The latest Photoshop controversy is out and features Lena Dunham, the writer and star of the HBO series Girls, on the cover of February’s issue of Vogue. When these digitally altered images from the Vogue shoot surfaced, many were outraged with the results. One website, Jezebel, even offered a $10,000 reward for anyone willing to submit the unaltered photos, which they obtained.
Being both a huge fan of Lena Dunham and advocate for real bodies in the media, I was ready to join in on the attacks against Vogue. First, I was excited to read what Lena herself had to say about the photos. Lena is an outspoken feminist that promotes body acceptance and embraces her imperfections. She is also constantly criticized about her frequent nudity in Girls, which she explains is necessary “because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive”. You can imagine my confusion when the only articles I could find were of Lena defending Vogue and the photos.
“I don’t understand why, photoshop or not, having a woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing.”
She also tweeted in response to Jezebel’s $10,000 reward, “10k? Give it to charity then just order HBO”
Maybe she has a point. Obviously, I would prefer it if no digital alterations were made to Lena’s (or anyone’s) appearance. However, that’s the nature of magazines, and honestly I was expecting a more drastic difference between the altered images and their predecessors. Perhaps its time to focus on the positive: Lena is a talented and respected woman with a real body and that’s no secret. For her to be on the cover of Vogue is a victory for all advocates, and it’s silly to think Photoshop can take that away. What might be even more trivial is paying $10,000 for unaltered photos just to prove the obvious.