Lara Prendergast Lara Prendergast

Ugliness and cynicism – all in the name of feminism

Another day, another ‘victory’ in the name of feminism. Jezebel, the feminist blog aimed at women’s interests, last week offered $10,000 to anyone who could provide them with ‘unaltered’ images of Lena Dunham’s American Vogue cover story. Within two hours, they received six images from the Annie Leibovitz shoot, which they then published, complete with notations about what had been changed. Vogue, it would seem, had done the dirty: not only had they made Dunham’s chin a bit pointier, and her neck a bit thinner, they’d also removed the bags from under her eyes and nipped her waist a little.

Jezebel has never before offered $10,000 for ‘unaltered’ images of Vogue cover stars. But they have taken particular umbrage in this case, because Lena Dunham is one of their pinups – in a way that Kate Upton and Gwyneth Paltrow are not. For those not acquainted with Dunham, she’s the 27-year-old who wrote and stars in Girls – the wildly successful HBO series. It’s gritty, funny, and generally pretty great. Dunham has rightly been lauded for it, receiving a $3.5m book deal off the back of it. Part of her appeal is that she comes across as relatively normal. She doesn’t look like your regular Hollywood star. For a feminist site like Jezebel, she’s the messiah. ‘Her body is real. She is real,’ says Jessica Coen, Jezebel’s Editor-in-Chief.

Dunham chose to be in Vogue (and in all honesty, who – apart from Kate Middleton – would ever turn down the opportunity to be on the cover of American Vogue) and she, like every other Vogue cover star, was slightly retouched. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll notice that it’s hardly that dramatic – it’s not like they’ve sucked out all the fat, or stretched her body.

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