The Blog

Lena Dunham and Vogue

What big feminist point was Jezebel hoping to prove by exposing what we already know, that Vogue alters photographs?

$10,000 was the amount offered to anyone who could hand over the un-Photoshopped images of this month's Vogue cover star, actress Lena Dunham.

Here is my two pence, for what it is worth.

Girls unashamedly looks at the 20Something journey, and Dunham is known for her brave nude scenes that are the antidote to the unrealistic images of women usually portrayed in the media.

But it was cold hard cash behind the plea made by 'feminist' blog Jezebel, desperate to show how Vogue had altered Dunham's appearance.

They wanted us to be furious with Dunham, that she, the champion of real, had allowed them to alter the neckline of her dress, change her face, enlarge her eyes and trim her chin and hips.

Maybe it is just me, but a feminist blog offering money, (over half many people's yearly income) to point out how her waist was bigger or her chin was fatter before, proves what exactly?

That women inherently hate each other, never stand together and are quicker to find physical reasons to pull one another apart instead of congratulating them?

For me Jezebel is in danger of perpetuating the oldest stereotypes about women, and for them as a title that should know better, to do this, is far worse than Vogue airbrushing a few pictures.

We expect Vogue to do silly things like that. Silly Vogue.

Vogue is like the child that doesn't know any better. We have to gradually teach it and maybe it will learn.

But Jezebel should know, as Lily Allen so kindly put it last year, "it's hard out here for a b****."

And while I too initially sunk in disappointment, at the news the magazine had slimmed down one of the most exciting young women writers to emerge in the 21st century, it wasn't long before I shared the picture on my Twitter, in celebration of what she has achieved.

After all, she is on the cover; Photoshopped or not, there she is still looking like a real woman, who champions real woman, with real things to say.

Remember, this is the magazine that is normally packed back to front with waif like images of bodies that say nothing at all, and there she is saying lots of things about what life is like for her and other young women like her.

Surely that alone is a step in the right direction for how women are seen in the media?

What big feminist point was Jezebel hoping to prove by exposing what we already know, that Vogue alters photographs?

Why focus on the negative when there is a much bigger positive at hand here.

Vogue doesn't normally devote editorial to women who put their blood, sweat and tears into creating art that consistently reflects the image of a real woman.

We don't always get to hear from those women who challenge the stereotypes, we certainly don't get to see them, but lo and behold, here is one, and she is on the cover, not slipped between a Burberry advert and a safari swimwear shoot.

Inside are her words about body image, feminism, writing and directing an award winning series at the age of 27.

Can we congratulate her for that?

Ask most 20Something women what Lena means to them and you will get a flurry of answers praising her wildly confident, proudly insecure, utterly hilarious show.

Ask those older and they will tell you they wished there had been a show like Girls on television when they were having uncomfortable unglamorous sex and rows with their flat mates.

If nothing else what Dunham has achieved is a brutally honest portrayal of what life is like for her and her friends.

She is an undeniably good writer and director and has achieved things at 27 people work a life time for.

She isn't the stick thin stunner Hollywood wants to see and that doesn't matter one bit, because what she has to say is more powerful than that.

There have been definite gaps in Girls, mostly to do with the omission of diversity that is not portrayed in her version of downtown mainly white New York, but her body image message speaks for women of all backgrounds, classes and colours.

She hasn't let us down by being airbrushed; she's done us proud by being important enough to ensure Vogue put her on the cover instead of an apparently teenage Swedish model.

As she said herself:

"I never felt bullied into anything I felt happy because they dressed me and styled me in a way that really reflects who I am.

"I know some people have been 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."

As they say Rome wasn't built in a day and I can't help but think that $10,000 offered to publicly point out Dunham's perceived flaws would have been better donated to a charity that tackles a real female problem, such as the victims of female genital mutilation. Perhaps?