Lena Dunham is on the cover of the February issue of Vogue. She looks fucking amazing. In fact, the whole spread is top notch. It’s quirky, it’s cool and, in one shot, there’s a pigeon on her head. #voguepigeon
To some, perhaps, Dunham looked TOO amazing — which is ostensibly why last Thursday, Jezebel — a popular “feminist” website — offered $10,000 for unaltered photos from the Annie Leibovitz shoot. And, within two hours of making that mean-girl request, Jez got the (alleged) photos and posted them.
The whys behind offering (a not small sum of) money for Lena’s photos, unretouched, are unclear. Let’s try to understand, shall we?
Was it to expose Lena Dunham’s “real” body?
“Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself ‘really’ looks like; we can see that every Sunday night or with a cursory Google search,” writes Jez editor Jessica Coen. “She’s everywhere. We already know what her body looks like. There’s nothing to shame here.”
OK, then. (But also, BULLSHIT.) So is it because you’d like to call her out on being body positive AND appearing on the cover of Vogue, that magazine-stand titan of ideal beauty standards?
“Nor is this rooted in criticism of Dunham for working with Vogue. Entertainment is a business, after all, and Vogue brings a level of exposure that exceeds that of HBO.”
Well, then. Is this actually about Vogue? (It can’t possibly be about Vogue.)
“This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she’s fine just the way she is, and the world needs to get on board with that. Just how resistant is Vogue to that idea? Unaltered images will tell.”
So, wait. Jez asked for — and got — $10,000 to prove an already well-proven fact? OF COURSE Vogue is resistant to the idea that people are just fine the way they are. IT’S FUCKING VOGUE. Anna Wintour has built an empire on telling people they are absolutely not fine the way they are. Is it not common knowledge that Vogue Photoshops EVERYONE? Is it not common knowledge that Vogue peddles aspirational, unattainable fantasy?
I do understand that the perpetuation of impossible beauty ideals via grossly manipulated photos is a real problem. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. As it turns out, Dunham’s photos went through some pretty standard tweakage. Some eye bags were removed, some wonky cleavage smoothed out. You know, the kind of shit you’d want fixed on a Facebook profile pic, let alone on THE COVER OF VOGUE. The work here is tantamount to a clever chin angle and a Valencia filter. A cursory scroll through Instagram reveals that no one’s photos are “terribly real,” Jezebel.
Meanwhile, Lena Dunham herself loves the photos and now has had to waste energy defending them.
So, in sum, this whole thing happened for literally no reason. Everything is exhausting/embarrassing. Hope you got all the clicks you were gunning for, Jez. Hope it was worth $10,000.