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Jezebel Pays $10,000 for Unretouched Images from Lena Dunham Vogue Cover Shoot, Dunham Responds

by Ryan Lattanzio
January 17, 2014 10:56 PM
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Unretouched photo of Lena Dunham, acquired by Jezebel.
Unretouched photo of Lena Dunham, acquired by Jezebel.

UPDATED: Lena Dunham has responded to the controversy regarding her recent Vogue cover shoot, which Jezebel called out for being overtly Photoshopped. While in Paris on Friday, she told Slate France:

I know that I felt really like Vogue supported me and wanted to put a depiction of me on the cover. I never felt bullied into anything; I felt really happy because they dressed me and styled me in a way that really reflects who I am. And I felt that was very lucky and that all the editors understood my persona, my creativity and who I am. I haven’t been keeping track of all the reactions, but I know some people have been very angry about the cover and that confuses me a little. I don’t understand why, photoshop or no, having a woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing.

EARLIER: Yesterday afternoon, hell-raising feminist blog Jezebel offered $10,000 for un-Photoshopped pics from Annie Leibovitz's Vogue cover shoot of HBO "Girls" creator Lena Dunham. And within two hours, via an anonymous source, they got their way. Take a look.

This provocative move on the part of Jezebel illustrates that even a star as no-frills as Lena Dunham, who originally broke ground with her HBO series' unabashed depiction of everyday female nudity, gets the Photoshop treatment. Nudity on the series was recently targeted by a Wrap reporter at a TCA winter 2014 panel, to the distaste of many including Dunham and "Girls" exec producers Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner.

Jezebel goes on to list the eerie litany of alterations, from a lengthening of the neck, shaved-down shoulder and back, sharpened jawline to narrowed hips and zapped dimples. Editor-in-Chief Jessica Coen shrewdly traces Vogue's recent history of distorted female bodies, including slimmed down Adele and Lady Gaga, to a plasticine, expressionless Kate Winslet.

Dunham covers February's issue of Vogue, which arrives January 28. Check out the cover, shot by Annie Leibovitz, and Dunham and costar Adam Driver looking deviantly supine, below. More undoctored Dunham pics here.

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham on Vogue


  • Our culture is sick (burn the witch!) | January 28, 2014 6:05 PMReply

    I have a feeling a lot of Dunham's PR trolls are at work here: but the issue is, why on earth do we demand such unrealistic forms of perfection in pop culture? I personally find the unretouched photo the more interesting of the two.

  • Ugly Girls Need Love Too | January 28, 2014 6:01 PMReply

    Oh, it's hideous. I'm sorry, but Lena Dunham markets herself as someone who is beyond something like this. Busted!

  • Smith | January 24, 2014 7:47 AMReply

    This is interesting but I'd really love to see some un-retouched photos of Orpah from those magazine covers. That's one crack photoshop team, I can promise you.

  • Tom Upton | January 20, 2014 2:33 PMReply

    Tempest in a teapot. Vogue sells magazines. To Women. Everyone who appears in a magazine feature is cleaned up in post. Lots of women wear makeup when they go out. Beauty is skin deep. what is your point? Life is a series of cycles. This is about as newsworthy as the last thing Sarah Palin said to the media, and serves the very same function, you are addicted to attention no matter what the cost. Instead of feeding using the internet as a black market for the theft of intellectual property as a gotcha scheme. Why don't you offer us your view of just how Lena should look on Vogue?

  • Bill | January 20, 2014 1:12 PMReply

    From a legal/rights point of view, if the anonymous source did not have a license to sell or distribute the photographs wouldn't that be theft? Also, wouldn't the receipt of stolen ip/images by the magazine in itself be a crime? As well as unauthorized publication. Just curious.... Misappropriating Vogue /Leibovitz images is no small matter. On the other hand, if by design, what a brilliant publicity stunt!

  • Bo | January 18, 2014 3:05 PMReply

    The truth is tough to handle. Dunham will never in a 1000 yrs. look anywhere near like she does on this cover; and she don't seem to mind. Who cares? They photo shop everybody all the time. Even the classic beautiful ones. It's part of the pretense of our popular culture. We live in a false world and most seem to like it that way. See how they scream and defend. She's not a very good looking woman and they made her look a bit what? Like I said, with the good looking ones they make them look even better. Human beings are terrified of themselves and how they look. Especially in the Western hollow popular culture. It ain't pretty.

  • Anonymous | January 17, 2014 7:52 PMReply

    White feminism strikes again. If these idiots actually cared about women, they could have donated to a women's shelter or any of the millions of other causes that help women in need. But no, they throw away 10,000 dollars to make some kind of half assed point.

  • bringing it all back home | January 28, 2014 6:02 PM

    The hypocrisy is on Dunhams' side. Do you work for HBO or something?

  • Remy | January 17, 2014 6:05 PMReply

    Wait, what? Fashion magazines enhance pictures of actresses via Photoshop? Shocker!

    It seems incredibly petty and spineless to me that they would scapegoat one actress to prove a point. Dunham has no qualms about letting countless viewers know what she actually looks like au naturel, so I'm sure we can all permit her a moment of glamour when she appears in Vogue, yes?

  • Nathaniel Poe | January 17, 2014 4:19 PMReply

    Is Lena Dunham irrelevant, yet? Yes? Then why, for the love God, why won't she go away?! "Girls" is the most over-hyped, over-praised, least deserving show on television. The sole reason it even has any notoriety is because Tumblr bloggers -- who are barely able to keep their hearts from bleeding out -- leaped at the chance to champion ugly girl nudity. Lena, that sound you hear is a stopwatch ticking off the last few seconds of your fifteen minutes.

  • Jim | February 19, 2014 10:37 AM

    "Yikes! Someone sounds awfully bitter. If you don't like the show, then don't watch it. Perhaps this really boils down to envy, and a feeling that your "talents" aren't being appreciated in the way that hers are. Either way when you objectively look at the comment you made, you come across as a really sad person..."

    Isn't talent a funny thing, the way it only seems to find success in those of us born to the status and nepotism of inner-city affluence.

  • Hmm | January 24, 2014 7:56 AM

    I, too, find this woman irritating, and to say I'm envious is quite laughable, if you knew me. How come we can't just think someone sucks without being "haters"? Take a look at the legacy of HBO's "Dream On" and there you'll have "Girls" two years after it leaves the airwaves for good, where it will sit comfortably in the Halls of Affluent Mediocrity.

  • tdoa | January 18, 2014 1:18 PM

    Hi Mr. Strandfjord: I also find the show pointless and boring and Ms. Dunham irritating. I decided after watching 2 episodes to cut my losses and move on to shows that hold more appeal for me. Does that make me envious and sad also? I guess that anyone who does not agree with your opinion is not worthy of having their life considered to be a happy one.

  • Ryan Strandjord | January 18, 2014 1:17 AM

    Yikes! Someone sounds awfully bitter. If you don't like the show, then don't watch it. Perhaps this really boils down to envy, and a feeling that your "talents" aren't being appreciated in the way that hers are. Either way when you objectively look at the comment you made, you come across as a really sad person...

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