Archive for the ‘Poll’ Category


Some of Australia’s biggest selling magazines have recently been advancing the ‘body love’ concept by producing unretouched magazine covers. The November 2009 issue of Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW) featured 37 years old ex-model, now TV host Sarah (O’Hare) Murdoch on its cover :

Photographer: TBA

Ms Murdoch said she doesn’t like airbrushed photographs of herself. “I think when I’m retouched in photographs it’s worse, because when people see me in real life, they go, ‘Oh, God, isn’t she old?,” she told the magazine.

At the time, AWW Editor Helen McCabe said the magazine often received letters about their use of airbrushing but that this cover example may not set a precedent.

“I can’t possibly commit to that, I’m a realist. There are real business imperatives why magazines have gone this way, it’s a very competitive industry and I’m at this stage just taking a little baby step and seeing how this goes for now.” She said she was interested to see what kind of debate was stirred up by the issue of the magazine. “The one point I have to make is that this is possibly one of, if not the most beautiful woman in Australia that I’ve done this to, so the risk is not that high.” (emphasis mine)

It would be remiss of me to not point out that appearing unretouched on a magazine cover shows that Ms Murdoch walks her talk, as she is a member of an Australian federally-appointed national advisory group on body image. Chaired by former Cosmopolitan editor Mia Freedman and including academics and representatives from youth magazines and organizations, government, and specialist health foundations, the group formulated a voluntary code of conduct to urge the use of healthy weight models, realistic and natural images of people and to urge disclosure when images of people have been digitally manipulated. The code of conduct forms part of a national strategy on body image and is contained in a report, available here with the full list of group members.

And now to February 2010 issue of Marie Claire, soon to released with an unretouched (albeit fake-tanned and with makeup) nude portrait of Miss Universe 2004, Jennifer Hawkins:

Photographer: TBA

It should be noted that Marie Claire Editor Jackie Frank has gone on record saying the national code of conduct has nothing to do with her decision to run the cover, and goes so far as to say that the code has had no real impact and the money would have been better spent elsewhere. Ms. Frank says that the cover concept was a result of a survey undertaken by the magazine that showed 12% of 5500 women surveyed were happy with their bodies – an interesting reframe given it’s always how unhappy women are that gets the headlines. Putting an unretouched photo on the Australian cover when the US edition has not yet done the same shows this editor has both considerable moxie and sway with her publishers.

And yet…having a 26 year old ex-model and internationally-voted beauty queen posing nude for an unretouched cover is not really stretching visual boundaries. She is not going to break the camera! and the shot/hair is composed so that fine lines or cellulite wouldn’t be seen to any real degree.

So are these unretouched covers an advance towards promoting a truer ideal of beauty, or can a real revolution only happen when the cover celebrates a more unconventional type of beauty by giving it the same non-treatment? As Helen McCabe indicated, it is indeed baby steps. After all, the December 2009 cover of AWW featured size 16 Julie Goodwin, winner of the first cycle of Masterchef looking very heavily retouched indeed as compared to her photos inside. Size diversity win, retouching fail.

Photographer: David Gubert

And the January 2010 cover of AWW, featuring Australian female celebrities all aged 35+ years certainly has seen the inside of a digital retouching studio. Age diversity win, looking their actual age retouching fail.

Photographer: David Gubert

So tell me – what makes a cover interesting to you? Does anyone buy a magazine based on the cover alone, or does the whole of the content drive your decision? Your comments and thoughts are appreciated, as is participation in the poll, below.

Vive la revolution!