body image

Lena Dunham, Vogue, and the $10,000 Bounty Heard Around the World


If you haven’t had a chance to keep up with the feminist blogosphere in the last week (because you were, say, reading 
for the 27th time), you might have missed the sh*t show that went down when Lena Dunham graced the cover of Vogue.

The actress and creator of the insanely popular HBO series Girls is often at the center of discussions about body image and Hollywood, as she openly (and very, very frequently) shows her naked body on TV in all its imperfect glory. But when her issue of Vogue came out featuring a spread of photos clearly Photoshopped (as Vogue and all other fashion magazines are wont to do), feminist website Jezebel put out a $10,000 bounty for the unretouched pictures of Dunham from the shoot.

And this upset a lot of people. Because, what, really, was the point? Of all celebrities who have graced the covers of magazines with an airbrush makeover, it seems silly to shell out that kind of dough to see pictures of someone who regularly shows us what her actually body looks every Sunday night at 10 p.m.

So what exactly was Jezebel trying to prove (besides the fact that they can get what they want in less than two hours)? Was it really out of feminism, and if so, what was the message here? That Vogue uses Photoshop? That Lena Dunham is not a size 0? Because, um, yeah.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of this public shaming, we merely celebrated the fact that Vogue opted to put a woman who looks like Dunham on the cover in the first place? 

What do you think about this whole extravaganza? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Molly TolskyMolly Tolsky is the editor of She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines including Lumina, MAKE, and The Collagist, and her non-fiction has appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward. She isn't a parent, but a very proud aunt. Follow her @mollytolsky.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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