Yesterday, Jezebel offered $10,000 to anyone who would send them untouched photos of Lena Dunham from her Vogue photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz. Jessica Coen wrote for Jezebel, "Vogue has a woman who rightfully declares that her appearance, with all of its perceived imperfections, shouldn't be hidden and doesn't need any fixing." Two hours later, they got the originals.
And they look exactly as we would expect. Dunham is skinnier, taller, and has flawless skin. No surprise there. So why is everyone freaking out?
"This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she's fine just the way she is, and the world needs to get on board with that," Coen writes. "Just how resistant is Vogue to that idea? Unaltered images will tell."
While the images are definitely problematic, as is the magazine's industry's obsession with perfect bodies, is Jezebel's publishing of the original images (and this isn't the first time they've done this) really asserting that we need to see more real women in the media?
Yes, it would be better if magazines didn't retouch women to look like runway-ready aliens. But Jezebel's bounty for the untouched images and resulting GIFs seems only to sensationalize the story. The way people are discussing the images, meticulously analyzing Dunham's flaws and imperfections, is just plain gross. The repeated back and forth of the GIFs—skinny, less skinny, skinny, less skinny—feeds a public fetish with bodies, a kind of Photoshop porn. Maybe publishing only the originals, asserting, "this is how a real woman looks," would have been better.