It probably comes as no surprise that the images used for most (if not all) magazine covers have been retouched in some way as well as many images within their pages. Many have complained about the extent in which it happens over the years including myself. Sadly, we've often been given the sore excuse of it being an "industry standard".
Thanks to Self Magazine's latest overhaul of America's cutie Kelly Clarkson for their September cover, retouched images have been brought to the forefront of news again; and women, fat activist/advocates, mothers concerned about the self esteem and body image of their children and many more are raving mad.
If you are unfamiliar with Kelly Clarkson she is the first singer to win top honors on the debut of televised talent show American Idol back in 2002. Every since then she has had a busy and rewarding career receiving dozens of awards for her music and song writing.
Unfortunately Self magazine appears to have taken the music darling and shaved off some of arms, her waist, her butt and almost completely altered her face. Kelly Clarkson has been attacked in the media over the last year for packing on the pounds but she's remained steadfast in her claims that she feel great, is active, and frankly doesn't care what anyone else has to say. She's been quoted as saying, "When people talk about [it], I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem' -- I don't, I'm fine!' I've never felt uncomfortable on a red carpet or anything."
The editor-in-chief of Self, Lucy Danziger, defended the retouching in their blog stating: "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. But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand. I love her spirit and her music and her personality that comes through in our interview in SELF. She is happy in her own skin, and she is confident in her music, her writing, her singing, her performing. That is what we all relate to. Whether she is up or down in pounds is irrelevant (and to set the record straight, she works out and does boot-camp-style training, so she is as fit as anyone else we have featured in SELF). Kelly says she doesn't care what people think of her weight. So we say: That is the role model for the rest of us."
What doesn't seem to be coming across in their bid to defend their actions is that she has contradicted what the cover supposedly represents. They've altered Kelly Clarkson's "personal best" and made it into their interpretation of what they think her personal best should look like. What makes it even more of an oxymoron is that this issue is about total body confidence which they obviously don't think is possible or likely given Kelly's real personal best.
It is one thing to retouch a zit, dark circles, clothing ripples or bra straps but to completely alter an image like this is not only sending the wrong image but it is also a misrepresentation of Clarkson's image and a slam against her quoted personal beliefs about body image.
This video is a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot in question. It obviously shows how naturally curvy Clarkson is (something she says the degree of which can change depending on what goes on in her life -- hmm, kind of sounds like the rest of us).
In a sense I'm kind of glad Self took it upon themselves to redesign Kelly Clarkson's personal best because it has opened up (again) an important dialogue that needs to occur between women, women and their children; and even men who are just as affected by the images they see on and in magazines. There's more to a cover than meets the eye and the effects continue long after the magazine has been recycled.