Magazine Article of the Year

The year isn’t half over, but this brilliant profile — by Lauren Collins in The New Yorker, about a photo-retoucher you’ve never heard of — gets my vote.

I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual “real women” in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he [Dangin] asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”

6 Replies to “Magazine Article of the Year”

  1. I assume you’ve noticed by now that the quotation you included in your post turned out to be inaccurate — Dangin didn’t work on Dove’s “Real Women” campaign featuring “lumpier-than-usual women in their undergarments” that the journalist appears to mention, and wasn’t talking about that one either. Instead, he worked on the “Pro-Age” photos by Anne Leibovitz, which featured older (50+), mostly thin, and *naked* women. And according to both Dangin and Leibovitz, he did dust removal and color correction, not heavy retouching.

    (Not sure if they ever used those photos in the US; too much skin, I guess…)

    (And yes, the New Yorker has confirmed this, even if their arrogance forbids them to actually admit that they didn’t bother to fact-check their own article, and instead claims that one inaccurate word (“undergarments”) in a 6,308 word article isn’t that bad.)

  2. Observer, no I hadn’t noticed this. Thanks for pointing it out. My take is that Collins accurately reported what Dangin unwisely (but accurately) said. I’ll believe Dove, Dangin, and Leibowitz when they release the originals . . . which they haven’t. Rather than say the quotation “turned out to be inaccurate” I’d say it turned out to be embarrassing.

  3. But now you’re doing the same thing as the journalist: mixing up two campaigns, and using Dangin’s comments about one of them to attack the people behind the other. Again, Leibowitz/Dangin didn’t do the “Real Women” campaign with lumpy women in underwear that you’re both referring to; that was a different photographer (Ian Rankin). Leibowitz/Dangin worked on a *different* campaign (and a campaign that probably wasn’t used much in the US, since it featured *nude* women. Have you seen that one? You would remember it if you had…)

    I mean, if a journalist were to ask McCain what he meant by something that Obama said, and then accuse McCain of hiding something when he denied saying that, surely everyone would think that the journalist was a complete tool (especially if the defense was “yeah, whatever, I say so many words, surely you cannot expect me to get them all right?”). So why does the journalist get a free pass in this case? Because it’s a well-written article and everyone knows that companies lie all the time, so who cares about the details? I’m not sure I get this.

  4. The New Yorker shouldn’t have said “undergarments” because that was a different campaign, yes. I fail to see how that makes the quotation less interesting — it is merely about a slightly different campaign — although I do see that the mistake makes it easier for Leibovitz and others to be indignant. Here is Leibovitz: “He is primarily a printer — and only does retouching when asked to.” Right. “When asked to.” Please. Here is Dangin correcting the record: “I only worked on the Dove ProAge campaign taken by Annie Leibovitz and was directed only to remove dust and do colour correction — both the integrity of the photographs and the women’s natural beauty were maintained.” Of course. Whatever “integrity” and “natural beauty” mean. Not exactly a statement that he was misquoted.
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