I’m not really familiar with the work of Gigi Hadid. I know she’s a model and I know she’s going out with the soulful one from One Direction – and that is all I know.
But, little as I know about Gigi Hadid and her pal Kendall Jenner, I am reasonably sure that they both have knees. And by “reasonably sure”, I mean I would be willing to bet my entire next month’s salary on that gamble. Between them, there are at least four separate kneecaps, right?
According to the below photographs of the W magazine cover, I now can’t make rent for November. Because there is – count ’em – one knee in this photo.
Let’s start with Gigi’s leg, which has the length and structure of a pool noodle. As those of us with knees know, it’s customary for them to be visible when your leg is exposed. While her left leg is crossed over her right one, both legs seem to be made from Barbie rubber.
Honestly, I’m not sure how Gigi is even standing.
Then there’s Kendall’s leg. Kendall has one malformed Barbie leg and one normal leg. Can you see it? It’s a renegade, sent from the past to show W magazine what a knee is. It’s so startlingly normal next to the Barbie leg that it gives the appearance that Kendall’s left leg is twice the rest of her body weight.
Everyone knows magazines use Photoshop. It’s not a mystery – any woman smart enough to buy a magazine knows that it is an elaborate fiction of thick lashes, perfect skin and sparkly eyes. In her book, Bossypants, Tina Fey talks about her experience on a photoshoot for a feminist magazine.
“Feminists do the best Photoshop because they leave the meat on your bones,” Fey writes. “They leave in your disgusting knuckles, but they may take out some armpit stubble. Not because they’re denying its existence, but because they understand that it’s OK to take a photo look as if you were caught on your best day in the best light.”
I’m with Fey on this one. If I were ever on the cover of a magazine, I’d be hovering over the monitor at the photoshoot, asking if my crooked front teeth could be straightened out just a little. But, ultimately, I’d still want my body to resemble one that belongs to an actual human being. I would want knees. And elbows. And for my left leg to look roughly symmetrical to my right leg.
No young girl is going to look at the cover of W magazine and think she now must save up for knee-removal surgery. What I’m hoping for – really, genuinely hoping for – is that, somewhere, a mother is at a newsstand with her daughter and pointing at Gigi Hadid’s legs. “See?” she says. “See how silly it all is? She doesn’t even have knees!”
And I hope her daughter laughs and I hope beautiful images of female bodies flex their power over her a little less of the time. Because maybe Bad Photoshop – the kind of spectacularly bad Photoshop we can so clearly see here – is what will save us from perfection. Maybe making fun of a weird non-knee is better than focusing on the hundreds of airbrushed, perfectly toned knees on every other page. Maybe Bad Photoshop is exactly what we’ve been waiting for.