Kelly Clarkson loses weight the Photoshop way


Retouched magazine cover photos are nothing new.

Redbook did it with Faith Hill.

Vanity Fair did it with Angelina Jolie.

Glamour did it with America Ferrara.

But the latest fauxtoshop furor has a new twist.

First, let me congratulate Kelly Clarkson on her September SELF spread. I love Clarkson and her continued success makes me very happy.

She seemed to be having a lot of fun in this behind-the-scenes video of the SELF photo-shoot.


But the Kelly we see in the video is not the Kelly we get on the cover.

The first irony, of course, is the fact that the theme of the issue is “Total Body Confidence,” but the editors don’t have the confidence to show Clarkson’s total body on the cover.

In fact, the article itself focuses on Kelly’s acceptance of the fluctuations in her appearance.

“My happy weight changes,” she told SELF. “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!’”

The artificial weight loss on the issue’s cover completely contradicts her point.

Interestingly, SELF decided to address the hubbub head-on. Editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger didn’t hesitate to answer ET’s question about whether Clarkson’s photo was retouched, saying, “Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images.”

On her blog, Danziger expands on her answer. “We correct color and other aspects of the digital pictures we take and then publish the best version we can … Portraits like the one we take each month for the cover of SELF are not supposed to be unedited or a true-to-life snapshot.”

After the photo-shoot, the editors select the best pictures and make them better: “… we mark up the photograph to correct any awkward wrinkles in the blouse, flyaway hair and other things that might detract from the beauty of the shot. This is art, creativity and collaboration. It’s not, as in a news photograph, journalism. It is, however, meant to inspire women to want to be their best. That is the point.”

Really? The point of airbrushing is to inspire women to be their best? I never realized. And that’s just one of Danziger’s insights; you can read the rest at the SELF website.

I have mixed feelings about retouching. As an advertising person, I have rarely seen a photo go to press that is not retouched, whether it’s a person or a hamburger. But I’ve never pretended that Photoshopped ads inspire people to do anything other than buy what we’re selling. Danziger herself admits, late in her blog, that “a cover’s job is to sell the magazine,” but the comment is buried beneath loftier claims.

Where does that leave us? Nowhere new. Perhaps, though, we can take heart in knowing that celebrities like Kelly Clarkson know better than to think that true beauty is about appearance. (Take a look at this Dorothy Surrenders post for more lovely examples.)

Does SELF’s admission of guilt affect your opinion of the cover? How do you feel about Kelly’s picture? Are you bored with the whole brouhaha over retouching? Or are you enraged enough to quit buying magazines that think our favorite women aren’t beautiful enough just as they are?

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