Lena Dunham is getting real and calling attention to photoshopping and unrealistic beauty standards.
On Monday, Dunham posted the latest cover of Tentaciones magazine, which features a photo of her, on her Instagram. The “Girls” star and creator graciously thanked the Spanish magazine for choosing her as their covergirl, but also tactfully questioned whether she’d been slimmed down considerably with photoshop.
“…This is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like- the magazine has done more than the average photoshop,” Dunham wrote in the photo’s caption. “So if you’re into what I do, why not be honest with your readers?”
Oh hello El Pais! I am genuinely honored to be on your cover and so happy you licensed a pic by @ruvenafanador, who always makes me feel gorgeous. BUT this is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like- the magazine has done more than the average photoshop. So if you're into what I do, why not be honest with your readers? Much love, Lena. credit to @peguerillo_ for this ? of a ?
On Tuesday, the newspaper El Pais (which publishes Tentaciones), responded to Dunham’s post, denying photoshopping the licensed photo. In a Spanish-language statement, the newspaper said that they used the original photo taken by Ruven Afanador, and only altered it by cropping the image to fit the cover. The paper also emphasized the fact that that the photograph, which they licensed from Corbis, was approved by her agency, photographer and publicist.
“Those who know us and follow our magazine know that we do not use Photoshop or other digital tools to change the appearance of people who are on our cover or inside the magazine,” the statement read.
Dunham later issued an apology to the magazine, thanking them for clarifying their use of the image while standing by her initial misgivings. “It’s a weird feeling to see a photo and not know if it’s your own body anymore (and I’m pretty sure that will never be my thigh width but I honestly can’t tell what’s been slimmed and what hasn’t),” Dunham wrote on Instagram.
“I’m not blaming anyone (y’know, except society at large).”
Hey Tentaciones- thank you for sending the uncropped image (note to the confused: not unretouched, uncropped!) and for being so good natured about my request for accuracy. I understand that a whole bunch of people approved this photo before it got to you- and why wouldn't they? I look great. But it's a weird feeling to see a photo and not know if it's your own body anymore (and I'm pretty sure that will never be my thigh width but I honestly can't tell what's been slimmed and what hasn't.) I'm not blaming anyone (y'know, except society at large.) I have a long and complicated history with retouching. I wanna live in this wild world and play the game and get my work seen, and I also want to be honest about who I am and what I stand for. Maybe it's turning 30. Maybe it's seeing my candidate of choice get bashed as much for having a normal woman's body as she is for her policies. Maybe it's getting sick and realizing ALL that matters is that this body work, not that it be milky white and slim. But I want something different now. Thanks for helping me figure that out and sorry to make you the problem, you cool Spanish magazine you. Time to get to the bottom of this in a bigger way. Time to walk the talk. With endless love, Lena PS I'd love the Tentaciones subscription I was offered!
Dunham has championed body positivity through her show “Girls” and by sharing photos of herself on social media that challenge perceptions about what is beautiful. And while it’s still unclear what alterations if any were made to the photo, kudos to Dunham for calling out an industry practice that really needs to stop.
NOTE – this article has been updated to include more recent information.