Thursday, August 13, 2009

On contagious confidence and joie de vivre: still not enough to get you into magazines

Okay, so doesn't Kelly Clarkson look awesome? She's standing there, right over a headline about body confidence, and does she ever look confident. Of course, it's easy to be confident when you look a good as she does. And although she's been known for her curviness in the past, it looks like she's slimmed down a ton; maybe she used those tips for slimming down and losing eight pounds and being hot by Saturday. Whatever she did, she looks fantastic, and I'm sure her skinny-mininess has contributed to her looking so happy and--wait. Hold on.

Do what, now?

But I thought--

Who's that girl in the cover photo, then?

There's been a nasty rumor going around that Self magazine airbrushed the hell out of Clarkson to put her on the cover. Obviously, it's just that--a rumor--because what self-aware magazine would Photoshop off about 20 pounds before putting her next to a headline about "staying true to" herself? Thank goodness Self EIC Lucy Danzinger took to her blog to set things straight.
Last Friday, the Internet was abuzz with the fact that I answered the question, did you Photoshop the September issue cover photo of Kelly Clarkson? with the answer: Yes.

See? It was noth--wait a minute.
Kelly has this amazing spirit, the kind of joie de vivre that certain people possess that makes you want to stand closer to them, hoping that you can learn what they know. In this case, you get the feeling Kelly has not let fame spoil her, but also that she was just born confident, with a generosity of spirit that is all about others and rarely about herself. She is, like her music, giving and strong and confident and full of gusto. Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best.

Her personal best? But--but that's not even her. Kelly Clarkson's chin isn't that pointed. Her arms aren't that skinny. If you watch the behind-the-scenes video Danzinger includes in her post, you can see exactly how much Clarkson isn't that waifish figure on the magazine cover. Not that she's not pretty--I think she's pretty and cute and looks really energetic and happy, and while I wish her usual stylist would help her pick costumes for her performances that don't look unflattering and uncomfortable and pinchy, her body is good and she's got so much personality. So you'd think that her personal best would be the best shot of her person. Not... well, some other person.

Danzinger first dismisses the claims by bringing up her own proclivity for throwing out any candid photos that aren't completely flattering and having the art department slim her down a bit before her picture goes into the magazine at any point. Then she dilutes her argument by adding that, also, too, retouching is a common practice with magazines to remove "any awkward wrinkles in the blouse, flyaway hair and other things that might detract from the beauty of the shot." Like, apparently, that stray 20 pounds. It's not until the very end of her blog post that Danzinger finally lets slip, probably inadvertently, that unaltered fatty-fat-fatties like the real Kelly Clarkson just don't sell magazines.
A cover's job is to sell the magazine[...]

Which fat chicks apparently don't.

What gets me is that it's right there. It's right next to a quote about staying true to yourself and covering an article where Clarkson talks about accepting and loving herself exactly as she is. "When people talk about my weight, I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem with it; I don't. I'm fine!'," she says. Fine, and alone, probably, within the editorial staff of Self, because they definitely aren't fine with you.

"Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best." Apparently, we're missing the personal from personal best, because, per the article, Clarkson already thinks she's at her best. Making her look her personal best would mean publishing a cover photo that was actually her. Danzinger & Co. made the choice to show her at their idea of her best, carving off 20 pounds of flyaway hairs and awkward wrinkles and covering her ass with a big yellow dot offering prizes-prizes-prizes.

And no, Luce, it's not the same as 'shopping out your own saddlebags or throwing away unflattering vacation pictures (although that seems like a great way to lose a lot of good vacation memories to me; sometimes the best memories also involve crappy hair or a sunburn). Those are things that you did voluntarily to emphasize your personal best. What you did was decide for Kelly what her personal best should look like, whether she's happy with her body as it is or not.

Danzinger closes:

Your job: Think about your photographs and what you want them to convey. And go ahead and be confident in every shot, in every moment.

But don't stop there, because confidence doesn't cover up the fact that you're an big old lardass who couldn't possibly sell a magazine as you are.

Because the truest beauty is the kind that comes from within.

And by "within," of course she means "but still close enough to the surface that it shows on the outside, too, because inner beauty doesn't make cover photos."

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