The Girls actress says she is officially done with Photoshop, explaining, "I don't recognize my own f*cking body anymore. And that's a problem"
Whether Lena Dunham is speaking out about her battle with endometriosis or her mental health issues, including ODC and anxiety, the Girls actress is never one to keep quiet. And now she's speaking out against one other major issue she's faced recently: Photoshop.
Dunham ignited a firestorm last week when she called out Spanish mag Tentaciones on Instagram for retouching her photo on the cover of their mag. Dunham claimed, "...this is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like" and accused the magazine of doing "more than the average photoshop." (See more on that, and Dunham's other inspiring health, fitness, and body positive moments on Instagram.)
After clearing up some confusion with the magazine, Dunham followed up with another Instagram post explaining that Tentaciones had in fact, never retouched the image, but simply licensed it from the original photographer for their use. (The photo had been approved by Dunham's people and ran in Entertainment Weekly back in 2013.) Still, it struck a cord with Dunham, who claims in her post to have a "long and complicated history with retouching" and that it was time for her to "walk the talk."
So, in this week's Lenny Letter, that's exactly what Dunham did. Dunham has pledged that she will no longer allow her face and body to be retouched, and will opt out of any magazine shoot that doesn't show her real, un-Photoshoped body in all of its glory. "I want to be able to pick my own thigh out of a lineup," she declares.
Dunham claims to be inspired by other actresses who have made the stand before her, including Kate Winslet and Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as singer Zendaya, who recently took an awesome body-positive, anti-Photoshop stance. Ronda Rousey also got in on the debate recently, coming clean after unknowingly posting a Photoshopped image of herself on Instagram.
In the letter, Dunham explains that while, yes, she still believes the image in question was Photoshopped "somewhere between raw digital file and Spanish glory," it's hard to figure out "at what point in its journey this image had lost my dimpled thighs or bulge of bicep fat, or whether my chin had been recrafted." It was pointless to track down and point blame on anyone for releasing a photo of her that she herself had found "charming and appealing," she explains.
But, she writes, the photo got her thinking about the "real issue" at hand: "I don't recognize my own fucking body anymore. And that's a problem."
Dunham goes on to explain her long and complicated history with Photoshop—from when she first learned what it was in the third grade when a friend of her mom's brought her to work with her at Allure all the way through her own experiences being retouched in magazines since she first reached Girls fame. And she admits that despite her mission to showing her realistic body on her show, she "played the game" to get her work seen, going with the flow and not asking questions in part because well, who doesn't want to look gorgeous in a glossy magazine like Vogue?
Yet, she explains that the Spanish cover was the straw that broke the camel's back. "Maybe it was the feeling of barely recognizing myself and then being told it was 100 percent me but knowing it probably wasn't and studying the picture closely for clues. Maybe it was realizing that was an image I had at some point seen, approved, and most likely loved," Dunham writes. "Maybe it was the fact that I no longer understand what my own thighs look like. But I knew that I was done."
Sure, she'll continue to have her photo taken, but she won't "allow images that retouch and reconfigure my face and body to be released into the world," she says. "The gap between what I believe and what I allow to be done to my image has to close now." (Next up: 10 Refreshingly Honest Celebrity Body Confessions.)
Dunham knows this might mean no more fashion-magazine covers, "but I bid farewell to an era when my body was fair game," she declares. "If any magazines want to guarantee they'll let my stomach roll show and my reddened cheek make an appearance, I am your girl Friday. Anything that will let me be honest with you. But moreover, I want to be honest with me," she writes.
Kudos to Dunham for continuing to truly raise the honesty bar.