Tag Archives: Vogue magazine

Fashion Magazine Covers Body Image Double Standard Photoshop Controversy Design Composition

The Ugly Truth About Fashion Magazines and Body Image-Photoshop Controversies

Fashion Magazine Covers Body Image Double Standard Photoshop Controversy Design CompositionFashion magazine critics claim they’re pushing for the industry to accept and feature beauty of all colors, shapes, and sizes. But why is it they don’t cry Photoshop foul when a pencil-thin model or celeb graces a magazine cover?

If it’s not a body image debate that’s abuzz in the fashion magazine world, it’s a Photoshop controversy that’s brewing. You can file Lena Dunham’s February Vogue spread under the latter, but unlike most photo-retouching controversies, this one failed to gain much steam.

It started when Jezebel, the popular feminist blog, offered $10,000 to the fashion magazine for the original images from “Girls” star Lena Dunham’s photo shoot.

Rather than discovering Dunham had been photoshopped to the extreme, the before-and-after photos posted on the site show only minor touch-ups—such as lifting the dress’s neckline, a tuck at the hip, smoothing a wrinkle, removing bags under the eyes—were made.

Many commenters on the blog were more offended by Jezebel’s “mean girl” attack on Dunham—criticizing her posture, pointing out wrinkles and other imperfections—than the use of Photoshop in basically making small enhancements to the photos that appeared in Vogue.

These days Photoshop has become a dirty word in the magazine industry. Once considered a helpful tool to make minor edits to avoid expensive reshoots, its use now is often assumed as a means of creating a deceptive image.

But, ironically, that controversy seems to bubble up when a fashion magazine steps out of its size-2 cover girl comfort zone and features a plus-sized celebrity.

In recent months, Elle magazine came under fire for “hiding” funny girl Melissa McCarthy under a baggy coat on one of its “Women in Hollywood” covers. And it was criticized again when Mindy Kaling—the Indian-American star of “The Mindy Project”—was featured in black and white on one of its “Women in Television” covers.

McCarthy and Kaling’s cover girl peers were featured wearing body-hugging clothing in full-color photos. Which led many to believe that magazine was subtly pushing a double-standard when it came to body size and ethnicity.

Both have publicly said they were pleased with their cover looks, but that didn’t stemmed the criticism. Even Lena Dunham said she felt her appearance in Vogue was an accurate reflection of her style. She told Slate, “I don’t understand why, Photoshop or no, having a woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing.”

The truth is that isn’t a bad thing. But this rampant distrust of Photoshop and demand for equality and acceptance of all shapes, sizes, and colors of beauty has created an ugly response.

Since when does anyone—ANYONE—take a perfect photograph? Where is the demand for unretouched photos of Beyonce, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Moss, and a hundred other skinny, model-perfect examples of beauty that are pushed upon us every month? When any one of them is featured closely cropped or covered up, where is the outrage that their bodies are being hidden?

The critics howl the loudest when a plus-sized star makes it on a fashion magazine cover, insisting that the industry still can’t accept more than one version of beauty. And just when Vogue seems to embrace the notion that it is in its pages, then some way, somehow Photoshop must be to blame.

Fortune magazine with Marissa Mayer_featured

Does Fortune, Vogue Magazine Controversy Suggest Women Are Stuck in Traditional Roles?

Fortune magazine featuring Yahoo! CEO Marissa MayerSo much for breaking the glass ceiling. Controversy stemming from recent Fortune and Vogue magazine issues suggests there are some things too powerful for women to overcome.

Vanity, thy name is woman, especially when it comes to appearing in a magazine. At least that’s what critics are suggesting about two very high-profile members of the fairer sex after their appearances in two recent magazine issues.

New Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is drawing the ire of women—particularly moms—after appearing thin and trim on the cover of Fortune magazine, which hit newsstands within 24 hours of her giving birth to a baby boy.

Mayer made headlines in July after being named the top executive of the search engine and web portal by becoming the first pregnant woman to be hired to such a high-level executive post.

The business publication wanted to feature Mayer on its cover when she was with child, but she declined. And the photo that the magazine did use? Well, that was a pre-pregnancy shot from a year ago.

Sure, she’s a high-powered leader of a company and maybe wants to just do her job without being judged as a parent—a la that controversial magazine article from The Atlantic earlier this year that basically concluded that women can’t have it all.

But to not even acknowledge the little miracle? Well, that just won’t do among moms and women who are calling the omission a missed opportunity. Nor will the drastically shortened one- to two-week maternity leave Mayer plans to take or even her requesting input from the digital masses on what to name the new bundle.

Even as breakthrough as it was for Mayer to even be named to the post as an expectant mother, does the message now indicate that it was really such a milestone after all? Could she be feeling the pressure to minimize her motherhood to fit in or succeed in the corporate world? Which brings up the fundamental question posed in The Atlantic article—can women be successful in their careers and be involved mothers too?

In a similar vein—though a more vain one—Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is catching flak for a makeover that left her nearly unrecognizable in the latest issue of Vogue magazine. Heralded as a sort of every woman, Wasserman Schultz shed the D.C. power suit and T-shirt-and-jeans soccer mom attire for form-fitting designer duds and sported a completely different ‘do.

Critics are leveling their displeasure at both the fashion magazine and at Wasserman Schultz for the drastic departure from reality. Then again, what woman among us would turn down the opportunity to get all glammed up were we to be featured in a magazine spread?

It’s true that many women define themselves as a mother—and more. And it’s also true that most women would want to look their best in a Vogue magazine spread, for goodness sake.

But even for all the progress that’s been made, the shattering of the glass ceiling, the equality and so on, it seems women still can’t quite shake being judged in stereotypical ways.

ESPN Magazine Age Issue_featured

ESPN the Magazine’s Age Issue and the Changing Attitudes Towards Sports and Aging

ESPN the Magazine Oct. 1, 2012 issueIn sports, adoration is largely reserved for the seemingly unlimited potential of youth, but some magazines are changing their approach to athletes and aging.

The relationship between sports and aging is tenuous at best. The youthful phenoms are adored, the legends are revered—despite the constant need to discover and herald their replacements—and the over-the-hill are often not so quietly urged to make a graceful exit.

But aging within the sport has largely gone unexamined, its effects unknown until it is too late—such as the case with NFL stars now battling the effects of repeated head injuries before the preventive measures and precautions of today’s game were put in place.

ESPN the Magazine broached the subject in a different way in its first-ever Age Issue, which hit newsstands on Friday. In the Oct. 1 issue, the magazine follows four Major Leaguers at different stages of their careers, starting with the phenom at 21 and the aging veteran at 33.

Of course, in a sports culture that celebrates youth, the phenom—Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout—was featured on the cover.

Beyond merely baseball, the issue touts general age analytics, including career expectancy projections and the peak age at every position in every sport.

Back to baseball, another article examines the “real age” of 38-year-old New York Mets pitcher Robert Allen Dickey’s pitching arm. The magazine surmises that his preferred knuckle ball reduces the wear and tear—and thus age—of his pitching arm, which it rates as that of a 32-year-old.

In recent weeks, some magazine covers have taken the more usual approach to sports aging. Relative league newcomers and hyped QBs Cam Newton and Tim Tebow were celebrated on GQ’s NFL Kick-Off issue.

Tebow’s appeaSports Illustrated Sept. 10, 2012 issuerance was the source of controversy since the New York Jets QB received “starter” attention, though he’s Mark Sanchez’s backup on the squad, and the photos used were recycled from his superstardom as the University of Florida’s all-everything quarterback.

His latest feature in Vogue’s October issue is sure to draw more criticism, as he poses shirtless (again) and deflects any want for attention, despite what some would say is the obvious appearance to the contrary.

Meanwhile, another’s approach may signal why a greater examination is needed between the two subjects. Sports Illustrated featured former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, but from his girlfriend’s perspective as she’s become the caregiver for a heralded athlete affected by the violence of the sport in which he excelled.

Such suffering by McMahon and others of his era have helped bring awareness to the severity of head injuries in the NFL—and other sports—and have led to measures to minimize injury in the game.

Lucky Featured

Lucky and Vogue Magazines Send Mixed Messages with Photoshopped Covers

Vogue magazine September 2012 issueA little retouching never hurt anyone, but when magazines go so far as to blatantly send mixed messages with over-the-top Photoshopping, it should be cause for concern.

With its array of curve-removing brushes and erasers, Photoshop is often the secret behind images of models and celebrities that approach that elusive “perfect body” line. Vogue’s September cover featuring Lady Gaga flaunting a dramatic hourglass shape and a slimmed-down Christina Aguilera on Lucky’s October issue are some of these latest controversial images.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Magazines like Lucky and Vogue routinely come under fire for featuring impossibly thin models that the average size 8 woman can’t relate to, all the while preaching confidence and fashion “for any shape.”

But these mixed messages are blatant. Presumably retouched images inconsistent with cover teasers printed right by or on top of them that proclaim fearless confidence or getting to really know someone.

Pop sensation and self-proclaimed “fashion monster” Gaga has never been known for subtlety, and the September Vogue cover plays that up. In a purple Marc Jacobs gown, the singer’s body is transformed into a near-perfect hourglass shape that looks nothing like what appears in the behind-the-scenes video from the photo shoot.

It’s obvious that some retouching has been done. But to make things even more duplicitous, one of the cover teasers asks, “Think You Know Lady Gaga? Think Again.” Of course, that could be taken in one of two ways: Do we get to know “the real” woman inside? Or is it a retouched version masquerading as her?

The presentation even runs counter to some of Gaga’s “Hair” lyrics—“I just wanna be myself and I want you to love me for who I am”—which ironically accompany the behind-the-scenes video. Apparently, that sentiment was lost on Vogue—or the photographer’s team who was said to have made the image edits.

Lucky magazine's October 2012 issueA happy-to-not-be-so-thin Christina Aguilera covers Lucky’s October issue, but Huffington Post is questioning whether the magazine is as happy with the singer’s weight as she is.

Despite her telling the magazine how she’s confidently embraced her curves, the cover teasers almost make a mockery of it—that is if she has been Photoshopped.

The “Body Special” issue promises “Clothes that flatter your body no matter the size” and “The instantly slimming dress.” Perhaps that’s what Aguilera is wearing?

Readers likely have no problem with Photoshop used within reason—whatever that is—maybe to remove a wrinkle, even skin tone or smooth a stray hair. But using it to present a false reality—or, worse, inconsistent messages—doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in ourselves or their product.

Vogue magazine April 2012

Jennifer Lopez’s Manager Openly Discusses the Star’s Romances in April Vogue

Vogue magazine April 2012Jennifer Lopez is channeling all things hot in Vogue’s April shape issue. But it’s her manager’s words that are getting all the attention.

If this is what 42 looks like, then there’s a lot to look forward to with growing older. Jennifer Lopez looks stunning on the cover of Vogue magazine’s April shape issue. Could it be new love Casper Smart, who’s 18 years her junior, giving the “American Idol” judge her youthful glow?

Nah. Lopez comes by that naturally.

Lopez says of her new beau, “He’s adorable. But you already see that. He’s a good egg. I don’t want to talk about it too much, it’s my private thing.” She’s got plenty of reasons to want some privacy, given her recent divorce from Marc Anthony, fellow singer and the father of her twins, Max and Emme, 3. But some do question her attraction to Smart, a 24-year-old choreographer and dancer.

Among the skeptics is Lopez’s longtime manager Benny Medina, who tells Elle that the attraction to dancers is nothing new for his client (she married and quickly divorced Cris Judd, also a choreographer).

“It’s the dance choreographer’s magic hands that make her melt,” Medina says. But then he tempers his comment with, “She’s not oblivious to her own reality right now, as in, ‘Damn, I’m 42 with a 24-year-old. Why?’”

And that’s not all Medina has to say on the matter. He adds, “The thing that I always sort of wished is that she would give herself time to just naturally meet someone, instead of having obsessive guys pursue her.”

Seems he’s had a hard time navigating Lopez’s career around her careening romances that have included husbands Ojani Noa, Judd and now Anthony, as well as high profile romances with rapper Diddy and actor Ben Affleck.

Still, don’t count Smart out just yet. Says Medina of Lopez, “She never half does anything. When she commits to anything in her work, her life, or her relationships, she is in it.”

Do you think Lopez’s most recent romance will last? More importantly, should her manager be discussing her love life with the press?

Vogue magazine March 2012

Adele’s Controversial Vogue Cover

Vogue magazine March 2012

Controversial March 2012 Vogue cover

Adele’s voice has held the world’s attention for an entire year, but now her curvaceous figure is becoming the focus of some unexpected media scrutiny.

Even my two-year-old daughters are die-hard fans of Adele. It seems she can do no wrong these days, having cleaned up at the Grammys with a whopping six awards and performed to a standing ovation during the broadcast. She’s weathered vocal cord surgery and recovery in the past year, found love with new beau Simon Konecki, and now she’s covering the March issue of Vogue. Vogue magazine, people. Not too shabby.

But some are crying foul at what I honestly thought was a beautiful cover of the Brit songstress.The problem? Critics think the image has been airbrushed or Photoshopped, and some fans have been sounding off on the magazine’s website. One reader claimed that while she loved the accompanying interview, the cover was “the worst picture of Adele I’ve seen,” adding, “Frankly, I can’t seem [to] relate to it and I just hope that it hasn’t been much Photoshopped. Adele is a larger than life personality and this just doesn’t do her justice.”

This comes on the heels of Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld’s incredibly insensitive comments regarding Adele’s curvy figure, one that some believe she’s trimmed down since having surgery. According to Entertainment Weekly, in an interview with Metro US, the designer said, “The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but has a beautiful face and a divine voice.”

Oh, no he didn’t.

Lagerfeld was forced to eat crow along with that inserted foot in his mouth but chalked his unfortunate comments up to being taken “out of context.” Not that Adele’s letting the designer get the last word on that matter. In a February interview with People magazine, the singer says, “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.”

Which makes me all the more proud to be her fan.

What do you think of Adele’s Vogue cover? Does it look retouched to you? More so than other covers?