TODAY   |  January 20, 2014

Lena Dunham responds to Vogue cover controversy

The star of HBO’s “Girls” has responded to comments about Photoshopped images of her used in the current issue of Vogue magazine.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> for vogue. she's known for "girls." but it's a series of photos that have her the center of controversy this morning. and katie, good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah. this was pretty minor, slimming here, smoothing here and cover-up along the chest. but when it's the body positive lena dunham , some are saying there's a disconnect.

>> lena dunham certainly looks beautiful suggestively perched on the edge of a bathtub, but does she look like lena dunham ? within two hours of posting a $10,000 reward for the untouched images, the website jezebel got what looked to be their answer.

>> they lengthened her legs, slenderized her neck, brought her jaw in.

>> the problem according to jezebel is dunham is the poster girl for being real. on her hbo show "girls," she not only embraces but flaunts her quote, unquote imperfections.

>> they take her and hide these imperfections we knew were there. doesn't make a lot of sense.

>> for years, jezebel has made a mission of outing photo shop fashion images, most famous was faith hill 's "redbook" cover. since then, the fashion industry as a whole has been criticized for its unrealistic portrayal of women. in just 37 seconds, this youtube video shows how much photo shop can alter appearances. not to mention recent covers where," elle" showed just a portrait of mindy kaling . they didn't respond directly to the dunham criticism but wrote in part, lena is a strong, confident woman who charts her own path and makes her an inspiring role model and a perfect cover for our february issue. as for dunham herself, she says she's not sure what all the fuss is about, saying, i haven't been keeping track of all the reactions, but i know some people have been very angry about the cover and that confuses me a little. i don't understand why. photoshop or no, having a whom who is different from the typical "vogue" cover girl could be a bad thing.

>> now jezebel itself is coming under fire. some calling the bounty of $10,000 a witch hunt . and considering how minor the changes were, they were trying to create a controversy where there really wasn't one.

>> all right. thank you so much.

>>> let's turn to steve a media analyst and author of "you are the brand." and robin silverman. good morning to both of you.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> seems like we see these all the time. there's outrage and then outrage about the outrage. where do you come down on this? do you think "vogue" deserves scorn or credit for putting a real woman on the cover?

>> well, goes both ways. you have two brands, savannah, they're like smashing into each other. one brand you've got lena dunham who says, look, be yourself, embrace your body the way it is. but the problem is, that's not what "vogue" is. it's a magazine that says, look, you want to be on the cover, it's not really real. we photoshop, air brush , do all those things. these two brands conflict. and the problem is, when that happens, you want to be on the cover, lena dunham in my view went along with it to be on the cover. and i think she's great. she's saying to her fans, i don't understand what all this is about. she does because that's not why they love her.

>> it's not like it was a dramatic transformation she's unrecognizable. if you look at some of the before and after pictures, is it really so dramatically different?

>> i think there's a controversy because not only do you have these photos in this magazine with this very self-assured woman. but you also know they're photo shopped. and on the other hand, you have this website highlighting photoshopping and saying this is not right, we don't want it, she doesn't need it, but they paid money for the photos and they dissected the photos bit by bit and feels like possible body shaming and also feeling like maybe we're doing more harm than good.

>> the other thing, first of all, she looks great. i've looked at both. and her brand is not going to take a hit in this way. she looks great either way . i just wish she would be up front and say, look. if she said if you want to see what i really look like, watch the series. the funny thing is this, the art to me is about they put feathers on her, had a pigeon thing, that's great. but when they shaved down her jaw and made her hips, that's not art. that's really saying we don't like the way you look and we're going to change it for the cover of "vogue." that's fashion, not her brand, in my opinion. either way , she's still a star.

>> there was a time when people didn't necessarily know about photoshopping. they weren't aware of how much retouching was done. maybe they didn't really look like these impossible to get images. now we do know about it. and aren't people buying magazines like "vogue" buying the fantasy? they're not buying a nature magazine .

>> i see what you're saying. but the studies keep showing us that the more women and girls see these images that are perfect, the more body shaming we do, the more body bulldying as i call it and presenting an audience. and we don't want them to look at themselves and say, i'm not good enough. and if lena dunham 's not good enough, how will i be good enough?

>> she's a role model for everyone.

>> and those are powerful images. good to have a conversation