If she won’t get an eating disorder on her own, CBS will do it for her

Wow. Looks like teeny tiny Katie Couric just isn’t skinny enough for public viewing. CBS thinned her down (significantly) for its “Watch” Magazine in the grossest Photoshopped diet ever. TVNewser caught the altered image via a reader.

Via HuffPo.

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  • http://norbizness.com norbizness

    Now could they just alter the “I’m going to bite into your head like a ripe melon” smile?

  • http://abstractnonsense.wordpress.com/ Alon Levy

    If only they photoshopped my pictures to look more in line with mainstream esthetic standards…

  • http://www.veronicas.org/blog Roni

    With the amount of photoshopping that goes on, why do we still need models? Why not just go all digital? After photoshoppers get done with the photos, you can’t really tell if it is a photo or a digital creation anyway.

  • Seraph

    You’re right, norbizness. The grin is frightening.
    Now I have a question, one that I had some time ago when I saw a similarly cropped photo of Kate Winslet. One that will probably seem naive, but stick with me:
    Who makes this decision? Who decides that only a certain female body type is acceptable on TV, and that body type is rail-skinny? I know that it’s a symptom of Patriarchy, but at the same time, it’s one that doesn’t benefit men directly.
    What do I mean? Well, for something that’s supposedly catering to us, it’s treating us as if we all have the same tastes (I apologize for the language of commodification, but this is the media – *everything* is a commodity). Kate Winslet, Salma Hayek, Queen Latifah, and America Ferrera all prove that there’s an audience for something more than – that our tastes are broader than – underfed, barely-legal white girls. And yet, that’s what is force-fed to us as our ideal of femininity. It’s like eating nothing but pizza every night. Pizza is great, but before too long, you’d kill for some barbecued chicken.
    So, seeing as how this portrayal of women is actively harmful to women themselves, and it only partially caters to its supposed audience, just who is it that decides that it’s the only way to go? Some conservative (in the non-political sense) producer who’s just sure that he’ll lose his audience if he gives his audience anything but the tried-and-true ingenue? Somebody who, consciously or subconsciously, doesn’t want women to look too big or powerful onscreen? Some blatant misogynist who likes starving actresses (most of whom have less clout than Katie Couric) into submission? What’s going on here?

  • EG

    I don’t think it’s a conscious conspiracy–it’s not like a bunch of Hollywood moguls and fashion designers are sitting around a room cackling and rubbing their hands together while saying “Aha! I have it, Jasper! We shall starve those bitches into submission–and here’s the genius part: we’ll make them do it themselves.”
    I think it’s more about various cultural and social pressures combining to determine what looks “pretty.” In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf observes that ideologies of beauty privilege thinness when women are making gains in the public sphere, equality, rights: the 1920s, 1970s, etc. I think a reasonable case could be made that skinniness indicates powerlessness by suggesting prepubescence, lack of muscle power, and someone who’s easy to knock over or control, all things that are going to appeal to the subconscious of powerful men who are shocked and horrified that these girls are starting to rebel and to demand things. What if they start to take things (food?) from us powerful men? What if they start to take up too much (legal, political, sexual) space? Ah, here’s a girl who doesn’t take up too much space–look how pretty she is, she probably barely eats/takes anything…
    Like I said, I don’t think this kind of thing is going on at a conscious level, but I do think it’s going on.

  • wren

    I think my favorite thing about this nonsense is that the photoshop monkeys also appear to have changed the color of her jacket. Now, presumably this jacket was picked out by their very own wardrobe team – even their own choices aren’t good enough for them!

  • EG

    Right. Because you know they put her in pinstripes in the first place to make her look thinner–but even pinstripes combined with photoshopping isn’t enough! They have to make the fabric darker too.

  • Seraph

    >I think a reasonable case could be made that skinniness indicates powerlessness by suggesting prepubescence, lack of muscle power, and someone who’s easy to knock over or control, all things that are going to appeal to the subconscious of powerful men who are shocked and horrified that these girls are starting to rebel and to demand things. What if they start to take things (food?) from us powerful men? What if they start to take up too much (legal, political, sexual) space? Ah, here’s a girl who doesn’t take up too much space–look how pretty she is, she probably barely eats/takes anything…
    Hmmm. Interesting. I can buy that. If you’re right, it could also explain what’s going on with this picture. Katie Couric is established in her field – she has a certain degree of clout. So let’s diminish her in another way, make her a bit less threatening.

  • http://www.resonant.org/ Zed

    They didn’t change the color of the jacket. The original image had an incorrect color cast overall (it was too warm), and that was corrected for the entire image. You can verify by checking the difference in skin tone. Most women don’t have bright orange skin.
    The color of the jacket in the second image is probably significantly closer to how it appeared in real life than the color in the first image.
    This raises an interesting question about the change in width, however — which version of the image is closer to how it is in real life? It looks to me like the image had its aspect ratio altered, not that Ms. Couric’s image specifically was altered (the paper that she is holding is also thinner, for instance, and the image on the right appears to have significantly fewer horizontal pixels).
    Does anyone have a series of photos of her to compare against? I am strongly suspicious that this had nothing to do with “slimming her down” and is simply a matter of a tech performing a standard series of corrections on the image between the two printings.
    It may well be the first image that is erroneous in all respects.

  • magpie_malone

    Zed, I can see where that thought would come from, but notice that the space between her arms and her body is actually much bigger in the second photograph. This would not happen if a tech just narrowed an abnormally wide picture. That would come from using Photoshop to trim a bit off her sides and fill it in with the background.

  • bear

    Gil Schwartz, executive vice president of communications for CBS Corp., said Wednesday in a phone interview the photo alteration was done by someone in the CBS photo department who “got a little zealous.”

  • lilianna28

    “which version of the image is closer to how it is in real life” -Zed
    I think Zed has a point about the aspect ratio, which is probably what started this whole process in the first place- a little nip here, a little tuck there. The size of her mouth and the proportion of her eyes tell me that the aspect wasn’t the only thing futz with, though.
    I work/have worked for retail design companies and I can tell you how easy it is to get started and not stop on this. One particular company that didn’t even cater to the overly-fashion concerned (rhymes with “ears”- located at the dark end of the mall with polyester pants) used to Photoshop the HELL out of the models. The process is such: the printer brings in what is usually a huge print out of the picture (we’re talking signing, so it’s a 4 foot face) and suddenly, EVERYTHING is noticeable- and once you get going, you don’t stop. First you take out some of the strands of hair in her face, then there’s this 2 inch mole you never noticed before, and then are her eyes crooked? is that a little bubble of fat under the bra? It goes on and on. Problem is, you’re not even talking about a woman at this point- not a real one, anyway- you’re talking about this image and pixels and dark spots. Anywho, the process made a lot of the women look like androids, in my opinion. Overly waxy.
    I can honestly say that when I’ve seen the process, I do not believe the people doing the art direction are making any statements about society- they are trying to make their end product (the image in a layout) look “perfect”. In most design, “perfect” is symmetrical, even, smooth. It sounds a lot worse than I think it is. That said, we’ve never taken a plus model and made her a size 8, or a size 10 like Katie and slimmed her to a size 2. So… Take it for what it’s worth. I can see how it sounds cold and irrational, that “perfect” women are the result, but for some reason, I’ve never heard it discussed that way in the creative direction reviews I’ve attended.

  • EG

    That is exactly it–the issue is, what do we think of as “perfect”? No woman or model is somehow objectively perfect–that’s a value judgment we make.

  • syntyche

    I think Magpie’s right, its a not just a resizing, its a deliberate photoshop. Here is the overlay:
    Compare the head with the body – theres no excess around the head.

  • lilianna28

    Funny thing- I now work for a beauty company that is all about leaving the freckles, laugh lines and cellulite right where it is. Not to say that the models we choose are an appropriate reflection of the “average” woman proportionally, however, I thought it was funny that we retouch so much less than other companies I’ve worked for. So it’s a toss up. The versions of ‘beauty’ I’ve seen here are diverse ethnically and the models have a more varied look about them. It’s nice.

  • carlagirl

    What I have noticed recently, particularly in magazines geared toward black women (i.e., Essence) is that the models’ knees are so airbrushed that they have no detail whatsoever. When did knees suddenly become so un-aesthetic? Because they betray age? Race? Crustiness?

  • Esme

    I’ve seen the knees and elbows thing too, particularly with regards to the skinny. Anorexically thin women like Daryl Hannah and Paris Hilton regularly have their photoshopped to smooth roundness.

  • http://www.resonant.org/ Zed

    Magpie, syntyche:
    Yep, looks like you’re right. My bad. I didn’t spot the space difference between the arms and the body, which could not have happened with a straight resize.
    I have to say, though, social issues aside, it was pretty good work. Someone definitely spent some time on that to get that effect without leaving obvious telltales on the pinstripes. I find myself wondering if it was done at her request, or if not, even with her consent.
    I will get back to the social issues later.
    It’s not the model that they’re trying to make perfect, per se. It’s the image. And for that, you get a checklist — any badly placed shadows? Bulges? Skin blemishes? Discolorations? General color casts? Distracting elements?
    Lilianna is right. It is easy to get carried away without thinking of any particular social goal. In the summer of 2005 I did an outdoor photoshoot for a young woman and her boyfriend. She was unhappy with the proofs, because she’d put on an extra five or ten pounds that summer without noticing until she saw the pictures.
    So I cropped the shots so that bulges weren’t visible, or in some cases, outright slimmed her with a combination of liquefy, cloning, healing, blurring, and dodging. (If I am to fully disclose my warping of reality, I should probably also admit that in one scene, I also completely removed a water bottle that I really should have noticed when I was taking the shot, but didn’t.)
    She was very happy with the result when I was done. I was happy that she was happy. It was a big happy thing. Eating disorders never crossed my mind, and probably never crossed hers. She certainly still looked quite healthy in the shots afterwards.
    But then, to me, so does Ms. Couric. People who skipped down looking for where I got back to the social issues can start reading again.
    It’s sort of a funny thing, ethically. I know that in a general sense, generating artificial thinness can have the negative effect of encouraging eating disorders. On the other hand, it can have the positive effect of encouraging people to be more fit.
    There’s a balance in there somewhere. You can be skinnier than average without being unhealthy, and you can be a little heftier than average without being unhealthy. Certain athletic builds (particularly runners and certain categories of weight lifters) have shapes that look closer to fat than skinny, and they’re a damn sight more fit than most of those with ribs showing, and it’s probably something that should be better advertised.
    But I look at myself and realize that I bought pants this week that are six waist sizes larger than when I was training regularly in the martial arts.
    I’m not fit anymore. I noticed that two sizes ago, but passed it off as “still looking okay from some angles”. Some of it’s just that I’m getting older. If I dropped back four sizes, I probably wouldn’t sweat the last two. But I don’t want someone trying to tell me that I shouldn’t care, that it’s a perfectly valid body shape, that it’s okay to be seriously wheezing after the first few hours up in the mountains (okay, I was carrying way the hell too heavy a pack, but still), that it’s okay that I can’t casually scoop my girlfriend off her feet anymore and carry her around without even thinking of worrying about losing my balance or my breath or my arm strength.
    Getting obsessive over being skeletal is bad. But I don’t see that an insistence that being fit isn’t a good goal as any healthier.
    This stance probably makes my original observations look a little suspect, but I do swear that it did look like an aspect ratio shift at first glance, and I still believe that the color shift on the suit is just part of a legitimate scene-wide correction.
    And if I had the choice to make again about the edits I made on last summer’s shoot at the waterfalls, I’d make the same choice.
    Except when it reaches the unhealthy extremes, I still strongly believe that there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be thin.

  • EG

    There may be nothing wrong with wanting to be fit, but “fit” in our culture is too often a codeword for thin (not that you’re doing this, because you’re not), and I know this because I am naturally a thin person–it’s nothing I do or don’t do, except for having inherited half of my father’s genes. And nobody has ever talked to me about exercising or getting shape or anything like that (well, my mother, but that’s part of her general concern that I eat well, get enough exercise, take care of myself), while friends of mine who exercise routinely but have rounder body types than mine are very, very concerned about body shape, and regularly talk amongst themselves and get asked about it by family, friends, doctors, and the like.
    The problem is, thin does not equal fit, as you note. I’m thin. I don’t exercise and nothing on this earth has thus far gotten me to because I hate it with a passion. But I don’t get disapproving looks, or random insulting comments from strangers or so-called friends, and sales clerks in clothing stores are very nice to me, etc. Because it has nothing to do with being fit, which is something you often can’t tell by looking at a person, unless they’re very ill or something. It has to do with being thin.
    You seem remarkably level-headed about your own body-image, which is cool, but I would argue that there’s a serious gender difference in the consequences of even slightly negative body-image for men and for women. As a man, you’re not likely to get passed over for a job or to start questioning your worth as a person based on your weight, whereas for women often that is exactly what happens. The consequences are nowhere near as dire for men as they are for women.
    In my opinion, aspiring to be thin is as troubling as aspiring to have big breasts. Some people are thin, some people have big breasts, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But being distressed because you’re naturally small-breasted or you’re naturally curvier? There is something wrong with that, and with a society that promotes such distress. As far as I know, anxiety and self-loathing, which are in my experience quite common among women vis-a-vis body-image, are unhealthy, and falling prey to them do not make anyone more likely to get fit. Quite the opposite, actually.
    I personally like the picture on the left more, because I think Couric’s arms in the picture on the right look like easily snappable twigs, except I don’t like Katie Couric at all, so I’d prefer to look at someone else entirely.
    And, jeez, why wouldn’t you make the same edits on the pix you took? The woman was either a friend or a client who wanted them made, and everyone was happy! She also wasn’t a public figure continuing a culture that inspires 4th-grade girls to start dieting, so there’s really nothing else at stake.

  • Martyfiveten

    I used to weigh 40 lbs more than I do now and I always had people telling me how small I was. If I talked about working out or wanting to lose a little weight, I would get attacked and told NO! You’re perfect just the way you are. But I’m five-foot-one and I have asthma – that weight made a huge difference. I was not in good shape at all. So, eight years later, I can’t gain weight anymore, I can’t find clothes small enough to fit me, but it’s ’cause I’m healthy. I do an hour of yoga every day and I don’t need long-term meds to keep my asthma under control. Now I get the opposite – I get people assuming there’s something wrong with me. My grandmother always asks if I’m dying and at my last job I got two unsolicited lectures from a co-worker about how any day now I’d turn thirty and it’d catch up with me. I’d have to start watching my salt intake, because she gained three lbs one week when she ate too much salt. She always talked about “dieting” in fact, and she was thin but did not look to be in good shape at all. Once or twice I tried to gently make the point that it did all catch up to me when I was twelve and I did something about it and I felt better, but she just kept talking about salt.
    I’m sorry; I ramble when I try to type late at night. How far off topic have I gone? It’s just that sometimes I think no one in this country has a clue about healthy body image, or even health in general.

  • nonwhiteperson

    It’s similar to the heterosexist romantic industrial complex from the “Is Marriage Rational?” thread. There’s too much pressure on women world round to marry, have children and be thin at least in Western influenced nations. Women can take care of themselves and know it’s better to be healthy than not. They don’t need photoshopping to remind them of this. It’s dangerous when no one really looks like airbrushed or digitalized images in magazines or movies. It’s similar to the bill of goods sold to us about the American Dream. You can keep reaching for it but it’s unrealistic because one would need to own everything that magazines say we should own by age 30 or 40.

  • http://feministing.com Jami

    not to worry! dan rather actually looks like the elderly orson welles. the “before” pictures just haven’t shown up yet.