Magazine covers are rarely real

One of the striking conversations I had when doing the interviews for Hijas was with a young woman in her mid-20s who bought about $150 worth of fashion and fitness magazines each month and then went carefully through the pages, never reading an aarticle, and compared herself to every woman featured in article spreads and ads.  She was looking for her Holy Grail: what these pages could tell her about how she should look.  With each picture, she garnered a comparsion:  her vs. the image.  I don’t think she ever allowed herself to win.  There are many heartbreaking things about that story but, perhaps, the most unnerving is that she wasn’t losing to another person.  She was losing to technology –  to the way the page designer had airbrushed and manipulated.  I came across this article on on the prevalence of photoshopping and airbrushing in the magazine world and thought I would share it. 

Photoshopping Mag Covers: How Much is Too Much?
Thursday, October 04, 2007
By Dylan Stableford
Glamour: We Didn’t Slim America
For its October issue—the “First Annual Figure Flattery” issue—Glamour put America Ferrera, star of ABC’s Ugly Betty, on its cover. For Jezebel, Gawker Media’s “girlie blog,” it was bit too much “figure flattery.” The site ran a post under the headline “Photoshop of Horrors” juxtaposing Glamour’s cover with a photo of Ferrera at the Emmy Awards the same week the magazine hit newsstands. (The apparent slimming recalled a similar incident in which CBS’s in-house magazine trimmed Katie Couric by about three sizes.)A Glamour spokesperson denies any such trimming. “America was shot for the cover in June, and as she says in the article, she’s a size 6/8.  There was no slimming done to the cover.”Photoshop manipulation on magazine covers is nothing new. George Karabotsos, design director at Men’s Health, points to a 1952 National Geographic cover that moved the Pyramids closer together. But recently the practice has teetered into dangerous territory, with Glamour’s Ferrera and Men’s Fitness’ blatant enlargement of Andy Roddick’s biceps—which Roddick himself exposed as fake on his blog (“little did I know I have 22 inch guns and a disappearing birth mark on my right arm … whoever did this has mad skills”) and led to the resignation of the magazine’s designer—as the most egregious examples.Roddick isn’t the only victim to cry foul. Kate Winslet, after seeing herself on the cover of a British GQ: “I don’t look like that, nor do I desire to look like that.”    


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