By now you’ve probably seen this .gif all over Tumblr: What appears to be an unretouched photo of Jennifer Lawrence compared to a Photoshopped version that makes her look scary-skinny. Upon viewing this endless loop of unreality, you’re filled with righteous indignation that some publication should deem it acceptable to shave this curvy, gorgeous, talented star into yet another stick-thin Hollywood actress.
The white-hot rage is coursing through your body now; your trembling finger hovers over the “reblog” button on Tumblr so you can make sure everyone knows how utterly wrong this is.
And that’s exactly what the internet wants you to do.
See, the controversy around this alleged Photoshopped image is all fabricated. Let’s start at the beginning. My first encounter with this .gif was on a BuzzFeed post this morning. The BuzzFeed writer went to great pains to clarify that the original image appeared in GQ last May; the second image appeared on Tumblr later and was neither created nor endorsed by GQ in any way.
It seems that we can trace the .gif back to Tumblr user day47, who posted it six months ago and has amassed over 47,000 notes—mostly folks defending Jen’s strong arms and curvy hips. Arguments over her body have existed since she was cast in The Hunger Games last year: Critics said she wasn’t realistically emaciated enough. The hot-button topic has brought issues of sexism to the forefront — because it’s been male journalists going after Jen’s body — and is so tense that we can’t even joke about how closed-minded those people are.
So, from the original Tumblr I tracked the .gif to Hurricane Vanessa, who gave me a major clue from her caption on the .gif:
The original which was not that heavily ‘Shopped appeared in GQ last year. The retouched version was part of an unofficial online eating disorder awareness campaign and appeared later.
As you’ll remember, the day47 version has an extra frame that says “EATING DISORDER AWARENESS.” What’s interesting is that’s all it takes—even though there’s no explanation about where the alleged Photoshop appeared, people assume that someone in the media altered the original photo, but now we’ve pulled one over on them by obtaining both pics. Look how smart we are! Look how we won’t bend to societal pressures! Etcetera, etcetera.
Part of why Jennifer has such a dedicated, affectionate Tumblr following is because she’s been cast as this very real actress. The majority of .gifs are here making funny faces for the camera and being gorgeous but also awkward and silly. Naturally, her body has been dragged into that same image, of someone who’s not the typical Hollywood type. Reactions to this alleged Photoshop crime have ranged from people sneering at how awful the skinnier Jen looks to people decrying the press to naturally skinny people pointing out that it doesn’t help to mock the thin either.
Tumblr user asingularity figured out that this was all fake controversy two months ago, but of course that post got buried. It took me twenty minutes of searching through Google and Tumblr to find it. It’s really unfortunate that online users think the only way to get people’s attention is through the spectacle of a radical Photoshop. Why not just show us one of the thousands of photos of Jen looking gorgeous and happy?
You’ve been hoodwinked into caring about a legitimate cause — eating disorders — through dishonest means. Let’s share that around instead of a .gif with the wrong context.
.gif: day47 on Tumblr / original photo: GQ