Yesterday, I published a post about the storm around some unretouched photos of Jennifer Aniston from a Harpers Bazaar cover shoot. The quick version is that US website Jezebel published a shot they’d received from someone claiming it was an original out-take from the shoot, before the massive digital alteration took place. Soon after posting the shot and writing about it, in a post entertainingly called “How Your Jennifer Aniston Sausage Gets Made”, they received legal letters threatening them with action if they didn’t take it down.
The letter came from the photographer’s agent and sited ‘copyright infringement’. Jezebel objected and another letter came, claiming the shot had also been “doctored from the quality of files from our server from the shoot.”
Jezebel are calling bullshit on this claim, insisting that the agents (who need to carry favour with Jennifer) are freaking out because the photo is genuine.
When I first published the post (guested by Vanessa Raphaelly), it was based on my understanding the ‘before’ shot was real. I prepared the post late at night and I’m not entirely on my game this week because when I took another look at it after pressing ‘publish’ yesterday, I realised the shot was a fake (to her credit, so did Vanessa, I just hadn’t read that bit closely enough). So I took down the post since it was all a bit confusing and was making me uncomfortable.
The shot that appeared on the cover of Harpers Bazaar – just like EVERY photo you see of any female celebrity on a magazine cover or movie poster – was HEAVILY digitally altered. I know it was. I have an experienced eye.
I also know someone who has seen all the other shots from that shoot that weren’t re-touched, when they were in the process of deciding whether to buy one of them to use for something else. I asked her what they were like and she said: “She looked normal – gorgeous but she had lines and freckles and her skin tone wasn’t even. You know, normal.”
So. What are we to take away from this and why am I publishing this post at all? Well, there were lots of you who did notice that I took the post down yesterday and were confused and fair enough so I wanted to explain what happened. I also want to explain that while I do believe the shot Jezebel published WAS digitally altered to make it look bad, I don’t think it’s the original, un-touched before from that cover shoot.
Clearly though, the ‘after’ shot on the cover is DRAMATICALLY digitally altered. Just like every other bloody cover of every other celebrity.
Make no mistake, this is not about Jennifer or about any one magazine. It’s a story about how sick and twisted the system has become. And how it is doing untold, ongoing damage to women and girls.
In a follow up, defending its publication of the shots (and others) Jezebel had this to say, which I couldn’t have said better myself:
From Jessica Coen at Jezebel:
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here: We’re not picking a fight when we show images that have been crazily Photoshopped, or when we show you before-and-after shots of celebrities. We’re not pulling some tabloidian “see celebrities without makeup!” or “look who has cellulite!” shtick. This is about the fucked-up imagery that is consistently and persistently gracing newsstands as the beauty standard to which we should all aspire.
For those of you who have seen, time and time again, these manipulated images — be it a retouched wrinkle or a dramatically trimmed waistline — and are aware of the reality behind them, you’re maybe able to look at ads and mags and keep your head straight. Not necessarily, but that’s the hope.
And as long as we’re on the topic of bullshit: the degree to which the female-targeted media industrial complex wants to keep these images away from you is shameful.