In response to recent protests over Seventeen magazine's photo retouching of teenage girls (and the publication's lukewarm capitulation), the Daily Beast ran an editorial by one Jim Warren, former Chicago Tribune managing editor, MSNBC political analyst, and inescapably middle-aged white dude. Warren's point? Well, apparently in 1860 somebody retouched a picture of Abe Lincoln's jowls or something, which means that all of us silly ladies should quit worrying about the massive international media juggernaut that trains little girls to hate themselves by linking our worth as human beings to impossible standards of perfection. After all, something about Abe Lincoln! And we don't want to get worry lines. Think of all the photoshopping!
Instead, Warren suggests, we just need to relax and let it go for once. Jeez. Oppression: it's a great learning experience!
So what to do about all these millions of girls staring at those perfect images in magazines? Well, maybe we can teach them to be justly distrustful of photography in general. In the same way, we can teach our children, "Hey, it's only a movie," when they're taking on-screen events too seriously, we can teach them, "Hey, it's only a photograph."
I'm willing to give Warren's intentions the benefit of the doubt (I guess), but there's something pretty fucking condescending about a person who has never experienced the pressures of female beauty ideals telling women that the symptoms of those pressures are no big deal. I'm not a historian, but I'm pretty sure that 150 years ago when some newspapers ran a photo of the president with his neck artificially lengthened, it didn't send presidents the world over running out to buy neck-lengthening machines. And if it had, then I would fully support Rutherford B. Hayes teaming up with Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter to call bullshit and seek restitution for their long, floppy necks.
"Seventeen's About Face on Altered Photos," The Daily Beast
Photo credit: Ariwasabi / Stockfresh.