Jackie Frank: doing her bit for ethical editorial standards
Posted by Nic Heath on January 5, 2010
Next month Marie Claire will hit newsstands with an untouched photograph of a nude Jennifer Hawkins gracing the cover.
According to the Daily Telegraph, editor of Marie Claire, Jackie Frank, said the publication of the images…
“…will raise funds for eating disorders support group the Butterfly Foundation, [and] were inspired by a Marie Claire survey of 5500 readers which found only 12 per cent of women were happy with their bodies.”
Putting on a magazine cover an untouched photograph of a naturally beautiful woman, and one whose body is a commodity and thus the product of much investment (time and work), and saying it is because 88 per cent of the surveyed readership are unhappy with their body, is an exercise in untruth. Crucially, it is also admitting that the publication of airbrushed photos of women is detrimental to the self esteem of the female audience who reads the magazine, no matter what the editors say.
Publishing this untouched photograph, amid the unsurprising media hoopla, is more about ethical editorial standards than boosting female body image. It’s about honesty and transparency, and about admitting that positing images of digitally altered women as pinnacles of beauty has a negative effect on female readers who are led to believe that in order to be as beautiful as possible they need to look like what are effectively cartoons.
Jen Hawkins as role model is not what should be happening here. Photographs of women who don’t represent the zenith of current ideas about beauty would be more suitable to be marketed as providing women with role models – and since the story broke Mumbrella has quoted Jackie Frank denying the role model spin (“we’re not saying Jennifer is what all women should aspire to”). Jen Hawkins here is just being beautiful, as she is. Jackie Frank’s decision to use this photo on the cover should not be considered “daring” or “revolutionary” – it should be accepted practice.
It is more educational than anything – that something as insignificant (and I would say fetching!) as a model’s waist crease would normally be removed from a photograph destined for magazine publication astounds me. I would love to see magazine pages filled with women who have not been digitally enhanced and homogenised – like these photos of Jen, and too Bianca Dye in Madison.
Clem Bastow makes a necessary point when she writes, “It’s imperative that women stop defining ourselves by our body shape. There are simply more important things to worry about – pay issues, maternity leave and sexual violence spring to mind – and better things to celebrate, such as our minds, hearts and work.”
However right now, in this imperfect world, women are influenced by the images they see on billboards, in magazines and on the Internet. If the practice of digitally altering photographs to remove perceived flaws and blemishes is not to be outlawed immediately, then in the short term magazines such as Marie Claire should be impelled to clearly state when photographs have been airbrushed.