Little Love for J-Love's New Shape Cover
Blogs and other media outlets have been noting that Hewitt's newly svelte cover body doesn't quite match slightly curvier shots of the actress playing tennis in a black bikini last month. "Now, she is by no means an overweight woman, but even so, this health and fitness magazine airbrushed her size 2 ass," notes The Evil Beet.
Hewitt is hardly the first star to fall prey to an overzealous, Photoshop-wielding art director. In August, another health and fitness magazine, Self, weathered a firestorm of criticism for its blatantly altered cover shot of singer Kelly Clarkson, 27, that was ironically accompanied by the coverline, "Stay true to you and everyone else will love you too!"
Women's blog Jezebel.com probably summarized the outcry best, writing, "So even though Kelly Clarkson has said she's confident at any size and [editor Lucy] Danziger points out that Clarkson works out and is 'as fit as anyone else we have featured in Self,' the magazine's staffers decided having her instantly shed a few pounds would make her look even more confident and healthy. Oh-kay, then."
Self editor Lucy Danziger responded to the brouhaha on her blog, defending the magazine and the practice of manipulating cover shots. In a post titled, "Pictures That Please Us," Danziger writes, "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... We allow the postproduction process to happen, where we mark up the photograph to correct any awkward wrinkles in the blouse, flyaway hair and other things that might detract from the beauty of the shot."
She goes on to add, "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."
As savvy media consumers, we know that painful pimples and awkward cowlicks are almost always edited out of images, but is it naïve of us to expect that cover shots reasonably resemble the celebrity supposedly pictured? Hewitt's photo is not nearly as manipulated as Clarkson's but probably the most troubling aspect about both pictures is that they're on the front of health and fitness magazines. These aren't stylized fashion shots. These are magazines that tout ideals of health and wellness and self-acceptance. How can any publication in good faith encourage its readers to overlook their imperfections when every single imperfection has been removed from its models?
The bottom line is, it's probably not that big of a deal when a dimple of cellulite or an under eye shadow find their way to the digital graveyard, but in the case of Hewitt and Clarkson, we should care that cover models are an accurate representation of the ideals and headlines touted on magazine covers and in their pages. No matter what magazine editors tell us.
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