Why Kelly Clarkson should consider moving to the UK

While Kelly Clarkson’s body has apparently been airbrushed away in SELF magazine’s September cover, members of the UK Parliament are calling for disclaimers on advertisements that have been airbrushed. Love it.
Airbrushing is sadly no new trend in women’s magazines and ads, but the thing about Clarkson’s “slimmed down” cover that’s particularly disturbing is that September is SELF’s “Total Body Confidence Issue,” not to mention Clarkson talks about her (non)issues with weight fluctuation in the piece and the media’s hissies that she just doesn’t get:

“My happy weight changes. Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more. I’ll be different sizes all the time. When people talk about my weight, I’m like, ‘You seem to have a problem with it; I don’t. I’m fine!'”

In the meantime, UK Democrats from the House of Parliament just released 42 recommendations to “help improve the lives of women in the UK,” with one of the most controversial being the suggestion that airbrushed ads have a disclaimer saying so.
What really pisses me off is the contention by fashion folks supportive of airbrushing that it somehow benefits the subject being airbrushed. Photographer Nigel Baker said in response to the proposal:

“The idea is that you want to produce the most flattering image possible . . . The reason why talent in the modeling industry is so young is because of this desire to have flawless-looking women. But with good retouching, you can have older-looking women working longer. You can show her maturity, but perhaps you don’t show every wrinkle and line. What you are seeing are older models having longer careers that they never would have had because of retouching.”

See, airbrushing is good for women! We’re allowing older, “flawed” women to continue to work even though they shouldn’t be! In response to Clarkson’s airbrushed cover, SELF editor Lucy Danziger says the “retouching” was “only to make her look her personal best.” But how could that be her personal best when it’s technically not even all of her there?
h/t to Ethan for the link.

Join the Conversation

  • BackOfBusEleven

    It doesn’t look to me that Kelly Clarkson’s body shape was changed. I thought they got around that by cutting off her elbow, posing her slightly to the side, putting that flow-y top on her, and putting that yellow circle on her butt. Very clever, SELF! *sarcastic thumbs up* I thought they just airbrushed her to make her look tan. But Danzinger didn’t say whether or not they airbrushed Kelly’s shape. If they definitely didn’t, they would have said so. So I’m pretty pissed that they did that. They shouldn’t do that to anyone.

  • Becca

    And let’s not forget, it hurts men too! I can’t find a picture online, but the current cover of People magazine that I keep seeing in stores features Jon Gosselin, but his face is soooo airbrushed that it seriously looks like CG. It freaks me out.

  • llevinso

    If you’ve seen pictures of Kelly in the past year you can tell she has put on a good bit of weight. It’s pretty noticable in the face as well as the rest of her body. On this cover she looks COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than any recent pic I’ve seen of her.
    It’s just so disappointing, especially in an issue about body confidence. What was Self thinking?
    One of the reasons I love Kelly Clarkson (aside from her amazing voice) is she’s always seemed confident with who she is. She’s always told her weight critiques basically to fuck off and I love that.

  • preppy

    her pic is definitely airbrushed. they even greatly diminished the size of her arm noticeably. just google some recent concert pics of her and you can tell the difference.

  • marnanel.org

    UK Democrats from the House of Parliament
    FWIW, the party’s name is the Liberal Democrats, not the Democrats.

  • alixana

    I’ve seen more defensive comments from Lucy Danziger and other people in the women’s magazine business that keep saying, “But everyone gets airbrushed, it’s just normal.”
    Um, it might just be me, but maybe that is a problem, not an excuse that lets you off the hook.
    I’m sure that half the attacks on people like Jennifer Love Hewitt and other celebs who have candid photos taken of them in bikinis wouldn’t happen if more people realized that most women, no matter what size, are not smooth and shiny and plastic looking. I’m a pretty small girl, but I’ve got dimples on my butt and creases where my legs meet my butt, and it can be such a self-esteem mindfuck until I come across a picture like Hewitt’s bikini one that makes me breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Okay, I’m not the only woman in the world who looks like that.”
    I understand the desire to Photoshop – sometimes you have to increase the contrast and edit out stray hairs that migrated in front of the person’s face during the photoshoot, but changing the person’s appearance to fit your vision of perfection is just stupid.
    I’m not sure what it’ll take to get them to stop, or if it’s even possible. I remember in the middle of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s run, one of the teen mags (Seventeen, maybe?) edited Sarah Michelle Gellar’s arms so much that she looked like an alien (and keep in mind SMG was already accused by a lot of people of being too skinny). She complained, and they sent her a leather item (I can’t remember if it was a bag or a coat) to apologize. She was also a vegetarian who didn’t use leather products. It was like a big pile of fail fail fail.

  • Lily A

    Yeah, I know it’s a Dove commercial, but if anyone still hasn’t seen this magnificent time-lapse video showing the process used to create nearly artificial women, check out Evolution.

  • cattrack2

    This is interesting because while you’re certainly right of course–that this disclaimer might weaken societal obsession with looking ‘perfect’–the photographer/apologist you cite, Nigel Baker, is also right. Forcing a disclaimer will only incentivize the industry to use young, skinny women exclusively. Then, of course, there won’t be a disclaimer of any kind. Just young, skinny models everyplace.
    Unless and until you outlaw the use of young, skinny models this will only exacerbate the problem.

  • MzBitca

    I love how they act like they had no hand in the fetishizing of “perfect” bodies.
    They’re acting like their hands our tied when in reality the more they STOP this insane airbrushing the more people will get used to not seeing impossible beauty (tm: shakesville) and the cycle can be broken. They are the main contributers to the problem and are now acting like they are the innocent victims and are in fact helping “older” women

  • BackOfBusEleven

    I’ve seen a couple of recent pics of her, and it’s hard to tell. One’s clothing and body position can make a person’s body look different. Even make-up can make a person’s face look thinner. In the recent pictures I’ve seen of her, she’s wearing tight tops that cling to her tummy and baggy pants that make her look short and squat.

  • turninnburnin3

    Agree…she was actually at the Billings (MT) fair this week here is a link to some of the pictures they took of her and you can tell she she looks very different than her cover picture. http://www.billingsgazette.com/news/local/article_7a186f40-86ac-11de-986a-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=image

  • Newbomb Turk

    For the life of me I don’t understand why they do this. They claim it’s to make the model or singer more “attractive”, but most straight men prefer a woman with a “big” ass (such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce Knowles). The two ideas seem mutually exclusive. If anything, wouldn’t they alter the photo to make her butt look bigger?

  • theology_nerd

    Great post…I actually just did a google search for “airbrushed celebrities”, and it’s just shocking. Although it’s kind of comforting to see that those “perfect” celebrities actually look like normal people!

  • sammylif

    I love the idea of disclaimers. Everything today has one – “do not attempt,” “closed course, professional driver,” “reenactment,” etc etc. I heard about this UK proposal a few weeks ago and I think it’s genius (and i’m majoring in advertising and women’s studies…)

  • maco

    I do think there’s a difference between the following though:
    – A few inches of the waist and arms removed (reshaping)
    – Person had an unfortunately-timed breakout and really doesn’t want that monster zit in the middle of forehead.
    Especially when dealing with things like allergic reactions, modifying can be nice. If you’re like me and break out in hives or zits after eating certain foods (in my case: dairy), a photo taken the day after eating pasta from a place that doesn’t understand “no dairy!” would not represent your usual appearance.