The face of young feminism, Lena Dunham, took a break from campaigning to #FreeKesha this week to focus on the issue of Photoshopping instead. On Instagram, the social media forum for all serious politic debate, Dunham posted a message to Spanish newspaper El Pais. In it she told her 2.4 million followers the paper had Photoshopped her image for the cover of its magazine Tentaciones.
Dunham did not approve of how she had been depicted. Not because the photograph showed Dunham wearing virginal white and thick eyeliner, staring into the camera like a vacuous anime doll - rather than the articulate media power player she is - but rather, Dunham complained, she looked too thin: 'This is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like – the magazine has done more than the average Photoshop,' she said.
Oh hello El Pais! I am genuinely honored to be on your cover and so happy you licensed a pic by @ruvenafanador, who always makes me feel gorgeous. BUT this is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like- the magazine has done more than the average photoshop. So if you're into what I do, why not be honest with your readers? Much love, Lena. credit to @peguerillo_ for this 📸 of a 📸
Feb 29, 2016 at 5:22pm PST
Hey Tentaciones- thank you for sending the uncropped image (note to the confused: not unretouched, uncropped!) and for being so good natured about my request for accuracy. I understand that a whole bunch of people approved this photo before it got to you- and why wouldn't they? I look great. But it's a weird feeling to see a photo and not know if it's your own body anymore (and I'm pretty sure that will never be my thigh width but I honestly can't tell what's been slimmed and what hasn't.) I'm not blaming anyone (y'know, except society at large.) I have a long and complicated history with retouching. I wanna live in this wild world and play the game and get my work seen, and I also want to be honest about who I am and what I stand for. Maybe it's turning 30. Maybe it's seeing my candidate of choice get bashed as much for having a normal woman's body as she is for her policies. Maybe it's getting sick and realizing ALL that matters is that this body work, not that it be milky white and slim. But I want something different now. Thanks for helping me figure that out and sorry to make you the problem, you cool Spanish magazine you. Time to get to the bottom of this in a bigger way. Time to walk the talk. With endless love, Lena PS I'd love the Tentaciones subscription I was offered! A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on
Mar 1, 2016 at 8:40am PST
There are echoes of Dunham’s response in other aspects of modern feminism: the belief that perceiving something to be the case means it is, even if the burden of proof has not been met.
Just last week Dunham wrote an impassioned essay in support of the singer Kesha. Kesha (the American pop star – keep up!) claims to have been sexually and emotionally abused by a Sony producer, Dr Luke. As a result Kesha took Sony to court to try and terminate her contract with them: Kesha lost. Many female figures, including Dunham, have come out in support of Kesha despite Dr Luke’s insistence the claims are false.
Dr Luke, real name Luke Gottwald, maintains not only did he not rape Kesha, but the two never had sex. Yet, in the trial of Dr Luke currently being conducted online the facts are irrelevant. Dunham wrote: 'While the allegations of sexual assault and emotional abuse cannot be proven definitively, I think Kesha's words speak for themselves.' It is worrying if she really believes this to be the case.
In this current Photoshop spat Dunham may feel she is a victim but she is not. In fact, she is so celebrated that El Pais have put her on their cover under a headline boasting: 'She is on fire: She changed the face of feminism with her series Girls. Now she wants to change her life.'
I just wish the face of young feminism didn’t automatically assume everyone was out to get them. I wish their take on reality was more objective.