VOGUE Criticized for Photoshopped Adele Cover

Photo via The Examiner.

A new VOGUE cover with an obviously altered photo of singer Adele has outraged her fans. Adele, whose recent Grammy wins have shot her into the spotlight, has been outspoken about self-acceptance, encouraging women to have a positive body image even if they don’t look like a typical cover girl:

“I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.”

Readers have left angry comments on VOGUE’s website, angry that the magazine turned Adele into “Barbie.” Experts are also speaking out:
Anne Becker, an expert in the media and body image at Harvard Medical School, told CBS News that photoshopping isn’t victimless crime.

“What is concerning about images that are altered is that it sets unrealistic expectations for girls and young women. If they are not yet sophisticated media consumers, there may be some dissonance between what they feel they can live up to, and what they can actually attain or what’s actually healthy to attain,” said Becker, who is a Professor of Health and Global Medicine.

See these articles for the full story:

Vogue magazine turned Adele into a ‘Barbie’, say angry fans (Digital Journal)

Vogue trims away at Adele: What photoshopping means for body image (The Examiner)


Media Images and Real Violence

Alison Saunders, head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, has warned that the mainstream media’s poor treatment of women actually impacts the outcomes of rape cases. Photo via The Guardian.

A brilliant article published today by Holly Dustin illustrates the connection between images of women in the media and the way sexual violence is excused, normalized and dismissed in real life – even within the justice system.

From the Guardian article:

Every part of our society seems to be infected by prejudicial attitudes to rape; from the justice secretary’s comments about rape last year, to Facebook pages that promote sexual violence, to the casual use of rape jokes by top comedians and the outpouring of misogyny on male university students’ websites. Hardly surprising then that surveys consistently show that around a third of people in the UK believe that if a woman is raped then she should be held at least partially responsible if she did not behave like a “perfect” victim, either because of what she was wearing or if she had been drinking.

Dustin calls for radical reform – a “revolution in the way we understand and deal with sexual violence” – including the way we represent women in the media:

We need to tackle the messages we receive through the media – whether it is our daily newspapers inaccurately and over-reporting false allegations of rape, whether it is sexualised music videos and games where women are portrayed as sexual objects there purely for men’s pleasure, or the threats of sexual violence that women writers and bloggers receive to shut down debate.

You can read the full article here:
Time for a revolution in the way we deal with rape


Glamour Magazine Agrees to Reduce Photoshopping

Glamour Magazine

Glamour MagazinePhoto via The Gloss.com.

Glamour Magazine has pledged to rely less on Photoshopping, after asking for input from its readers. While they haven’t agreed to scrap the practice of retouching photographs altogether, they have decided to stop giving models “digital diets” by reducing or manipulating their body size.

This is great news. Let’s hope this sets a trend in the fashion magazine industry.

You can read the announcement on Glamour.com or check out this response on TheGloss.com.


Leveson inquiry addresses representations of women

Photo via The Guardian.

British media ethics are on trial thanks to the ongoing Leveson Inquiry,  a response to the recent News International phone-hacking scandal that shocked the world.

Representatives of women’s groups including Equality Now, Eaves, Object and End Violence Against Women (a coalition of 40 organizations) have come forward to demand that media outlets be held accountable for “attitudes which condone violence against women or girls.”

Their complaints are not limited to the topless models on page 3 of a popular British tabloid, but include ongoing news coverage that routinely dismisses and trivializes violence against women.

From the Guardian:

The Daily Telegraph was criticised for a report which they said suggested a man had murdered his wife after she changed her Facebook status to “single”, and said too often media reports of violence against women focused on the behaviour of the victim.

A Daily Mail report about six footballers being jailed after gang raping 12-year-old girls in a “midnight park orgy” was criticised for the use of the word “orgy” and for referring to the victims as “Lolitas”.

Establishing that sexism is a widespread problem in Britain’s media culture would be a big step, and it could have far-reaching implications beyond the UK.

Read more on this story:

Leveson inquiry must address sexist media stereotypes, say women’s groups
The Guardian – January 24, 2012

Leveson inquiry: Sun editor recalled for questioning on Page 3
The Guardian – Feb 2, 2012

Feminist “hypocrisy” isn’t the problem



This is a response to Feminist hypocrisy on honour killings published in the National Post Jan 31, 2012.


Geeti, Zainab and Sahar Shafia plus Rona Amir Mohammad, found dead in June 2009 (Trial evidence via CBC)


Apologies, Barbara Kay, but let me count the ways your article about “feminist hypocracy” misses the mark. Your article suggests that:

1. Domestic violence in the West is “individual domestic partners who have a problem on an individual level,” whereas honor killings are culturally based.

North Americans do live in a sexist culture. Violence against women here doesn’t just consist of individual men and women fighting in the privacy of their homes. There are ingrained, systemic, deep-rooted assumptions and practices within our culture that make abuse, rape and murder of women so prevalent in our news, entertainment, language, and daily realities.

2. Honour killings force Feminists to choose between defending abused women or defending multiculturalism.

Although many reporters have turned the Shafia murder trial into another post-9/11 contemplation about violent Muslims, honor killings need not be an issue of religion. Islam is no more about the abuse of women than Christianity is about war, or Catholicism is about child abuse. Let’s not “throw the baby out with the bath water,” as you put it.
Let’s not bury our heads either. As with recent controversy over a high rate of sex-selective abortions among certain populations, denying there is a problem is pointless. Solutions need to come from within the community.

3. Feminists think violence against women is “an inherent impulse in men” and not “contingent on historical and cultural circumstances.”

See number 1. (And thanks for re-hashing the classic man-hating feminist stereotype – that never gets old!)
Violence is not an inherent impulse in men. Anger is an inherent instinct in all humans, and unfortunately, our historical and cultural pattern is to punish men who show emotion that isn’t anger, or take action that isn’t aggressive. This is damaging to everyone, men included.

4. Western Feminists want to rescue women from their cultures, and liberate them from their families.

There’s a misconception, even in North America, that you can’t be a liberated woman and a wife or mother at the same time. Staying home with kids means giving up your career, and leaving your kids in daycare means giving up your kids. Women are constantly judged for their life choices. But we at least have those choices.
One aim of feminism is to ensure that women have control over their own destinies. Women should feel safe from violence whether they decide to wear hijab, bottle-feed their children, opt for an arranged marriage, pursue a career – or decide not to.
Diversity isn’t just about race; it means that we are all different, and have value as unique individuals even when our choices and lifestyles differ.
That diversity applies to feminists, also. Despite the differences between radical SlutWalk supporters and the socially conservative “family feminists” you identify with, we can all agree that what happened to the Shafia women was horrifying and wrong.
Violence against anyone must not be tolerated, whether it’s an honour killing, or another form of spousal abuse. There are many explanations for why it happens, but there is no excuse for letting it continue.
Katherine Toms is a member of Media Action’s Board of Directors. She earned a degree in Information and Media Studies from the University of Western Ontario with a focus on gender studies and identity.