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Lena Dunham takes a vow of Photoshop chastity


Photo: Instagram/lenadunham
Photo: Instagram/lenadunham

Read her lips: No more Photoshopping.

Lena Dunham has had it with having her body touched up by the media, she writes in the most recent edition of her newsletter, Lenny Letter. The actress says she’ll no longer agree to pose for magazine photo shoots unless she’s assured there won’t be any post-production retouching. Why? Because a recent Instagram scroll session led her to a photo of a magazine cover with a girl she barely recognized on the cover—and that girl was her.

“My chin was strong and defined, practically another continent from my neck, and my legs and arms were lean and milky white instead of their usual mottled pink,” Dunham writes. “I’m not sure what it was about this particular image that set me off…I wanted to tell people, loudly: ‘That’s not my body!'”

“If any magazines want to guarantee they’ll let my stomach roll show and my reddened cheek make an appearance, I am your girl Friday”

In a world where many people would love to have their Instagrams touched up by a pro, Dunham is taking the opposite approach, saying she barely recognizes her own body anymore. (She’s not alone:  We firmly support the growing trend of women talking up honesty on social media and beyond.)

Here are five important body image takeaways from Lena Dunham’s open letter.

Photo: Lena Dunham's Instagram
Photo: Lena Dunham’s Instagram

1. She was understandably excited the first time she was Photoshopped.

“I was 24, and whatever they did to make women appear important, desirable, and worthy of praise was what I wanted,” Dunham writes.

2. Her 2014 Vogue cover was a high point—and then a very low point.

“The shoot was a fantasy, and I felt, perhaps for the first time ever, like a glamorous adult with a body worth wanting,” says Dunham. But when the cover was revealed, Jezebel claimed the image was highly retouched. “I was no less than heartbroken,” the actress remembers. “It felt like having the stuffing ripped from my bra at the seventh-grade dance. Would I ever get the chance to just be beautiful, no questions asked?”

3. She’s aware of what people think about her body.

Dunham knows that when a photographer says, “We’ll fix it in post,” that doesn’t “just mean the odd shadow or wrinkle in my skirt,” she says. “They mean the parts of me that are ungainly and overstuffed. They mean the parts that hang over waistbands and bubble out from under Spanx.”

4. But now she’s done.

Dunham says something snapped when she saw that magazine cover on Instagram (above). “I knew I was done,” she writes. “The gap between what I believe and what I allow to be done to my image has to close now. I bid farewell to an era when my body was fair game.”

5. And she’s awesomely inspiring. 

“If any magazines want to guarantee they’ll let my stomach roll show and my reddened cheek make an appearance, I am your girl Friday,” she writes. “I want to be able to pick my own thigh out of a lineup.”

And Lena’s got more to say: Check out her spot-on fitness and body image insights and the non-resolutions she and some friends (including Saturday Night Live badass Aidy Bryant) started the year with.