First, Lena Dunham posted this photo to Instagram, showing her on the cover of the Spanish magazine, Tentaciones.
Her caption questioned the honesty of the publication:
Oh hello El Pais! I am genuinely honored to be on your cover and so happy you licensed a pic by @ruvenafanador, who always makes me feel gorgeous. BUT this is NOT what my body has ever looked like or will ever look like- the magazine has done more than the average photoshop. So if you’re into what I do, why not be honest with your readers?
Tentaciones then responded in an open letter to Dunham, telling how they were ultimately responsible, but that the photo was approved by her own team:
Of course, we are aware that any media outlet needs to be responsible for what it publishes, but this photo was previously approved by the agency, the photographer and your publicist. For the front cover of the magazine we used an image from the shoot you did in 2013 with the photographer Ruven Afanador, and which was published at the time by Entertainment Weekly.
Then Dunham took to Instagram, responding again:
She apologized and thanked the magazine for highlighting the original image:
Hey Tentaciones- thank you for sending the uncropped image (note to the confused: not unretouched, uncropped!) and for being so good natured about my request for accuracy. I understand that a whole bunch of people approved this photo before it got to you- and why wouldn’t they? I look great. But it’s a weird feeling to see a photo and not know if it’s your own body anymore (and I’m pretty sure that will never be my thigh width but I honestly can’t tell what’s been slimmed and what hasn’t.)
But then Dunham said she wasn’t blaming anyone – except “society at large,” and specifically pointed out Hillary Clinton haters,
“Maybe it’s seeing my candidate of choice get bashed as much for having a normal woman’s body as she is for her policies. Maybe it’s getting sick and realizing ALL that matters is that this body work, not that it be milky white and slim.”
However, this instance played out far differently in 2014 when her photoshoot with Vogue was discovered by Jezebel to be altered.
[gif_wrapper url=http://cdn1.ijr.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/lena.gif width=’100%’ ar=0.659375 background=http://cdn1.ijr.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/lena-150×150.gif]
She described the edits to Grantland‘s Bill Simmons:
“…they smoothed a line here, and shaved a line on my neck. It was the most minimal retouching. I felt completely respected by Vogue…”
She told Slate France (via Time.com) that the controversy surrounding the photoshopped images was confusing:
“I never felt bullied into anything; I felt really happy because they dressed me and styled me in a way that really reflects who I am… 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 woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing.”
She instead pointed a finger at Jezebel, accusing them of bringing up the photoshop job out of nowhere.
“Instead of going like, ‘Hey, we kinda f***ed up, these pictures aren’t that retouched Lena, enjoy the Vogue spread that you’ve been excited about since you were eight years old,’ they were like, ‘She’s not retouched, but she could’ve been.’ It was this weird almost political maneuvering that I just had a lot of trouble respecting.”
Due in part to her outspoken manner, Dunham garners a slew of detractors, including a “large swath” she describes to the Daily Beast as mostly ‘Republican males’.
She told them there are a few potential reasons she believes they don’t like her: the fact that she is an activist for women’s rights, the content of her show Girls, or the way she exposes her body on that show.
So while there are many ‘Republican males’ inspiring headlines like ‘The Right-Wing War on Lena Dunham‘, there is still room for Americans that appreciate her activism, don’t care about her show, but aren’t in love with watching an influential and politically active celebrity – one their children or peers may follow on social media – skirt responsibility for things that she can control, like the team she hires.
Of course, putting all of this information together could be considered cherry picking. But even if that’s the case, she is still redirecting blame, responsibility and personal criticism to everyone but herself and/or the team that she’s hired, at least in this particular instance.