Elle magazine claimed to perform excessive retouching

photo courtesy of: elle.com, Carter Smith

Posted by Katherine Dewitt

Magazines are known to publish photos and advertisements that get retouched significantly. Elle’s October issue hit the newsstands with actress Gabby Sidibe on the front cover.

A striking, yet close up photo of the 27 year-old uproots controversy and debate in the print media world. Many people noticed the fact that a fashion/beauty magazine, such as Elle, ran their issue with a plus size woman. Later, bloggers started noticing something else: the cover girl’s excessive skin lightening.

Minonline.com published a story on Sept. 21 about the cover retouching. This magazine issue came out with four covers with different celebrities on each of them: Sidibe, Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, and Lauren Conrad.

Writer Steve Smith discusses how Sidibe’s cover photo was “framed much tighter” than the other three, slimmer celebrities. Instead of running a full body photo—as Elle did for the other three girls—the magazine focused in on her face, which ironically, was retouched to a negative and great extent. Smith also wrote about how her skin was much lighter than it is in any other photo of the star. And it’s true.

Although society is starting to slowly accept that magazines and advertisements retouch people, the fact that Elle failed at editing her cover photo successfully, saddens me. Sidibe is a striking individual, but society does not view her features as what is deemed to be beautiful. While Elle was most likely trying to make a point by featuring her, they somewhat insulted her and went in the wrong direction. It’s too bad Elle couldn’t stick with Sidibe’s true beauty.

Yahoo! Shine, a website for advice and information offered from experts for women, confronted Elle about this hot topic. Elle responded with this:

“Nothing out of the ordinary was done. We have four separate covers this month and Gabby’s cover was not retouched any more or less than the others. We had 25 cover-worthy subjects in our portfolio and we chose Gabby because of who she is. We shot this as a story of exuberant young women changing the world. If you take a look at the portfolio, each of the women were shot in different ways and for different reasons.”

My favorite magazine is W and they experienced a mishap with their December 2009 cover girl, Demi Moore. They digitally removed her left hip. Oops. Even though magazines airbrush celebrities more and more, there should be a line to not cross when editing photos. When should photo editors stop editing? If photo editing hurts society and self-portraits, why do editors and magazines continue to do this?


2 responses to “Elle magazine claimed to perform excessive retouching

  1. Whether it’s simply societal reasons to retouch photos, it’s ridiculous when it comes to this. Obviously the selection of Sidibe was a bit of an odd choice simply due to the typical “cover girl” look. But then it brings me to ask, if they’re trying to do something different, why retouch it to the point that it becomes a totally different photo? There’s no real point to that. At some point, we’re going to have to accept people for who they are and not modify their appearance just so we can get a cover shot of them.

    • I agree with what you are saying. I think Elle was trying to make a statement by running their issue with a cover girl who doesn’t have the “cover girl” look, but failed. The fact that they retouched her so much to look almost white ruins the spirit of the photo. Elle did a poor job of capturing who Sidibe truly is, which is kind of what a cover shoot is for. Society expects cover girls to be slim, white, and extremely famous, which is what most likely led Elle to retouch Sidibe’s photo so much. But, I agree. Photo retouching ruins the true person in the photo.

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