It didn't take long for Jezebel to find someone to hand over the unretouched Vogue photos of Lena Dunham, and guess what? They're pretty boring.
We wrote yesterday about how the site's $10,000 bounty for images of Dunham pre-manipulation was—in the words of Diablo Cody—"total mean-girl shit masquerading as feminism." But someone was quick to hand some of them over and the site was quick to turn them into GIFs and draw arrows pointing to all the spots in which Dunham had been altered, like some sort of sorority hazing ritual.
Perhaps most ridiculously, the site points out how a pigeon did not really sit on Dunham's head for a photo shoot. Yes, that pigeon was an example of a shocking "stock pigeon photo." Jezebel editor-in-chief Jessica Coen writes: "The photographs are meant to be a fantasy, art. That's why someone (Ms. Leibovitz?) took the time to Photoshop a pigeon on Dunham's head — and paste her studio image onto an outdoor background." Fashion photography isn't supposed to be art? Tell that to Richard Avedon. (Photographic manipulation is, we should remind everyone, is not exactly something new either.)
It's easy to make the case that retouching someone's body is bad, particularly a body that's been under as much scrutiny as Ms. Dunham's (scrutiny that's been greatly amplified by Jezebel's quest for truth). But it's harder to make the case that fashion photographers, artists, shouldn't be able to alter images for purposes of composition. Is a pigeon on a head silly? Probably! It sure seems like that's the point. Is it fraudulent or dishonest, though? Whether or not you agree with the artistic value of pigeon-headed celebrities, it's hard to argue that such an image is scandalous. To imply that Leibovitz and Vogue and, yes, even Dunham should be ashamed because a bird was superimposed on her head is just silly.
For once, maybe Dunham should have the last word on this 48-hour strife:
Some shit is just too ridiculous to engage. Let's use our energy wisely, 2014.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) January 17, 2014
Update: Vogue has responded via Instagram for the benefit of pigeon truthers:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.