Instagram to scold ESPN The Magazine about alleged re-touching applied to her cover photo with Kobe Bryant for the magazine's music issue.Nicki Minaj is not happy. On Thursday, the singer took to
On Thursday, Minaj posted to Instagram an original photo from her shoot, captioning it, "When retouching goes wrong" and added, "I love my personal un-touched photos where my forehead doesn't mysteriously grow in length."
The photos she posted weren't shot from the same angle as the cover photo, but Minaj does look considerably different — on the finished product, her forehead and nose look pretty lengthened.
Here's the thing: While it's worth paying attention to any celebrity who brings attention to extreme airbrushing, doing so for the right reasons is just as key. Minaj's fans cheered the singer for "calling out" the magazine for airbrushing, but back up — Minaj doesn't claim to be against re-touched photos; rather, she doesn't appreciate when retouching "goes wrong."
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Similarly, back in 2012, Keira Knightley, shared her disappointment with Allure magazine about how much larger her breasts looked in the 2004 poster for the film King Arthur.
The modestly endowed actress was depicted with much bigger assets, a detail Knightley didn't mind per se — as long as they looked perky. "I was only angry when they were really, really droopy," she told the magazine. "I thought, 'Well, if you're going to make me fantasy breasts, at least make perky breasts." To this day, Knightley is hailed for "speaking out" against airbrushing.
Other celebs send mixed messages. Take actress Jennifer Lawrence, who is infamous for her healthy body acceptance — in February, she balked at her new Dior campaign, exclaiming, "That doesn't look like me at all!" then curiously added, "I love Photoshop more than anything in the world."
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Airbrushing is a hot topic and there are endless examples of the media pushing the limits in its pursuit of perfection. In early January, Hungarian singer Boggie debuted a music video for the song “Nouveau Parfum,” in which she depicted the impact of airbrushing — while Boggie sings to the camera, a software program transforms her into a “finished product” by way of skin lightening, hair coloring, and other alterations. That same month, Vogue became the subject of controversy after cropping Lena Dunham’s cover photo to hide her curvy body and digitally altering her inside shots.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a little digital altering to change background scenery or tweak poor lighting. It’s when the media perfects already near-perfect celebrities to outrageous proportions that the issue becomes problematic. Lady Gaga said it best in November, while giving a speech at Glamour magazine's 2013 Women of the Year Awards, Lady Gaga took the magazine to task for alleged excessive retouching, saying "The picture, which I'm very grateful for and very happy to be on this cover — I felt it was too beautiful. I felt my skin looked too perfect, and my hair looked too soft. This is not usually how I dress or how I carry myself."
Nicki Minaj is calling attention to the matter, and that's great, but her gripes stem from vanity, not ethics, — not exactly the strongest argument for the war against body image. The bottom line: It's important for celebrities to speak out against retouching, but it's just as important that the message they're sending to their fans is crystal clear.