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Kerry Washington says she didn’t recognize herself on Adweek’s cover


Photo: Instagram/kerrywashington
Photo: Instagram/kerrywashington

Another day, another celebrity calling BS on Photoshopping.

Last week, everyone’s favorite DC fixer—the illustrious Olivia Pope…er, Kerry Washington—spoke out on Instagram about the fact that she hardly recognized herself on a recent cover of Adweek. But in true Olivia Pope fashion, the Scandal star addressed the retouching like a total classy pro. (It’s handled—as Washington’s alter-ego would say.)

So…You know me. I'm not one to be quiet about a magazine cover. I always celebrate it when a respected publication invites me to grace their pages. It's an honor. And a privilege. And ADWEEK is no exception. I love ADWEEK. It's a publication I appreciate. And learn from. I've long followed them on Twitter. And when they invited me to do a cover, I was excited and thrilled. And the truth is, I'm still excited. I'm proud of the article. And I like some of the inside images a great deal. But, I have to be honest…I was taken aback by the cover. Look, I'm no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters – who doesn't love a filter?!? And I don't always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it's a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It's an unfortunate feeling. That being said. You all have been very kind and supportive. Also, as I've said, I'm very proud of the article. There are a few things we discussed in the interview that were left out. Things that are important to me (like: the importance of strong professional support and my awesome professional team) and I've been thinking about how to discuss those things with anyone who is interested, in an alternate forum. But until then…Grab this week's ADWEEK. Read it. I hope you enjoy it. And thank you for being patient with me while I figured out how to post this in a way that felt both celebratory and honest. XOXOXOX

A photo posted by Kerry Washington (@kerrywashington) on

“Look, I’m no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot,” the actress wrote. “Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling.”

But for Washington, this wasn’t just another case of over-retouching. The actress appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Session Sunday to talk about the cover. “I was very taken aback and very uncomfortable about looking at an image that I did not recognize as myself,” she told Winfrey. “In a way, to be honest, I felt like that is not okay with me because that echoes that little girl who thought I wasn’t enough, and I know that I’m enough.”

While the actress, who will star as Anita Hill in the upcoming HBO film Confirmation, may have a killer career now, she told Winfrey the road to Olivia Pope-dom wasn’t easy, in large part because of her appearance and unwillingness to conform to Hollywood’s ideals. “In the beginning of my career, I was often told to fix things like fix your teeth, wear your hair differently or dress differently, or I was too ethnic or I didn’t speak black enough,” Washington says. “These were the reasons why I wasn’t making it in the beginning of my career.”

Washington explained that before Scandal, she did two other pilots for TV shows. “Both of them got picked up, but I was fired,” she told Winfrey. “I think [it was] because I’ve always been me. I didn’t really conform. I didn’t really change those things that people told me I had to change.”

But now? “Most of the beginning of my life, I was fighting the idea that I was not enough. That I had to be fixed,” Washington says. “I think I spent the first 20 years of my life trying to be someone else. I just don’t have the energy at this point.”

Handled, indeed.

Kerry, we’d love to send you a little hit of positive energy: Try taking a stress-reducing “light bath” with Gabrielle Bernstein, or give yourself an extra dose of self-love