This Infuriates Me…

I think I might be banning SELF magazine … not because they photochopped Kelly Clarkson and admitted it, but for the reasoning/thoughts behind it. Click here to read editor Lucy Danziger’s post about why she chose to so drastically retouch it.

Sure, we all have good and bad pics … I only show the best of the best, myself — I think most people do. We aren’t going to make an album with the ones with our eyes closed, where our hair’s a mess, where we look terrible from that angle … that’s human nature, to want to put our best foot forward.

But listen to what she says:

“This is art, creativity and collaboration. It’s not, as in a news photograph, journalism. It is, however, meant to inspire women to want to be their best. That is the point.”

Um … OK, but then this implies cover-model Kelly isn’t her best as she is, and needs to be retouched, and not just minorly retouched. 

We’re not talking about seeing the best pics of her and just picking the cream of the crop for the cover; we’re talking about trimming, slimming, chopping the hell out of this woman — to the point where she’s not even HER anymore.

Fortunately, Kelly’s very self-aware and knows that they chop her to death, but still … it’s mind-numbing! 

Oh, and she goes on to say, “A cover’s job is to sell the magazine, and we do that, every month, thanks to our readers.”

Well, she lost one reader today. I won’t be renewing this subscription.

Is anyone else as outraged as me?

*Interesting side note, it was SELF magazine that led me to realize I was, indeed, a disordered eater.


41 thoughts on “This Infuriates Me…

  1. Yikes, that is HORRIBLE. I can’t believe some of what she says is supposed to help the situation. She cropped her thighs in marathon pictures?? She ran a marathon – shouldn’t she be proud of that and stop concentrating on her thighs?

    It definitely does not look like Kelly – I think that most women are inspired by her because she is a normal size and is SO confident.

    It is definitely an outrage!

  2. maybe it is my monitor but I am not seeing how they altered the pic that much beyond the usual smoothing of the skin, fly-away hair, pimples etc?

  3. Look at the Kelly in the video. It’s not even remotely the same person. They honestly trimmed like 30 lbs off her. At least. (And I love Kelly and think she’s beautiful regardless — but they mutilated her.)

  4. sorry, but that lady’s response in her blog is crap! “Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best. Did we publish an act of fiction? No. Not unless you think all photos are that.”

    you’re so right melissa – they didn’t make kelly look HER personal best…they made her look they way THEY thought was best.

    and she photoshopped her own marathon pictures?? sheesh. talk about vanity.

    also, i love the way she turns it all back on “us”: “Your job: Think about your photographs and what you want them to convey. ” sure, there are pics i have where i wish i looked different in some way, but if i changed them to make myself look skinnier, i wouldn’t be conveying the real ME. she just doesn’t get that.

    1. Exactly, Auntie. It’s even worse that she did that to her own marathon pics and now that she’s thin, she says she wouldn’t do it. Hello, double-standard.

  5. I was also infuriated by her explanation… as I am by the fact that the only reason she had to write it in the first place is that the “retouching” they did is so terribly obvious that they couldn’t get away with it.

    I find it so disheartening that the editor of what is perceived as one of the more reasonable fitness magazines has such a disordered view of beauty and health.

  6. I gained some unhealthy weight due to some severe stresses about 2 years after developing a rare autoimmune illness, so I have the opposite and probably less difficult weight problem (although my disabilities do rank up there), and I totally agree.

    Even Yoga Journal has moved away from having a fuller range of body types on their cover, and this probably has helped sales. But it’s the dishonesty of the piece, the rationalization that really make it disturbing.

    Self should have either ignored the whole thing or been brutally honest about it. But that part about being “the truest picture” is just… Ugh. Horrid.

  7. Melissa, I was just reading Lucy’s statement and saw your comment, along with the many others. I was going to do a blog post on this but you have said it all beautifully.

    I have been a Self reader for years. I know and accept that magazines retouch pimples, cellulite, stretch marks, heck, even slim a waist down from a 6 to a 4. But the hyocricy of the Kelly cover is infuriating. “Personal best,” my @$$. Why even bother to take a photo of her if it’s going to be a completely computer generated image? How can they preach self acceptance and butcher the true image like that?

    The worst part is, Lucy could have made it all better by showing us the real cover, coming clean, making an apolgy, and saying it went too far. But her adamant denial is disgusting.

    1. I hope she loses her role as editor for this. It’s a complete mockery of the magazine’s image and messaging. It’s a case study of PR gone bad.

      (Thank you 🙂 — you could always do link backs … a lot of bloggers are talking about it. Jezebel and You’d Be So Pretty If covered it today.

  8. It makes perfect sense. Nobody would want to read a magazine with a picture of Kelly Clarkson looking as she does in real life. People might actually know who is on the cover and want to read about them and who would want that? ***Please note sarcasm****. This made me sick when I read about it. I will not be reading their magazine anymore. I don’t think anyone would have seen a picture of Kelly as her natural size and not bought the magazine because of it. I don’t think Self is in touch with their readers at all which is very unfortunate for everyone.

  9. I love sarcasm Alis 🙂

    I bet anything this turns into a social media success story where she gets the boot b/c of public uprising in the online community. It’s a disgrace.

  10. UGH. I am going to make a comment on her blog right after this.

    FIRST of all, shouldn’t the editor of a HEALTH magazine pride herself on being strong and healthy, not vain? I know no one is perfect, but I know hundreds of strong, healthy women who never would have the thoughts that she did.

    The kicker to me is how she ends her article: “And go ahead and be confident in every shot, in every moment. Because the truest beauty is the kind that comes from within.” So, let me get this right; we’re supposed to be confident, because we know we can go in and photoshop our thighs or our cellulite later and look nothing like ourselves? And if beauty comes from within, why the hell are you changing people’s appearances so drastically?

  11. This SELF mag stuff is a prime example of what makes my blood boil to no un-end.

    Here’s the thing. That’s great that SELF wants to help us aspire to be our best selves, BUT….

    that should mean as we are and with what we got in real life. None of us can wake up in the morning and go, “Oh, how can I photoshop myself today so I look good for my client meeting this afternoon.”

    And yes these covers nowadays are art…a work of fiction.

  12. The response of the editor is poorly reasoned BS. If Kelly is so confident and comfortable with herself why did they have to edit her so much?? Looking good in photos is tough, especially to the subject in the photo, but I’d rather see a REAL person; that would make me feel better about how I appear in photos. And they wondered why we develop disordered eating??

  13. Kersten, she got soooo much flak for this, I can’t imagine we’ll see her in the October issue. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could collectively push her out for this!? Not that I wish ill-will upon anyone, but this is absurd.

  14. I haven’t read all the comments but my initial reaction when I saw this the other day was that I’m not impressed. I don’t really love Self anyway to begin with. My response to their reasoning is: if you don’t think she’s cover material as she is, why would you choose her for the cover? They wouldn’t put Queen Latifah on there and cut half her body off would they? So Kelly being this weight is not ok to them? what if she really is her best self right now? how do they know? she’s choosing to be this size so why are they deciding that that’s not ok? grrrr. this makes me very unhappy.

  15. I subscribed to SELF magazine for many many years… probably about 8 or so. But I canceled last year. I’m a recovering anorexic and finally last year I didn’t want any magazines that scream at me how to “lose pounds” or “lose inches” on the cover. Yes, it’s the cover that helps sell the magazine, but if they’re telling me the only way I’ll be healthy is by altering my body shape (perhaps even in ways that I don’t need to) then I didn’t want it in my home.

    This latest controversy just helps me feel better in that decision.

  16. Lissa, I am so glad you blogged about this story. I have been following it too.

    I am done with Self magazine (this cover along with watching Self’s Editor (Lucy D.) on She’s Got the Look’s final episode as a judge sealed the deal (for the record, my mom TiVos the show, not me). Funny comment from my mom after a few words out of Lucy’s mouth, “who *is* that woman???!!!!” (and not in a good way) lol

    Since there has been much talk (and many pics) in the press lately about Kelly’s weight, now young women (hell, all women) will see this Self cover and not realizing it was retouched will think this is the *real* body that launched all of the pre-cover press (hope that made sense ;-). This re-touched cover is yet another piece of coal in the fire fueling our body-image anxiety.

  17. sad. it is this kind of stuff that moms need to talk to their daughters about and be aware of, like dara chadwick advised in her book.

  18. Lissa,

    yes. I agree that Lucy Danziger’s response wasn’t the best. But I suggest that you look at your own disordered thinking here. You are a disordered eater. And one of the major components of EDs is paradoxical thinking (or black and white thinking), as well as the inability to tolerate imperfection, people messing up, being human. So, here, a mistake was made. Certainly. Every magazine cover is retouched. Kelly Clarkson’s weight is constantly being scrutinized, so this cover happened to be the target of lots of criticism. Just because there was one mistake (and I don’t believe the retouching was a mistake– every magazine does it), in the way Lucy responded to it, you are going to boycott the magazine that you have loved for so long. That is extreme black and white thinking. Be angry, but have some tolerance for the flaws, or mistakes of others. That’s what makes us perfectly human.

  19. Hi Lola – thanks for commenting, but I respectfully disagree, This outrage has nothing to do with my disordered thinking — I know every magazine is retouched (I accept that) and that isn’t why I’m upset — it’s because the editor claims she was showing Kelly’s “best” when that wasn’t Kelly’s body, not even close. It’s not like they just retouched her a little. They massacred her.

    While I am surely sensititive to it, there are hundreds of comments on Lucy’s blog saying the same thing (and around the blogosphere) about people being up in arms. And it makes a statement to not renew my subscription.

    I’m a PR person in my real life, and this was a PR nightmare that didn’t have to be for the magazine. The backlash is huge.

    And she doesn’t admit it being a mistake, anyway — she stands by her decision to tell us Kelly’s at her best but then to manipulate the photo beyond recognition.

  20. And I think that’s ultimately what upsets me most, that she didn’t think she made a mistake and doesn’t see the error of what she did.

    I know we’re all human and make mistakes; I’m guilty of it, for sure. But it’s her attitude that has me most upset. (and all the other hundreds of commenters).

  21. Rigth, this goes way behond the normal retouch. They shaved lots of weight off of her. Kelly is not a model, she is known for her great talent. It is not her job to be a size 0 like it is for models who’s phsyical appearance is what makes or breaks their career. We expect cover models to be thin and in shape when the person is a professional model. But if a magazine chooses to feature a non-model they need to present them as is (of course with the usual hair, makeup, lighting, wardrobe) plus subtle retouching that you would expect. Not try to make them look more like the “social ideal”.

    1. Exactly, Lara!! They made her “Lucy’s ideal” and that’s just BS to me. I want to hear Kelly’s comments on it. I posted this also at WATRD … wonder how they’ll pick it up there …

  22. I am similarly infuriated by this. They take about 100 photos withthe best makeup artist, the best style, the best lighting and the best photographer, have her change outfits, and take another 100 photos. The best of Kelly’s best is in those 200 photos somewhere without retouching.

    The photo is meant to inspire young women? so they are inspiring us to an unrealistic ideal that was reached through hundreds of photos and then retouching? That is bullshit (excuse my French).

    As Lara said Kelly is not a model, but she is talented. Can’t we respect her for being talented and successfuly? Shouldn’t we admire her and be inspired by that? It’s ridiculous that Self magazine doesn’t expect their readers to respect people and be inspired for anything other than weight ad physical appearance. And I am offended by that personally.

  23. Lissa, after reading yogiclarebear’s comment, I just wanted to add that I think the YouTube video titled “Dove Evolution” is an important one to show our daughters in general and also when discussing a topic such as this one.

    1. Oh I love that one — love what Dove has done. In fact, they sponsored the WeAretheRealDeal group at BlogHer — which I couldn’t attend in the end … but still, very strong supporter of their initiatives.

  24. Just a random note but my friend did the retouching for the Dove video. She’s a photographer’s assistant and retoucher and she always used to show me the craziness that is retouching. It honestly is ridiculous what you can do with a computer program. After seeing her do retouching on a few different shoots I was cured of my will to look like the person in a magazine: the actual person doesn’t look like that person either!

  25. What pisses me off the most isnt the fact that Kelly was photoshopped but more the fact that the editor asked to photoshop her pictures of her marathon…

    Celebrities are used to be photoshopped on the covers of magazines, because hey, a slim and toned body and fresh face sell better than a regular looking woman. I dont agree, but this is how it works, we can live with this, we know the pictures we see arent real.

    But to ask to photoshop pictures of a marathon because you dont look your best… that is plainly stupid. Shouldnt you be proud of the accomplishment and forget about your thighs for one minute? Especially the thighs that made you able to run all this… Its a lie, to yourself and to others, and this should be unacceptable.

    I dont know where the world is going, but honestly, im scared for the future. Women are more and more obsessed and unhealthy and i dont know what is going in their heads, but people need to wake up. And fast. Life isnt all about appearance. Nobody will remember you for your slim body after you die. And what is sadder is that some people die trying to get that slim body…

  26. I’m really happy I stumbled upon your blog and read all the opnions about this story. I’ve been following it as well and am SO bothered by it! The image on the cover and Kelly’s own words inside the mag are COMPLETELY contradictory. I’m totally irked by it and surely won’t be picking up a copy.

    To play “devils advocate” on behalf of the editor for only a moment, didn’t Kelly/Kelly’s people have anything to say about the cover?? I’m not really savvy with this business but I would image they’d save SOME say in what went on the cover…non?

    Still I love Kelly and think that her natural image would have sold just as well, and maybe after reading about all these infuriated readers, better than her photoshopped image.

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