Two-year-old Photoshopped Jennifer Lawrence magazine cover draws criticism

December 16, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Flare in 2011. (Flare)

More than two years after the Canadian fashion magazine Flare put then rising-star Jennifer Lawrence on its June 2011 cover, the Internet Outrage Machine has worked itself into a furor over the use of Photoshop in the image … which, it bears repeating, was taken two years ago.

Jennifer-Lawrence-Photoshop

“I am livid that a magazine did this to Jennifer Lawrence, and my guess is she is, too,” screams the (less-than-supportable) headline on Upworthy.

Actually, there’s no evidence Lawrence is, or ever was, upset about the cover, considering the actress has said she “loves Photoshop more than anything” and the magazine met no controversy when it debuted in 2011. (Jezebel pronounced it “smoking hot” at the time.)

But it isn’t difficult to see why Lawrence, who has since become the poster child for healthy body image, elicits such strong reactions — particularly in GIF form, where differences between the original and Photoshopped images are clear. In fact, it seems this latest round of interest in the 2011 cover was sparked by the GIF-ing of Lawrence’s pre- and post-Photoshopped image, which made the rounds on Tumblr before seeping out to blogs like Crushable.

Based on the GIF, it looks like editors touched up Lawrence’s hair, deepened the contrast on her face, and smoothed the lines of her hips, waist, neck and arms, making them look thinner.

This is all very unfortunate, particularly since Lawrence is an icon for ladies with sane health and beauty standards. But the GIF is interesting as a unit of transmission, too. After all, none of this is news — pictures from Lawrence’s Flare shoot have been online since at least October 2012 and, to quote Lawrence herself, discussing another airbrushing controversy, “of course it’s Photoshop; people don’t look like that.” The story only took off, however, when someone had the brilliant idea, two years later, to edit the photos into a GIF and throw them up online — where they percolated for at least 10 months before spontaneously becoming the hot entertainment scandal of the week.

That particular media story may not be as sexy as the patriarchal fashion gods Photoshopping actresses into sharp-collarboned waifs, but it seems worth pondering. Ironically, Flare did ask Lawrence about her views on body image.

“I’d rather look a little chubby on camera and look like a person in real life, than to look great on-screen and look like a scarecrow in real life,” she said.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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