Imagine you look at a photo of yourself. And you simply can’t recognize the person staring back at you (and no, we’re not talking about those 3am nightclub shots that should never have been uploaded to Facebook.) This is a nice photo, taken of you in the daytime, sober – but lovely as it is, it doesn’t look like you. It would be freaky, right? Unsettling?
This happened to Lena Dunham recently. And it triggered something in her, something that said “enough.” She saw herself on the cover of Spanish magazine, Tentaciones, and couldn’t figure out what was her… and what was a result of the skilled hands of a Photoshopper.
“I wanted to tell people, loudly: That’s not my body!” Lena said of seeing the cover, while scrolling through Instagram that day. So she did. She posted the picture on her own Instagram and explained that although she liked the shot and it was taken by a photographer she loved and trusted the pic was not what she looked like.
The mag then responded that they hadn’t Photoshopped the image – and Lena accepted their apology on Instagram but has since decided she won’t appear in a magazine unless they agree not to alter her image in any way.
Because, as the Girls star points out in her beautiful essay that she doesn’t recognize her own body anymore, and that’s a problem for her – and us also. Because if even Lena can’t recognize what’s real and what’s not real on her own body, then why are we comparing ourselves to an impossible perfection?
Photoshop is so common these days, and it is useful, as Lena says. For her, when she first began promoting her work she wanted to “appear important, desirable and worthy of praise” and when her skin seemed “almost painted on”, her nose “thin and pointed” she simply thought of all the future boyfriends that would google her and see the shots.
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But then the infamous Vogue cover happened. In case you don’t remember, Lena was chosen to be on the cover in 2014 and then the website Jezebel offered a $10,000 bounty for anyone who could get the unPhotoshopped pics.
“I was no less than heartbroken…” she writes. “I asked, “why me?” All these other actresses and models get to enjoy their perfected fashion spreads without comment… Would I ever get the chance to just be beautiful, no questions asked?”
Since then she says she’s done “countless” shots that have probably been Photoshopped, but now says she’s done – and is inspiring us to feel more body confident in our own bodies, imperfections that would be airbrushed out and all…
“This body is the only one I have,” she says. “I love it for what it’s given me. I hate it for what it’s denied. And now, without further ado, I want to be able to pick my own thigh out of a line up.”
Lena, can we marry you?
Earlier we wrote…
Lena Dunham was not impressed when she thought a Spanish magazine had Photoshopped a photo of her for their cover.
The latest issue of Tentaciones – a monthly supplement with Spain’s highest-circulation newspaper El País – features Lena looking sultry as she channels British model Twiggy.
She’s working a white shift dress, a tousled pixie crop and plenty of heavy eyeliner. It was taken by Colombian-born photographer Ruven Afanador and first appeared in Entertainment Weekly in 2013.
While it’s clear that Lena suits the 60s look, there was something about the image that she was keen to comment on.
The 29-year-old actress shared a snap of the publication on Instagram, captioning it: ‘Oh hello El Pais! I am genuinely honored to be on your cover and so happy you licensed a pic by @ruvenafanador, who always makes me feel gorgeous [sic].
‘BUT this is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like- the magazine has done more than the average photoshop.
‘So if you’re into what I do, why not be honest with your readers? Much love, Lena. Credit to @peguerillo_ for this [photo] of a [photo].’
We love the fact that Lena is all about promoting body positivity, as well as feeling comfortable in your own (natural) skin.
However, Tentaciones has since denied using Photoshop, penning an open letter to the Girls star on their website (if you can read Spanish, you can take a look here).
In the note, they write: ‘Those who know and follow our magazine know that we do not use Photoshop or other digital tools to change the physique of the people featured on our cover or inside stories.
‘This time we just cut the original image to fit the format of our cover.’
What do you think about Photoshopping? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter @lookmagazine.