Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Celebrity un-retouched photos hack: An issue of consent

Un-retouched photos of both Beyoncé (for L’Oreal) and supermodel Cindy Crawford (for Marie Claire) were leaked over the span of this past week. The incidents have sparked worldwide debate, as people everywhere appeared unsettled to see the physical imperfections of women who are considered some of America’s most famous sex symbols. While some have hailed the natural photos as empowering and necessary to take down photoshop culture, the most important aspect of the situation to keep in mind is the issue of consent.

While L’Oreal has yet to comment on Beyoncé’s photos, Marie Claire has been outspoken in its support for Crawford. The fashion magazine claims that “[n]o matter where the photo came from, it’s an enlightenment — we’ve always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more.” From a PR standpoint, this is a smooth approach to take. The rise of “femvertising” has made poking holes in the media’s unrealistic portrayal of women popular and it certainly makes Marie Claire look good to support its models in moments of vulnerability. Even though Marie Claire has tried to make the best of the situation, they ignore the invasion of privacy on account of both Crawford and their company.

It is commonly recognized that the photoshopping process has helped to create unrealistic beauty standards that negatively impact women. In fact, some celebrities and companies have chosen to take on the responsibility of tearing down the photoshop culture. For example, big-name stars like Keira Knightley, Jamie Lee-Curtis and Lorde have all released unadulterated photos of themselves to promote body positivity, which have received a warm reception from the public. However, it is neither Beyoncé nor Crawford’s responsibility to single-handedly fight against the photoshop culture if they do not chose to do so. They have a right to protect their image and their personal brand; if that means using photoshop to maintain certain expectations about their appearance, then it is no one else’s right to distort that public perception in a way that could impact their livelihoods.

In Silicon Valley, Dear Kate launched an advertising campaign featuring six female tech executives bearing it all in their underwear, sans photoshop. This is the way in which individuals and organizations must go about deconstructing beauty standards. If we celebrate hackers releasing similar images without consent, then we are taking the power away from the meaningful movement and placing it in the hands of anonymous individuals with neither accountability nor good intentions in mind.

An analogous, albeit more extreme example of hackers violating female celebrities’ privacy is the summer nude photo hack by the anonymous 4Chan. In a Vanity Fair interview, Jennifer Lawrence, a central victim in the hack, shed light on the issue of consent in the case, lamenting “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.” “JLaw,” everyone’s favorite, was able to find some silver lining in the situation, calling attention to the problematic societal norm that women are not taught to celebrate sexuality but rather to be ashamed of it. Instead of bending to the norm and drafting an apology, Lawrence defended her decision to take sexual images, explaining, “I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” Similar to Beyoncé and Crawford in the photoshop debate, Lawrence was forced into the center of another gender norm conversation unwillingly. Opening up the dialogue about such topics as gender norms, especially considering the disproportionate amount of sexual violence committed against women, must be consensual.

Particularly on college campuses, where the conversation about consent is at a critical point right now, we cannot condone the invasion of a woman’s personal privacy by focusing only on unintended positive outcomes. Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz, for example. The Columbia University student was raped during her sophomore year, but took back control of the situation by choosing to become an activist for mishandled sexual assault cases on college campuses. No one (hopefully) looks back on the aftermath and thinks, “I am glad she was raped so we can have this dialogue.” While the photoshop case does not involve the same level of violation, Beyoncé and Crawford should be able to expect that their privacy be maintained and that they can control both who sees sensual images of their own bodies and in what form they are seen. Just because Beyoncé and Crawford are public figures does not mean that they automatically surrender themselves as martyrs for the cause.

As many I am sure would agree, I think both Beyoncé and Cindy Crawford are exceptionally beautiful women who do not need photoshop. Popular culture has evolved to a place where photoshop is expected, which is an unfortunate and harmful norm that needs to be changed. However, it is not up to me or the internet or society to tell these women when to deviate from the norm.

Contact Kelsey Page at kpage2 ‘at’ stanford.edu 

About Kelsey Page

Kelsey Page is an opinions fellow for The Stanford Daily. She is a freshman enjoying her time being undecided, but she is considering something in the social sciences, MS&E, or both. She will likely be found Irish dancing, reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee, or watching Friends reruns. Contact her at kpage2 'at' stanford.edu.
  • ManUpManDown

    “Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz, for example. The Columbia University student was raped during her sophomore year, . . . .”

    You know this how, exactly? You do realize, don’t you, that over the past month journalists have revealed that all evidence, save Emma claims, strongly exculpates the guy she accused, and that the Columbia campus newspaper has essentially apologized for assuming him guilty? Heck, even without these recent revelations, how can you express such certitude when Columbia University found her “rapist” not guilty, and he continues to deny it? At the very least, it seems a perfunctory “alleged” before “rapist” is in order.

  • Buck Buckerson

    Emma Sulkowicz was likely NOT raped and is more than likely a huge, lying, attention seeking ass.

  • pierceharlan

    “Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz, for example. The Columbia University student was raped during her sophomore year . . . .”

    She alleges she was raped. That’s all you can legitimately state.

  • rtdave

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think you may just be libeling the man who was accused but found ‘not responsible’ by his college, and against whom no legal action has been taken.

  • URKiddingRight

    “They have a right to protect their image and their personal brand; if that means using photoshop to maintain certain expectations about their appearance, then it is no one else’s right to distort that public perception in a way that could impact their livelihoods.”

    Public perception is not property. You don’t own it. It is the opinions of the masses. You’re essentially saying “These people have a right to lie about themselves to fool others into thinking they are something they’re not. And anyone who reveals the truth is a criminal.” That’s patently ridiculous.

    “An analogous, albeit more extreme example of hackers violating female celebrities’ privacy is the summer nude photo hack by the anonymous 4Chan.”

    This isn’t analogous at all. Those were private photos stored in secure (but not secure enough) online storage. It was legally “personal information/property”. Unless you are arguing Beyonce and Crawford owned those images – they didn’t – and that the distribution of those images was slander – it wasn’t.

    “Beyoncé and Crawford should be able to expect that their privacy be maintained and that they can control both who sees sensual images of their own bodies and in what form they are seen.”

    While you express a good moral lesson here, the fact of the matter is that Beyonce and Crawford do not have any legal or fundamental right to a commodity that they willingly gave up – namely: their public image – to PR firms and, in small amounts, media corporations.

    The only people who have any right to be pissed right now are the PR firms handling their accounts because it damages their reputation. Beyonce and Crawford have nothing to complain about.

    In regards to the Emma Sulkowicz – you know where you screwed up. Plenty of people have pointed it out. I only hope you change it before you get lambasted for the sexist agenda and narrative you’re pushing.

  • Eagle35

    Emma Sulkowicz’s alleged rapist was found not guilty and even Rolling Stone themselves had to issue an apology for their sloppy, impulsive reporting on the supposed crime. That didn’t stop his name from being slandered anyway and now he’s going to have “Alleged Rapist” follow him for the rest of his life. Let me tell you, he’s not going to be free of this association thanks to our “Lynch Mob” mentality.

  • Mindy Casper

    Kelsey Page must be getting all her information regarding Sulkowicz from the elitist, bigoted, Senator Gillibrand from the once, but not now, great state of New York. Don’t ever turn your back on either of them, they will cut ya and bleed ya real slow!!!

  • Phil Ford

    “Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz, for example. The Columbia University student was raped during her sophomore year….”

    Someone’s been drinking the Koolaid.

  • Anon

    “[n]o matter where the photo came from”

    Actually, whether this is a matter of consent hinges exactly on where the photo came from. Each photo would have been taken under some form of agreement or in a public/shared space. Under an agreement, unless the agreement specifically limited the ways the photos could be used, consent was signed away. If taken in public, then the image captured was already public and could be format shifted without a need for consent.

    So, if this photo was under an agreement as to how it could be used and that agreement restricted consent, then the initial leak was a violation of consent. Nothing else could be.

  • Utuk

    “Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz,
    for example. The Columbia University student was raped during her
    sophomore year, but took back control of the situation by choosing to
    become an activist for mishandled sexual assault cases on college
    campuses”

    Uh….How about no. She became an activist so she could bully a man found innocent by NYPD and Columbia and for an art project. Fix this to be honest instead of ideologically driven.

  • Whothehell Cares

    ” Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz, for example. The Columbia University student was raped during her sophomore year,”

    Let me correct that for you. It should read ” Take the case of Emma Sulkowicz, for example. The Columbia University student ALLEGED she was raped during her sophomore year,”

    As a journalist, you should be ashamed for leaving out the most important word of that sentence. Until such time as a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law, the person is in fact ‘alleged’ to have committed a crime and is innocent until proven guilty.

  • Bee Dubya

    Libel case here people…… Swarm lawyers!

  • Buck Buckerson

    Yep. You’re spreading the lies. Emma wasn’t raped. Recent revelations make it pretty evident that she was a lying, attention-seeker.

  • Nana

    This is an article about consent and these people are focusing solely on the rape case mentioned at the end.. All of these people on the comment sections are downright terrifying.. absolutely scary to read that such insensitive comments are easily spewed. Despite their attempts to prove, in a comment section, to claim Emma was lying she is still suffering a lot from what they call ‘attention seeking’. I hope they are merely parroting phrases that they read everyday from their little circle.