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We're Offering $10,000 for Unretouched Images of Lena Dunham in Vogue

Illustration for article titled Were Offering $10,000 for Unretouched Images of Lena Dunham in emVogue/em

Vogue just released its February issue starring none other than Lena Dunham. The images are, all in all, quite nice. She's well-styled and looks fantastic. As if Vogue would have it any other way.

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Lena Dunham is a woman who trumpets body positivity, who's unabashedly feminist, who has said that her naked body is "a realistic expression of what it's like to be alive" and "if you are not into me, that's your problem." Her body is real. She is real. And for as lovely as the Vogue pictures are, they're probably not terribly real. So Jezebel is offering $10,000 for pre-Photoshop images from Lena's Vogue shoot.

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Annie Leibowitz, who shot Dunham for the mag, isn't one to shy away from digitally fucking with images, and Vogue has a rich and storied history of distorting women's bodies:

And this is just a sampling. This is what Vogue does — and yes, we already know in general what all of these magazines do — but now, on its cover, Vogue has a woman who rightfully declares that her appearance, with all of its perceived imperfections, shouldn't be hidden and doesn't need any fixing. Lena Dunham has spoken out, frequently, about society's insane and unattainable beauty standards. Dunham embraces her appearance as that of a real woman; she's as body positive as they come. But that's not really Vogue's thing, is it? Vogue is about perfection as defined by Vogue, and rest assured that they don't hesitate to alter images to meet those standards. It doesn't matter if any woman, including Lena, thinks she's fine the way she is. Vogue will find something to fix.

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To be very clear: Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself "really" looks like; we can see that every Sunday night or with a cursory Google search. She's everywhere. We already know what her body looks like. There's nothing to shame here. Nor is this rooted in criticism of Dunham for working with Vogue. Entertainment is a business, after all, and Vogue brings a level of exposure that exceeds that of HBO.

This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she's fine just the way she is, and the world needs to get on board with that. Just how resistant is Vogue to that idea? Unaltered images will tell.

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Until we see pre-production images from the shoot, we can't say for sure how much work Vogue put into the job. But we sure would like to know, and given the conspicuous absence of Lena's arm in one shot (above), we're going to venture that her images got more than the basic adjustments for lighting and shadows and errant flyaway hairs.

The final images are gorgeous; there's a 99% chance that the originals are, too. So let's see them. $10,000. Anonymity guaranteed. Email me.

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(Lena, we'll also extend this offer to you, if you want to submit them yourself.)

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DISCUSSION

blessusall
Bless Us All

And how does a person respond to something like this? How does a woman who started reading this website as a teenager, who used to seek refuge here when her ideas about gender and equality were shot down by her friends, peers, and sometimes even family, who for some reason imagined this place as being a center for social education and self-reflection, a SAFE place on an internet full of body-snarking, misogynistic trolls, respond?

I know that one reader doesn't matter to you. I know that however important Jezebel was to me over the years, my clicks and readership and comments are nothing to Gawker Media. And I know that threats like, "This site has changed and I am NEVER coming back," are often hollow and always irritating and never, ever taken seriously by the powers that be.

But I have learned a lot from the kinds of articles you publish on this website, and even more from your regular commenters. So I'd like to take this opportunity to speak up, if only on principle.

Ah-hem.

How about instead of using illegally obtained images of a woman's body, without her consent, in order to generate revenue for your website, you guys listen to your readership here and think about what a horrible, unfeminist, and downright insulting "feature" this is. I can scarcely believe this needs to be explained.

Lena Dunham is a woman who trumpets body positivity, who's unabashedly feminist, who has said that her naked body is "a realistic expression of what it's like to be alive" and "if you are not into me, that's your problem." Her body is real. She is real. And for as lovely as theVoguepictures are, they're probably not terribly real. So Jezebel is offering $10,000 for pre-Photoshop images from Lena's Vogue shoot.

Jezebel is a website that trumpets body positivity, that's unabashedly feminist, that has written about the horrifying extremes of using women's images without their consent, the danger of singling out a specific woman in order to make a case about all women or society in general, and the importance of women's rights to do to/with their bodies whatever they choose. So Jezebel is offering $10,000 for pre-Photoshop images of Lena's Vogue shoot.

Yeah. Are you kidding me, though?

And what about this:

To be very clear: Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself "really" looks like; we can see that every Sunday night or with a cursory Google search. She's everywhere. We already know what her body looks like. There's nothing to shame here. Nor is this rooted in criticism of Dunham for working with Vogue.

Look, this is the "I'm sorry if you were offended" of mission statements. The last time I heard "oh, we're just trying to start a dialogue! That's not what we intended! You're missing the point!" was when Ani DiFranco tried to rent out a former plantation so her fans could write songs about how hard it was to ignore the fact that slaves were raped and beaten, why, within these very halls, boys and girls! Sweet dreams! (Didn't you write a couple paragraphs on that story, like, on a weekend, three weeks later?) The point is, it doesn't matter what your intention was, if your actions are as problematic as, say, offering a bounty in exchange for, again, ILLEGALLY OBTAINED IMAGES OF A WOMAN'S BODY, WITHOUT HER CONSENT, IN ORDER TO GENERATE REVENUE FOR YOUR WEBSITE.

Equally as troubling is your constant refrain of "Dunham embraces her appearance as that of a real woman; she's as body positive as they come," and "Lena Dunham is a woman who trumpets body positivity," and "Her body is real. She is real," as if that serves as her consent for her body to be used in your, what, exposé? Your exposé that Vogue alters women's bodies in their magazine? You don't fucking say. And hey, Lena Dunham shows off her unaltered body all the time on her own show with her own script on her own terms, so CLEARLY she shouldn't have a problem with us taking a crack at her, right? Hey Sharon, Tommy told me you fuck everybody on the first date, so what's the hold up? Aw, c'mon where you goin', Sharon? What about my blow job? SHARON!!

And, "there's nothing to shame here"? Really? Look at your comments section. Peppered throughout the general shock and outrage of your readership, I've seen multiple insult threads with pictures of potatoes, sacks, etc. and cries of "lol do not want." But that's not your intention, here. No. You are "very clear" about that. You're just specifically inviting people to come in and do a compare and contrast over the image of a woman who committed the unforgivable crime of having a body that the media decided to alter, just like every other body on the cover of Vogue. What's especially ironic is that what Lena Dunham (however problematic) is doing by showing her naked, uncensored body "every Sunday night" on television is actually attempting to change the endless landscape of identically skinny, "perfect" naked bodies we see. What YOU are doing is singling out a controversial actress with a controversial body and offering tuh-tuh-tuh-TEN grand to the person who's willing to offer YOUR website exclusive scrutinizing rights.

The truth is, this site has made a lot of extremely problematic decisions lately, and for all your criticisms of "non-apologies" from others, I have yet to see a real apology from the Jezebel staff about ANYTHING. Hugo Schwyzer. #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. Endless ignoring of your readership's critiques about your handling of race.

As I said, I know that one reader doesn't matter to you, and from a business standpoint, maybe it shouldn't, because you stand to make a lot of money from the hits this and any further articles on this issue will get you. But I can't come here anymore. I'm sure the door'll hit my huge flabby ass on the way out but I'll be sure to get some photos for you guys to run, you know, for feminism.

Peace.