Archive - Aug 2009


August 17th

Lucy: Dafter, And The Devil

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Memo to Lucy Danziger: YOU ARE DUMB.

Full disclosure: I have no fucking clue what Kelly Clarkson looks like, and I care so little about what Kelly Clarkson looks like that I'm not going to do a Google image search. I do, however, know bullshit when I hear it, and Lucy Danziger is shoveling it so fast she must have fucked up something awful.

Lucy Danziger edits Self magazine, which you have never read. In fact, I'd wager that if you've even seen the cover of Self Magazine in your checkout aisle, you didn't realize it wasn't Cosmo or any other women's magazine with giant san-serif fonts advertising quick weight loss tips and detailed instructions about how to fuck. And we all would have continued not giving half a crap about Self Magazine, except that they put a picture of Kelly Clarkson on the cover and, according to reports, Photoshopped about fifty pounds off of her in the process.

This caused a ruckus. You know, the kind of ruckus where a bunch of people suddenly take umbrage at an admittedly evil and depraved practice that we'd all previously agreed to pretend wasn't really happening. The kind of ruckus I'm still waiting for over American torture. The ruckus caused Danziger to defend the magazine's use of photo editing software. But did she defend it honestly? Did she admit that the continued existence and profitability of the entire women's magazine industry depends directly on the cognitive dissonance between the digitally-slimmed image of Clarkson and the accompanying caption, "Stay true to you, and everyone else will love you too"?

Of course she didn't. ACTUAL BULLSHIT QUOTE TIME!

"Pictures are meant to tell a story, express a feeling, convey an emotion or capture a moment. Portraits like the one we take each month for the cover of SELF are not supposed to be unedited or a true-to-life snapshot (more on that in a moment). When the cover girl arrives at the shoot, she is usually unmade up and casually dressed, and could be mistaken for a member of the crew or the editorial team in many cases. Once we do her makeup and hair, and dress her in beautifully styled outfits and then light her, we then set the best portrait photographer we can on a road to finding a pose and capturing a moment that shows her at her best."

Danziger has the bare beginnings of a sort of point here, in that women's magazine cover portraits are not realistic images to begin with. Where she goes completely off the rails, of course, is where she equates manipulation of the actual physical world that's being photographed - the lighting, the makeup, the posing, the clothing - with the digital manipulation required to achieve an image that would not be physically possible otherwise. You can argue, as Danziger does, that the difference is only a small one of degree, but it seems to me that "physical reality" is a hell of a line to cross.

Plus, her insanity doesn't stop there. In one of the most accidentally revealing paragraphs I've read in a long time, Danziger shows why her job is editing a women's magazine, and at the same time, why she is completely unqualified to actually achieve the stated, fake goals of a woman's magazine:

"When I ran the marathon five years ago, I was so proud of myself for completing it in under five hours and not walking a single step. But my hips looked big in some of the photos (I was heavier then), so when I wanted to put one of them on the editor's letter in SELF, I asked the art department to shave off a little. I am confident in my body, proud of what it can accomplish, but it just didn't look the way I wanted in every picture."

Is there a clearer personification of female cultural psychopathology than this? Or, to put it more simply, holy shit, this broad is FUCKED UP. I hope she's proud of herself for completing the rationalization marathon it must have taken to be able to type that paragraph with a straight face.

And speaking of straight faces, I can only assume Danziger has regular access to both Botox and Juviderm, because paralyzing half her face and injecting plastic under the other half is the only possible way she could have kept her face straight as she went on to say this. If you don't have a plastic surgeon on speed dial, prepare for your jaw to hit the floor:

"She is, like her music, giving and strong and confident and full of gusto. 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... 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."

Um, no. You don't say that. Or at least, when you say it, you don't mean it, because you think of her weight, you care what you think of her weight, and you care what other people think of her weight. You assume, probably correctly, that people will not buy your magazine with the physical world's Kelly Clarkson on the cover. And you deliberately feed into that communal mental illness, lining your own pockets and lying to yourself, and all of use, in the process. That's not following a role model. That's being an asshole.

Also being an asshole? Ending this complete bullshit editorial with the tritest piece of bullshit of all: that "the truest beauty is the kind that comes from within". Because I don't know how to tell you this, Lucy, but your photo editors don't actually think you can see the beauty within if you digitally remove chunks of women's torsos.