Last week, Kerry Washington took to Instagram to express her disappointment in the most recent airbrushing scandal of her career. Like many actresses in Hollywood, her features were altered to the point that some said she looked nothing like herself. Someone commented that she looked more like Scarlett Johansson. But the real problem wasn’t the contouring, the highlighting, or the airbrushing on the pages of AdWeek, it was the seeming lightening of her skin.
So…You know me. I’m not one to be quiet about a magazine cover. I always celebrate it when a respected publication invites me to grace their pages. It’s an honor. And a privilege. And ADWEEK is no exception. I love ADWEEK. It’s a publication I appreciate. And learn from. I’ve long followed them on Twitter. And when they invited me to do a cover, I was excited and thrilled. And the truth is, I’m still excited. I’m proud of the article. And I like some of the inside images a great deal. But, I have to be honest…I was taken aback by the cover. Look, I’m no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters – who doesn’t love a filter?!? And I don’t always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it’s a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling. That being said. You all have been very kind and supportive. Also, as I’ve said, I’m very proud of the article. There are a few things we discussed in the interview that were left out. Things that are important to me (like: the importance of strong professional support and my awesome professional team) and I’ve been thinking about how to discuss those things with anyone who is interested, in an alternate forum. But until then…Grab this week’s ADWEEK. Read it. I hope you enjoy it. And thank you for being patient with me while I figured out how to post this in a way that felt both celebratory and honest. XOXOXOX
Washington is more than a beautiful woman. She is a beautiful black woman, a role model, and an inspiration to millions of other black women. At a time when the media is constantly talking about the browning of America, it is unacceptable to see mainstream magazines, photos, and billboards still whitening models. This sends the message that a lighter complexion is still better.
In fact, this has happened to Washington before. Last year, after appearing on the cover of InStyle, she addressed fan concerns about her skin being lightened in a tweet saying discussions about race perception are “an important [conversation] to be had.” Instead of complaining about the changes, she noted that it was disappointing, but an opportunity to talk about race in America.
Her recent commentary on Instagram should be applauded. Not only did she thank the magazine for the opportunity and platform, but she gracefully handled the situation by expressing her frustration with alterations as a whole. She even noted the quality content of the print interview and a couple of photos inside the spread.
Washington could have said “shame on you” to AdWeek, or spurned them viciously, but she didn’t. She expanded upon her statement in an interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sessions by saying, “I was very taken aback and very uncomfortable about looking at an image that I did not recognize as myself. I felt like, in a way, that is not okay with me because that echoes that little girl that thought I wasn’t enough. And I know that I am enough, so don’t make me feel like I’m not enough by changing me to fit some idea of what you think I’m supposed to look like.”
I think she is perfect just the way she is.