover photo, her elbow isn’t in the shot. In the other photo, her elbow is bent, so it looks like her arm is bigger. She standing a little to the side on the cover, which further camouflages any belly. And the yellow circle is covering part of her butt. But in the other picture, she’s standing completely to the side, which shows off more of her belly and bottom. Basically, she’s posing on the cover to make her look thinner.

  4. sassy
    August 8, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I am so glad that Self magazine put a true superstar on their cover. I do not think they needed to photoshop her. I think Kelly is beautiful the way she really looks. Kelly inspires me because she is strong, confident, comfortable with herself, down-to-earth, kind hearted, outspoken, honest, intellegent, and extremely talented and humble. It would have been such a great statement if they would have put her on the cover curves and all. I bet Kelly would not have minded at all.

  5. August 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I’m still very irritated at WATRD because it focuses on self-esteem building for only a certain type of woman. I talked about this at mine, and Heather, the main founder of the side, responded in comments anonymously there.

    I appreciate that Heather says that they’re trying to get a more diverse voice in, but until that happens, I think I’ll pass. I’ve seen too many “real beauty!” ads that mean “real beauty! Except for people with disabilities!”

  6. August 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    What Anna said.

    Plus, I hate the whole “REAL beauty!” thing because it is trying to define what beauty is – and what it isn’t. Not cool.

  7. August 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Beauty, right now, is seen as conforming to a certain idealized standard. Fitting in a certain, narrowly-constructed box.

    Beauty, in reality, is not fitting in someone else’s box. It’s admiring and appreciating what you already are for what it is.

    The problem isn’t that the box is narrow. The solution is not to change the box to just be a different shape.

    The problem is that we try to judge people by their conformity to that box in the first place. The solution is to throw out the idea of that box altogether, and learn to look at people with an appreciative eye, seeking out what makes them their amazing selves.

    No matter how you change the shape of that box, it will still always exclude some people. Always. Yeah, you’re letting a few more people in, but you’re still working within a system that judges against a standard rather than making each person their own measure.

    That’s the problem with these campaigns, billboards, websites. Maybe they show a size 12 woman instead of size 2. But she’s still hourglass, with a perfectly flat (photoshopped) tummy, perky breasts, light skin, no blemishes, no deformities.

    That’s no success. And it won’t be a success even if you convince them to let a gut hang out. Or give someone a crutch. Maybe you make the standard less shitty, but it’s still a standard. Which means that many of us still lose.

  8. Veronica
    August 8, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Kate – Oops! Thanks for pointing that out. dunno how that happened except I was blogging on the run.

    Anna & others – Thanks for bringing the convo to a new level. Seriously. I haven’t read a lot of the blog, but from what I heard at Blogher and what I adore of Claire, I’m hopeful.

    Question…Does a project need to start off diverse for it to be taken seriously? This is a question I’ve wrestled with many times with different projects. Do you delay a project in order to have a more diverse group? Or work on diversification on the way?

  9. August 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    The fact that it’s not diverse in the first place really says a lot. When you try to make something diverse, it often times feels like tokenism. Like, “oh we need a disabled person here, let’s find a disabled person!”

  10. August 8, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Veronica, I can throw a rock on the internet and hit a bunch of sites that are about helping conventionally-attractive white women’s self-esteem. For example, the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, which WATRD endorses. Their website, in Canada, includes a bunch of slender white teens, one slender Asian teen, and an older woman who is overweight. There’s no First Nations women at all. There’s no women with visible deformities. There’s no teenagers with freckles or acne, for crying out loud.

    Another site of that nature doesn’t stand out to me, and it would need to do a lot of work to convince me that it was going to treat seriously the self-esteem needs of other types of women. And because it is a site that’s been linked to by at least two feminist-focused sites that I respect (Feministe and Shapely Prose), and Heather’s personal website identifies her as a “non-psycho feminist” (*cough*), I’m holding it to a standard that is inclusive of more women.

    I don’t know what Heather and her team are doing behind the scenes, but her outreach to people with disabilities has apparently been an anonymous comment on my blog. I think I may have done more outreach than that, simply by talking about the site on the Disability Community on Dreamwidth. And, frankly, Heather’s comments made me think the idea that there are women, who have disabilities, who may have just as many problems with self-esteem as “beautiful” women (she seems very nice, but her comments on my site rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and she never really engaged with them), as entirely new to her, and one she had never considered.

    There are enough spaces on the internets that don’t assume that me and mine exist. Cheerleading yet another is something I just don’t have the time for.

    So, no, unless there was some funding-related emergency that meant that starting the site without any diversity of voices was entirely necessary for the funding, I don’t think that yet another self-esteem focused site needed to be focused entirely on white women, and I think Heather and her team could have taken the time to consider that before pushing forward.

  11. August 8, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Oh noes, not moderation! *sobs*

  12. ilyka
    August 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Do you delay a project in order to have a more diverse group? Or work on diversification on the way?

    Not being snotty, but honestly, I do not understand that question. I do not understand how one gets from “hmm, almost all my contacts look more or less like me, live more or less where I do, make more or less what I make, experience the world more or less the way I do,” and so on, to “you know what?–We should all do a project! It’s fine! We’ll diversify later!”

    I mean, obviously it depends on the project, but a specifically women-centered or anti-oppression project, shouldn’t that include a wide array of women and people before it ever even gets off the drawing board? Isn’t that project going to develop differently depending on who’s in the mix from day 1? Because otherwise it seems like “diversity” is some goofy abstract luxury that you’ll defer “until later, when we have more time/resources/etc.,” and not integral to what you’re trying to accomplish in the first place.

  13. Kat
    August 9, 2009 at 8:11 am

    You have to check out this site (requires Java, sorry!)

    It has hundreds of examples of photo shopped images of celebrities and models, from the subtle to the down-right dishonest! The images fade between touched and untouched, to allow you to clearly see the difference and the changes that have been made.

  14. August 9, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I think it’s obvious, but in case it isn’t, let me add: youth is a given also.

    In fact, looking young is the whole definition of looking good, along with “thin”…

  15. Sheelzebub
    August 9, 2009 at 9:21 am

    These “real beauty” (barf) campaigns leave me cold because I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere as long as we buy into the fact that we must be deemed attractive. Changing the standards of what attractive is just means that other women are left out in the cold, and that we are still judged by our looks (while men are not, or at least, not to the extent women are).

    For once–for fucking ONCE–I’d like to see an article about an accomplished woman that doesn’t talk about her looks. That doesn’t gush on and on about “and she’s sexxxeee too!!” or some such shit. I’d like to hear someone talk about an accomplished woman without referring to her looks. I don’t see the same sort of rhetoric aimed at men.

  16. August 9, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Daisy – yep. We’re terrified of fat, sagging, wrinkles, skin spots, changing shapes. All things that we tend to get when we’re older. Coincidentally. And none of those things ever make it into these “real beauty campaigns”… they seem to be more focused on “Let’s keep the same standard, just change her size to the societal average instead of the model industry standard, but make no other changes whatsoever.”

  17. halime
    August 9, 2009 at 10:42 am

    so… if these women are the REAL deal, am i a “pretend” woman or merely a “fake” one? let’s take the word “real” out of the body image conversation, please.

  18. August 9, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Totally, Daisy. I keep forgetting, though, because (as you know) women become “beige” after a certain age, so it’s not like they still exist or anything /bitter.

    And WATRD did get taken to task enough that they acknowledged the whiteness of the site, but that’s not all that diversity is.

    *sigh* I don’t know. It’s not that I think We Are The Real Deal is some horrible site or a project to disregard, I’m just tired of this particular focus. And that the answer inevitably comes back to “Well, do your own site!” Because heaven knows that everyone who points out lack of diversity both has the time/energy to do so, and isn’t part of the dominant narrative. (Me being a white, able-bodied, middle-class, cis-gendered, child-free, under 40 woman and all.)

  19. Otown
    August 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Slightly OT but in the right-hand picture, she’s got some serious curvature in her lower back. I think once she’s standing more upright and straightening it out in the left-hand pic, her belly would be significantly less prominent. I’m not arguing the photo-shopping of the arms, etc, and I’m sure they’re still doing lots of computer ‘magic’ to make her look nothing like herself. I just cringe a little to see that kind of posture, and I think it’s making the disparity a little bigger than it really is. *Sheds a tear for Kelly Clarkson’s lumbar region*

  20. August 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Which posture? Cuz the magazine one looks a lot more painful to me! ;-p

  21. Bonn
    August 9, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I’m gonna agree that her posture looks a lot straighter on the magazine. It amazes me how much thinner people can look if they stand right. I grew up taking ballet, and a lot of that was learning how to stand well and hold yourself in. If I slouch and stick out my stomach, I can look like picture 2. If I stand properly, I can look like picture 1. Sorta. I can’t quite thrust out my butt that way.

    But yeah. Posture probably has a lot to do with it. And the rest is probably photoshop.

    And angles. Front can be far more flattering than side.

  22. Veronica
    August 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Anna & all…thank you for the comments on the diversification or lackthereof on WATRD as well as your thoughts on start-ups and diversity. And yes, when I say diversity, I think in the broadest aspect.

    I’ve heard some great feminists talk about how we need to just get moving and pick up diversity along the way. I get how if you have an idea how you want to get it moving.

    I love the feedback here!

  23. August 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    My posture happens to be very slumpy. This means that even when I was visibly undernourished and excessively skinny, I had to come to terms with having a tum.

    But, yknow. It’s how I can stand. I can’t hold “proper” posture for more than two minutes before I have to sit down for awhile. If I want to be able to stand upright, I’m gonna have to be slouchy. So be it.

    FWIW, I also think the white pants are contributing to this. Her lower half literally disappears, and there’s a sticker right over the back hem of her shirt which, if visible, would suggest a bigger ass than a once-over glance at the mag suggests now. Weird flowy shirt, awkward unteneble posture/positioning, overexposed white pants on white background, and a good dose of “airbrushing”…

  24. Lauren
    August 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I’ve never commented here before, but I’ve got to say, I’m not crazy about We Are the Real Deal, or specifically, Roni at WATRD. I only visited the blog once, but her post “Is it OK to Want to Lose Weight” really put me off. In it she goes on and on about how you have to love yourself, be happy with your body, and only then can/should you lose weight…for yourself. It just doesn’t make sense. I get the message that I should lose weight pretty much everywhere; I don’t need it in a place like that.

  25. August 10, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I would have liked to see her AS IS oozing her confidence and beauty.

  26. Alexis
    August 13, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    so… that whole “daily links” comment I made about the Real Deal? I totally take it back now. Holy. Shit. That’s a whole lot more privilege and ickyness than I expected to see on a supposedly progressive and body positive blog. Ew.

  27. Veronica
    August 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Alexis, thanks for the update. I’ve been too busy the last week to really catch up over there. Ugh.

  28. Alexis
    August 13, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I’ve been checking it fairly regularly. At first it seemed like a neat idea, then I started getting a weird feeling that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Then Boom! That post. The mod comments and “apology” are even worse. I really thought it would be something I could read that would make me feel good, but it was just one more thing on the internet that made me feel bad about myself.

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