Yesterday, I wrote about Kerry Washington’s new feature in Adweek. Click here for a refresher. I raved about the choices she is making when it comes to her brand. I didn’t mention the cover. To be honest, I thought she looked a bit off but that wasn’t interesting to me. Her intellect and her career strategy were more noteworthy. Well, last night, Kerry posted this to Instagram:
So...You know me. I'm not one to be quiet about a magazine cover. I always celebrate it when a respected publication invites me to grace their pages. It's an honor. And a privilege. And ADWEEK is no exception. I love ADWEEK. It's a publication I appreciate. And learn from. I've long followed them on Twitter. And when they invited me to do a cover, I was excited and thrilled. And the truth is, I'm still excited. I'm proud of the article. And I like some of the inside images a great deal. But, I have to be honest...I was taken aback by the cover. Look, I'm no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters - who doesn't love a filter?!? And I don't always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it's a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It's an unfortunate feeling. That being said. You all have been very kind and supportive. Also, as I've said, I'm very proud of the article. There are a few things we discussed in the interview that were left out. Things that are important to me (like: the importance of strong professional support and my awesome professional team) and I've been thinking about how to discuss those things with anyone who is interested, in an alternate forum. But until then...Grab this week's ADWEEK. Read it. I hope you enjoy it. And thank you for being patient with me while I figured out how to post this in a way that felt both celebratory and honest. XOXOXOX
I like that she starts with mentioning that being on the cover of Adweek is an “honour and a privilege.” She’s coming from a place of respect while still, in her words, being “honest and celebratory.” What a pro. So, she likes the article and doesn’t love the cover. This isn’t the first time. Kerry’s magazine covers have a controversial history. There was the December 2013/January 2014 issue of Lucky (who the eff is that?)
…and the March 2015 cover of InStyle, which appeared to have altered Kerry’s skin tone, nose and lips.
I can’t imagine what’s it’s like to see your face on a magazine cover knowing someone else decided which of your features were worthy of public consumption. Other celebs like Zendaya and Lena Dunham have also expressed their discontent over retouching. As Kerry says, “we have become a society of picture adjusters.”
In the Adweek cover, it looks like Kerry’s nose and forehead have been messed with the most. As someone with a five-head, I am personally offended. I should note that Adweek has responded to Kerry’s statements saying they only made “minimal adjustments” and “meant no disrespect.”
OK, let’s be real: do we actually solely want to see completely un-photoshopped images of celebrities? I doubt it. Heck, I filter and tweak my own images for Instagram all the time. No shame. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about changing a woman’s appearance to the point where her distinguishable qualities are almost unrecognizable. I stress the importance of representation a lot. Kerry’s presence on the covers of magazines is important. It’s necessary. It’s inspiring. Her presence also serves the purpose of depicting facial features and a skin tone we don’t always see on the cover of magazines.
Yesterday, I said that we knew Kerry as an “ivy league educated Friend of Hillary.” Some of you were quick to point out that Kerry actually went to George Washington University, which isn’t technically an ivy league. Whatever guys, I’m Canadian. What’s an ivy league? I Googled and still couldn’t figure it out. My point is that Kerry is freaking smart. She’s smart enough to truly care and think about the image she is presenting to the world. She knows what her face on a cover means.
On the heels of the incredibly inspiring Black Girls Rock special on BET last night, I can’t help but think of all the young women looking at magazine stands and hoping to see a face that resembles their own. Intentional disrespect or not, these magazines need to do better.