Impossibly Beautiful

Singer Kelly Clarkson on the September issue of Self magazine:

Clarkson performing on Good Morning America, July 31:

[Click to embiggen.]

I don't guess that anyone here is going to presume I'm suggesting Clarkson looks anything but awesome in that second candid shot, but lest I give anyone the wrong impression: She looks awesome. I have no criticism of Clarkson at all. I do, however, have a little issue with (repeat offender) Self.

Especially given that Self purports to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes—even as its editor admits unapologetically that Clarkson was Photoshopped and tries to diminish the impact of such a decision:
"Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images," Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danziger tells ET. Airbrushing images is an industry standard, and the mag stands behind its decision.

"SELF magazine inspires and informs our 6 million readers each month to reach their all around best," Lucy adds. "Kelly Clarkson exudes confidence, and is a great role model for women of all sizes and stages of their life. She works out and is strong and healthy, and our picture shows her confidence and beauty."
Sure, okay, but it doesn't actually show what she looks like.

Is the irony of their cover model not looking like herself on the cover of Self magazine, which ostensibly promotes accepting oneself, really lost on the editors? Danziger insists: "We love this cover and we love Kelly Clarkson." In fact, we love her so much we couldn't possibly allow her to actually look like her grotesque self on the cover of our magazine, because she's obviously deluded about how she looks! So deluded, she thinks she looks fine, the poor dear!
"My happy weight changes," she tells SELF. "Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more. I'll be different sizes all the time. When people talk about my weight, I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem with it; I don't. I'm fine!' I've never felt uncomfortable on the red carpet or anything."
Despite every attempt to make her feel like total shit about herself.


By way of reminder: Comments that try to suss out what changes, exactly, were made, and even comments noting that, for example, the removal of laugh lines because they are ZOMG wrinkles actually robs a face of its character or humanity, are welcome. Discussions of how "she looks prettier/hotter/better in the candid picture" and associated commentary (which would certainly make me feel like shit if I were the person being discussed) are not. So please comment in keeping with the series' intent, implicit in which is the question: If no one can ever be beautiful enough, then to what end is the pursuit of an elusive perfection?

[Impossibly Beautiful: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four.]

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