In appearances on the Today Show and Good Morning America, SELF editor Lucy Danziger revealed that she's totally unrepentant about Photoshopping her magazine's Kelly Clarkson cover, and about convincing readers that looking your "personal best" means looking like someone else.
On GMA this morning, Danziger unconvincingly said, "We didn't make [Clarkson] look thinner. I added a little height, because I wanted the impact of that cover." Then she changed the subject, saying "you want a colorful cover." But obviously the controversy isn't about the color of Clarkson's top (which is nice, for the record) — it's about the fact that SELF's version of her body bears no resemblance to the truth. In response to criticisms like this, Danziger says, "you can love a person, love her body, and retouch a picture." Is that like "love the sinner, hate the sin?"
In the Today Show interview seen above, Danziger spouted even more crap. After assuring viewers that "we love Kelly for the confidence that she exudes from within," she explained that on a cover, "you want to capture the essence of you at your best." Apparently this essence is just a little bit smaller than your actual physical body. She also says, "everyone can love who they are from the inside out, and want to achieve your goals." But Clarkson has achieved her goals — she's confident in herself and her work, and has repeatedly said that she's happy with her body. So how does artificially changing the way she looks help her achieve anything, or inspire anyone else to?
Danziger continues being offensive for the rest of the segment. She says, "no one can make you feel bad, only you can feel bad inside yourself," which is a pretty irresponsible statement coming from a magazine that publishes unrealistic (and unreal) images of women, and then advertises products to supposedly help actual people look more like these images. In fact, what the Clarkson cover reveals is that despite SELF's "health" focus, it's basically in the business of making women feel bad, just like the more fashion-oriented women's magazines.
Plus-size model and More To Love host Emme, who appeared alongside Danziger, touched on this fact as well. She called for "beautiful, aspirational images, but not all one way." But why do cover images need to be "aspirational" at all? There's no reason that looking at a picture of a celebrity has to make us want to be different, except in so far as this desire sells products. The idea that magazine readers want "aspirational" content is so accepted that Emme even parrots it when she's arguing for a greater diversity of body types, but what's wrong with images that are just beautiful, or just interesting, fun, or inspiring? It's time for more people question the notion that we read magazines because we like feeling unsatisfied with our bodies and our lives.