Self Magazine Defends Photoshopped Picture of Kelly Clarkston


Photo:  Scope Features,; Self; via

The blog-o-sphere has been a buzz about the photoshopped cover shot of Kelly Clarkston for Self magazine’s September issue.  So much buzz in fact, the magazine felt the need to defend their decision even before the issue hit news stands.

The whole to-do started when it became very apparent that former American Idol winner, Clarkston had a significant amount of weight shaved off her cover shot.  When folks started calling out the photo, editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger defended her position with the following comments in a post on her blog at

“Yes. Of course we do retouching (though it’s technically not Photoshop, but that is semantics). We correct color and other aspects of the digital pictures we take and then publish the best version we can.”

“Portraits like the one we take each month for the cover of SELF are not supposed to be unedited or a true-to-life snapshot…”

“Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best. Did we publish an act of fiction? No. Not unless you think all photos are that. But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand.”

My interpretation: She may look confident, but we thought she looked too fat—and this is a fitness magazine after all—so we had to shave off several inches.

“Then we edit the film and choose the best pictures.  “[W]e mark up the photograph to correct any awkward wrinkles in the blouse, flyaway hair and other things that might detract from the beauty of the shot. This is art, creativity and collaboration. It’s not, as in a news photograph, journalism. It is, however, meant to inspire women to want to be their best. That is the point.”

So Kelly, you should want to look 10-15lbs lighter and we, the reader, want that for you too. 

Danziger also willingly admits to altering her own photos issued in the magazine to look thinner in the name of looking her personal best.

“When I ran the marathon five years ago, I was so proud of myself for completing it in under five hours and not walking a single step. But my hips looked big in some of the photos (I was heavier then), so when I wanted to put one of them on the editor’s letter in SELF, I asked the art department to shave off a little. I am confident in my body, proud of what it can accomplish, but it just didn’t look the way I wanted in every picture.”

What do you think?  Much to do about nothing?  Or is this a real problem?

Tell me what you think.

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1 Comment

Filed under Beauty, body image

One response to “Self Magazine Defends Photoshopped Picture of Kelly Clarkston

  1. Amy

    It is no wonder women in American are so neurtotic about weight. In a publication promoting being your best “self” we are essentially being told that will never be good enough. What BS!!!

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