Lena Dunham on Vogue (loves), Jezebel (not so much) and those Retouched Photos

Were you offended when Jezebel offered $10,000 to anyone who could produce the pre-Photoshopped pics of Girls' Lena Dunham’s Vogue shoot? Well, you’re not a bad feminist. And you’re not alone either –- Lena herself was more than miffed.

Vogue’s February edition showcased this funny girl in a variety of poses, outfits, partners and settings. In a decision that must have been made prior to coffee time, editor-in-chief Jessica Coen put a bounty on Lena’s “imperfections” and announced her offer. It wasn’t long before the originals came in – wow, were they shocking. And by “shocking” we mean “extremely minimal.” To be fair, a whoppin’ 80% of women feel uncomfortable with their appearance. Overly retouched pictures encourage this. It’s understandable that the editor of a feminist site would feel her sistah spidey sense tingle and want to do something. However, the decision was, as Lena put it, “a monumental error in their approach to feminism.” Vogue, in contrast, was a positive experience for Lena: “I felt completely respected by Vogue,” she explained to Grantland's Bill Simmons.

Perhaps it was when the scarcely retouched photos were showcased for the world that Lena’s resentment grew. She spoke of Jezebel's reaction to this with distaste:

"Instead of going, like, 'Hey, we kind of [messed] up. These images are not that retouched. Lena, enjoy the Vogue spread that you've been excited about since you were 8 years old.' They were like, 'She's not retouched, but she could've been.' It was this weird, almost, like, political maneuvering that I had trouble respecting."

So, why were the photos released? Was Vogue trying to make a statement? It’s hard to know. The higher ups are pretty cozy, but photographers and artistic vision aren’t compensated all that well and $10,000 might have been hard to pass up. Either way, they were quick to produce evidence that the untouched pics were real.

There are better ways to promote “real” (whatever that means) beauty. Aerie, for instance, vowed to halt Photoshop in their spring line’s ads. Then there’s this whole crazy idea that our ugliness is just in our heads (only a company that makes both chocolate and soap can solve this issue, apparently) and any improvement must start within.

We can’t shake up societal beauty standards on the daily, but we like to think we’re on the right track. Besides, isn't beauty supposed to be on the inside or something?

Image: courtesy of Grantlan's YouTube channel

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