Lena Dunham's Vogue Controversy
Who would have thought that the biggest smackdown of MLK weekend was not going to come from the NFL playoffs?
While the ShermanCrabtreeRant did indeed blow up the twittersphere, the bigger flare-up was happening online as Jezebel, a website that typically champions women, seems to have picked on the wrong targets to bully: namely, Vogue magazine and known feminist Lena Dunham.
Jaws pretty much dropped twice - first as Jezebel offered a bounty of $10,000 for untouched original photos taken by Annie Leibovitz from Dunham's Vogue photo-shoot, and again, when those originals proved to be much ado about nothing. The alterations made were minor, but Jezebel writer Jessica Coen detailed the changes as if they were major with comments like Dunham's "neck made thinner" and "jawline made narrower."
Many readers were left wondering about the reason Jezebel would pull such a stunt, and others noticed that Jezebel had missed a point that should be really clear to any publication that presents itself as a champion of women - namely, that women's glossies like Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmo have come a long way in the past five years. There's now a considerable dose of financial advice, tech talk, career counseling, and diversity mixed in with romance fantasies and make-up chit chat. The very fact that Vogue chose to feature someone as unconventional as Dunham, in itself makes the point. In fact, Dunham has made it clear that she is happy with her body. She's constantly pointing out its imperfections and embracing them with her choices to be nude on her hit HBO show "Girls".
The battle has led to much speculation over the past few days over personal choice and body image.
According to Jezebel, this was a campaign against Vogue and not Dunham: "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."
But Dunham later responded to the backlash via Slate: “I understand that for people there is a contradiction between what I do and being on the cover of Vogue; but frankly I really don’t know what the photo-shopping situation is, I can’t look at myself really objectively in that way. I know that I felt really like Vogue supported me and wanted to put a depiction of me on the cover. I never felt bullied into anything; I felt really happy because they dressed me and styled me in a way that really reflects who I am. And I felt that was very lucky and that all the editors understood my persona, my creativity and who I am. I haven’t been keeping track of all the reactions, but I know some people have been very angry with the cover and that confuses me a little. I don’t understand why, photo-shop or no, having a woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing."
Dunham is joining Melissa McCarthy and Mindy Kaling, two actresses who also recently appeared on a major fashion magazine cover, Elle. Their images were also digitally enhanced and both sparked the same kind of debate as this one, and both actresses defended the magazine's use of photo-shopping to spruce up their photos.
In typical Dunham style, she ended the debate by having Vogue
release this gorgeous video
to quiet the noise over a shoot she is happy with.
How do you feel about Lena Dunham's images in Vogue? Which side of this controversy are you on?