So, three months (and one Press Complaints Commission inquiry) after the furore, Grazia
has officially admitted to and apologised for digitally altering an image of the Duchess of Cambridge on its front cover – an image in which she appeared to have the unfeasibly waspish waist of a Barbie doll.
The picture, the magazine said, came about when art workers cut William out of the frame and replaced Kate's right arm with a mirror image of her left one. But the Frankenstein result, in which an already teensy weensy Ms Middleton had so very obviously been made even thinner, had people waving their fists.
And rightly so, in my opinion. This was the magazine's response last night: "[Grazia
] would like to reassure all our readers that we did not purposely make any alternations to the Duchess of Cambridge's image to make her appear slimmer, and we are sorry if this process gave that impression." Gave that impression? Of course it gave that impression. Because, whether it was intentional or not, slim down the duchess is exactly what they did. Blaming it on shoddy Photoshop work (and I have asked an expert who concurs it is indeed very shoddy) just isn't good enough really is it?
Someone there looked at that cover and made an editorial decision that it was a-ok. Printed, delivered, purchased, and into the homes of thousands of would-be princesses. Okay, this might just be one picture but it's the tip of the iceberg. Julie Burchill wrote recently for MyDaily on why she likes looking at airbrushed pictures
. I guess I agree to an extent that, when we know we're looking at a face that has been perfected, we feel let off, less inclined to make comparisons to our own blemishes.
But that said, I do think a line should be drawn between the commercial and the editorial. It's easy to take those flawless faces in ads for miracle skin creams with a big old pinch of (wrinkle inducing) salt. Just like when, on paragraph four of an advertorial, you realise someone is just trying to sell you something you don't want, you switch off and you move on.
What's the excuse for editors agreeing to shave inches off the thighs and bottoms of female celebrities though? For what purpose do they do that? Go online and Google 'photoshopped celebrities' and you will be presented with hundreds of before and after pictures of (probably size 8) actresses and pop stars. Bigger boobs here, slimmer waists and ankles there. No cellulite, no muffin tops, no wobbly bits at all – everything perfectly symmetrical.
There are countless images, printed week in week out in UK magazines and newspapers, that are not there to sell you something by stretching the truth, just as you'd expect any salesman to – they are purporting to tell it like it is. Where is the editorial integrity in that?
It is all part of a much bigger debate – one I touched on when I wrote here about the awful news that children are increasingly being treated for eating disorders
. Bad attitudes to food and health, a terribly disproportionate amount of importance placed on body image, a continuing obsession with celebrities' weight (and let's be frank, all the papers delightedly reporting on Grazia's faux pas today have frequently made their own comments as self-appointed Kate-weight-watchers).
But the media are in a unique position to actually change some of those things – it's about time they did so by banning the ridiculous 'perfecting' of the female form. To all the celebrities who agree to photo shoots only if they are subsequently re-touched to oblivion: get over yourselves. And to all the magazines and newspapers who print those fabricated images of a supposedly immaculate truth, try telling the actual truth – just for a change.