Ethics in Fashion Media

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Photo from W Magazine

This month’s issue of W Magazine has stirred up quite a controversy over the Photoshopping done to its cover models. Kiernan Shipka, Zendaya and Willow Smith are featured on the cover to celebrate the young stars’ success in Hollywood. The problem arises in the Photoshopping of their skin colors. While Shipka has naturally fair skin, both Zendaya and Smith have darker complexions. The effects done to the coloring of the cover photo noticeably wash out the two young women of color.


Over the past few years the public has called out magazines more and more for excessive Photoshopping. Many instances involve slimming and distorting of models to unrealistic proportions. While magazines may have improved on offering slightly more natural body shapes on their glossy pages, the white washing of skin tones on this cover is still a major issue.

I understand magazines use Photoshop to create unique and amazing images. In the case that using a specific effect alters a models true skin tone however, I believe is past the line of an acceptable use of Photoshop. Magazines have slowly offered more diversity, as shown on the W Magazine cover, but this whitewashing defeats the purpose of having two strong women of color featured.

If I were making the image decisions at a magazine I would allow Photoshop so long as the models are shown in their own skin, both in body shape and complexion.

Check out this Buzzfeed article which shows the work of Jumah Eid who re-edited the cover based on the skin tones of the two young women found in unedited photos of them.


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