Adele’s Vogue Magazine Cover Causing Controversy

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Airbrushing? Photoshop? Fans are speaking out about the latest image of Adele on the cover of Vogue.

“It looks like she’s been enhanced,” Anjulie Mittleman of Medford said.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing,” said Marion Martin.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports

“I definitely think she has been a little bit Photoshopped. It doesn’t look like she looked at the Grammy’s… if you want to be a little curvy she should be able to do that and not be scrutinized,” said Anna Shanley of Medford.

People are writing in to Vogue Magazine as well.

“Thanks for this excellent interview, the best one I’ve read so far, that depicts her not only as a singer but as a person.  However, the Cover photo is the opposite contrary, that’s the worst picture of Adele I’ve seen. Frankly, I can’t seem relate to it and I just hope that it hasn’t been much photoshopped. Adele is a larger than life personality and this just doesn’t do her justice,” one reader wrote online.

Anne Becker, an expert in the media and body image at Harvard Medical School, says this controversy can be an opportunity for parents to talk with their children.

“It forces the conversation between parents and kids about what images are real what are realistic, what are attainable,” said Becker, who is a Professor of Health and Global Medicine.

She says kids are influenced by the images in the media, as well as by the friends their friends see.

“What is concerning about images that are altered is that it sets unrealistic expectations for girls and young women. If they are not yet sophisticated media consumers, there may be some dissonance between what they feel they can live up to, and what they can actually attain or what’s actually healthy to attain,” said Becker.

Becker says that can lead to negative feelings and dissatisfaction with their bodies.

We have reached out to both Adele and Vogue for comments.  So far, they have not responded.

Though, Adele did address her image during an interview with Anderson Cooper Sunday on 60 Minutes.

“I’ve never seen magazine covers and music videos and been like, I need to look like that if I want to be a success. Never,” Adele said Sunday. “I don’t want to be some Skinny Minnie… I don’t want people confusing what it is I’m about.”

  • Sharon Graves

    This girl has a beautiful oval face. I think your viewers are a little naive as far as what can be done with photography. I modeled for 40 years so I know a little about this. The correct contouring with make-up, and angles and lighting with photography make a huge difference. They use only the very best photographers, stylists, make-up artists and lighting directors at Vogue. They can make anyone look incredible! Now take a gorgeous woman like Adele and you’ve got a winner!

    • Stephanie

      Not photoshopped at ALL…adele usually has cloth that cover her cleavage, she doesnt show much skin at ALL like other artist…of course it’s a surprise to people that now you can see her chest! Just look at the difference between the grammy and the vogue picture. Very good contouring of the face can definitely make a huge difference…people need to be up to date with what make up can do to you!

    • Joe

      wish I had read yours…. You had already made some of my points. :)

    • jj

      …as for chest enhancement…I reckon she’s got plenty enough for those puppies to be hers with the right type of bra…

  • Joe

    OMG! THEY PHOTOSHOPPED The ADELE PHOTO ON THE COVER OF VOUGUE MAGAZINE! Yeah NO KIDDING!… Magazines Photoshop EVERY IMAGE that prints. EVERY IMAGE. You really think the models in your little hometown store have flawless skin and amazing skin tone and perfectly white teeth????? C’mon Morons. Don’t forget the magic of MAkeup and Lighting and “perfect angles as well (Paint the jawline, stretch the neck during the photoshoot, dark shadow lighting on the double chin, you get the picture). This IS VOGUE magazine. they probably have 10 or 12 HOURS of photoshopping on that image ALONE. It’s the COVER! Don’t be outraged, or surprised, this is not a new thing…… Accept it for what it is. VOGUE magazine. VOGUE. not “Plain JAne as she looks when she wakes up” magazine. VOGUE. SOrry. this was on the news and the story was ree-donk-yu-luss. They do the same stuff with Drew Barrymore, whoever

    • Christine

      ^^ Joe, you should try to review your typing before you post. Because everything you’re saying is right on the money, but it’s lost in all of those caps and unnecessary punctuation.

      But he’s absolutely right. There is no picture of any advertisement that hasn’t been gone over 20-30+ times by multiple people with photoshop. They whittle women down to nothing, exaggerate their proportion, sometimes even compile multiple different models to make one image.

      I think people are missing an opportunity here. They’re making this issue about Adele, when it should be about women’s health and these types of practices.

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  • katie

    Um it’s called makeup!! I’m a makeup artist and her face I don’t think has been photoshopped at all. People saying well her photo on the cover doesn’t look like she did at the grammy’s. Well unless you are blind then you can see that her makeup is completely different and that can change a person’s whole look. For the cover, they just used a lot of bronzer which is used for contouring and sculpting a person’s face and that’s exactly what they did. That’s why her face looks a little different. Good god people complain so much without knowing anything. She looks amazing!

    • rachel

      It’s not about her FACE, katie – it’s about her BODY. Adele is a plus-sized woman, and she’s never been ashamed of that (nor should she be). She is beautiful! Vogue took a beautiful woman, put her in a corset, then photoshopped her body to death to create a more “socially acceptable” hourglass figure. And you wanna know why that’s more “socially acceptable”? Because it’s been forced down society’s throats for decades! Adele just isn’t as skinny as Vogue made her look. And since Adele herself has said she doesn’t care about conforming to some social standard regarding physical beauty, Vogue shouldn’t have manipulated her image in that way.

  • bruce

    I think the editors at Vogue added in the cleavage and changed aspects of Adele’s face. It’s absolutely disgusting that they did this. It goes completely against what Adele stands for.

    Vogue is a disgusting, creepy magazine that is anti-woman. It changes a woman’s appearance to suit the advertisers.

  • bruce


    Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because Vogue has photo-shopped before, it doesn’t mean that photo-shopping is right.

    Vogue is clearly a creepy magazine that changes women’s appearance for very sleazy reasons. Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, should be ashamed of herself. She’s disgusting.

  • Deb

    The moment I saw the cover, I knew that her face was def. changed. Just saw her on 60 minutes and the Grammy’s, and that is not what she looks like at all. “they” just refuse to accept anyone as they are. Make-up is one thing, completely changing the contours of someone’s face, the size of their chest and waist is totally diff. I am sure that she is not overly happy about this. Another reason to no longer buy magazines, so full of crap.

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  • Elena

    I’ve seen the photos and love them completely! They’re meant to be high fashion. I don’t think she was photoshopped but I do believe they used lots of dark colors to blend in curves and make her look smaller. They used specific camera angle to make her face appear thinner. Her beauty is amazing and although the photos are not her every day appearance they were not intended to be. These pictures are amazing works of art, as is her beauty in and out. Children are not picking up Vogue magazine to read and most adults are not either. I’m not worried or alarmed that any inappropriate ideas are being displayed by a high fashion spread.

    • rachel

      You simply cannot make a size 18 or size 20 woman look like a size 8 without photoshopping, Elena – – Man doesn’t make corsets that strong! This woman was photoshopped, just like Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson (though it was less noticable for them, since the net difference in size was less). I understand that Vogue is “high fashion,” but they obviously found some “high fashion” clothes for Adele to wear at the shoot – otherwise she would have been naked. Why not showcase her REAL body in REAL clothes, rather than change her curves so drastically? Adele is proud of her curves – Vogue should have been proud to showcase them.

      • Jennifer

        Adele is more like a size 14 or 16.

      • Elena

        Adele did this knowing that the photos would be doctored. The photos are beautiful and yes without a doubt they do not show her REAL self BUT she knew this. Even the thinnest of women are doctored in vogue. Its just now a shock.

      • rachel

        The question isn’t whether she knew the photos would be doctored, Elena – the question is whether she knew to what extent they’d be doctored. She didn’t get final edit. That’s the problem.

  • Cat

    I think I can say for certain that all those who say there was no Photoshop here still believe in Santa Claus :)

  • Wanda

    I would say the question is, photoshop notwithstanding, “does Adele really look like this cover under any condition except extreme lighting, makeup, and pushup bra?” The next question, assuming one agrees that she does not, is it right to alter a person’s looks so dramatically for fashion sake. Sure, Vogue is a fashion magazine, but if this photo is a fake, then what does that say about anything else Vogue promotes?

  • DoverDavid

    I think this is interesting. Just the other day I was on this site, replying to another forum and was looking at the page in general. On the right, was a clip from WBZ, showing Jack Williams and Lisa Hughes. The picture of Jack was either him from years ago, or had been doctored, because the Jack I see on tv at night, is not the same as the one pictured on this very site. Just thought it funny.

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  • Bob Sanders

    dear fans….every magazine in the world uses photoshop on their images. Have you ever been to a car lot and the cars were dirty,dented,and dull looking…same things with the magazine industry. please get over yourselves.

    • rachel

      Bob, it’s not simply a matter of photoshopping – it’s the EXTENT to which the image is photoshopped. Cleaning up wrinkles, straightening up messy hair – yeah, we get that. But taking a curvy woman and making her look waif-like is going too far, particularly in a society that is combating such severe self-image issues in our youth because of these drastically enhanced images.

  • Ashley

    How come I don’t hear people complaining about other stars that do photoshop pictures? Why is Adele the only name in news that is getting blamed for for being photoshopped? And how do you even know what a photoshopped picture looks like? Are we all that vain to admit that maybe Adele actually looked like that? She isn’t a monster, you know, a gargantuan monster. She is a human being. And the thing is, people can’t stand others looking better than they do, in their mind of course.

    EVERYONE is beautiful. GET OVER IT.

    • rachel

      Where have you been? Under a rock? People have been complaining about Vogue’s abuse of photoshopping for a long time, regarding a lot of images – not just Adele. Seriously. Google it! Then get over yourself.

  • ITZA

    What do you expect, it’s vogue? I mean, nothing wrong with Vogue, but their covers are some of the most photoshopped covers. And Anna Wintour, the editor, she’s crazy about image. I saw the documentary “The September Issue” that was about Vogue and it’s largest, most popular release of the year and she had at least ten versions of the front cover all Photoshopped in one way or another and she just didn’t like it. Vogue isn’t one to appreciate beauty for what it is, but beauty as they decide it is. And if that means severely changing Adele’s face and figure then that’s what they will do. And I find that disgusting.

  • Mike

    This is ridiculous.

    Adele is overweight as this term is defined; her BMI is obviously over 25. You can use as many euphemisms you want (Real Woman, Curvy, not a Skinny Minnie, etc.) but that doesn’t change the simple scientific truth that she is overweight and therefore both less healthy and less attractive (again, scientific truth, since we are biologically programmed to be less attracted to people that appear less healthy.)

    Vogue is a magazine about fashion and appearance is clearly important. Whether via creative angles, lighting, Photoshop or other means, they simply want to make her look as healthy and therefore as attractive as possible.

    I am very fit, run 20 miles a week, only eat whole grains and lean meat and seafood and work hard to maintain my appearance. I should also add that I (along with my fit friends) are equally not attracted to women that are too skinny, including some models, as they look just as unhealthy as someone who is too heavy.

    So what exactly is the wrong message this is sending to women? That taking care of one’s health and appearance is bad? Putting oneself at risk for diabetes is fine?

    I could sit around in my spare time, eat fast food and have processed snacks all day and know that I would both feel and look quite different. Maybe this is actually sending the right message: to look good, you should look as healthy as possible and maintaining your weight is a very big part of that.

    • Susannah

      I would like to point out that Adele’s BMI isn’t obviously over 25. It probably was before she was as popular, but she has clearly been losing weight and doesn’t really have that much extra weight on her anymore. I would say that her size is more likely a 12 not an 18 or whatiever these people said. If you are health and weight concious, you should take a look at her older videos and you’ll see that apparently she is working on those things. This picture is not an unrealistic depiction of her. It is just one with makeup, flattering clothes and light. I don’t think she’s had any more photoshopping than anyone else. She’s probably had a lot less, since she’s only 23.

    • Leigh

      Mike, what do you want, an award? You may be fit, but you sound like a complete downer and someone who would be a real drag to be around. You are the complete opposite extreme – a man who many women wouldn’t want to be with because he is too vain and self absorbed. Staying healthy is good, but being obsessed is not. Lighten up.

      • ruby tuesday

        Hey Mike
        My husband’s grandmother drank beer and ate kielbasa almost everyday, she was about 20-30 pounds overweight most of her adult life, never exercised yet she lived to a very healthy 101. It’s all about genetics baby.

      • Mike

        Ruby Tuesday,

        It think you missed my point. I was explaining that diet and exercise affect quality of life.

        While genetics may help someone live longer, they won’t help an overweight person struggle while climbing a flight of stairs. Modern medicine plays a huge part too; diabetes maintenance can keep an overweight person alive for decades while they constantly inject themselves and take blood samples.

        I also have to circle back to my original point about looking healthy and looking attractive being intertwined and directly affecting one’s quality of life. If Adele was not overweight, this controversy would never exist in the first place.

        It is an absolutely proven fact that overweight people are paid less, promoted less, commented about more and are far more likely to end up with less attractive partners.

        Adele may live to 102, but she will still be ‘that fat British singer’ while Jennifer Hudson, who clearly got her weight under control, now elicits a COMPLETELY different reaction.

      • Mike

        Really? I am a downer because I work at maintaining my appearance? Not only are my friends constantly asking me to go out, but I also have my own business with 32 clients and do quite well. These clients are always inviting me to events and parties; I often get the invitations on days I am not even working at these places.

        I am proud of how I look and many women consider me to be a great catch, since I do well, am intelligent, articulate and very kind and generous with everyone I know.

        Having said that, anyone who knows me will also say that I tell it like it is. I will call a spade a spade and that is the reason I posted in the first place.

    • CK

      I think Mike is a moron. You are self-absorbed and close minded. Who cares how fit you are. Your perception that people who might carry extra weight are sitting around eating processed foods all day is just asinine. You have no idea Adele’s eating or exercise regimen. She might be perfectly healthy, i.e. : low blood pressure, low cholesterol, balanced blood sugar, etc. GENETICS do play roles in weight. BMI numbers are only a guideline. Not every person fits in that box. I don’t know if Adele was photo-shopped or not, but I can assure you she looks extremely desirable and gorgeous to every person (male and female) I know. You could only be lucky to have a woman that talented and gorgeous.

      • Mike

        First of all, I have only dated very attractive (by the standard definition of the word) women, many of whom are also exceptionally accomplished in their fields, working in positions as diverse as VPs of banks and acclaimed artists.

        I’m not sure who the people you know are that consider her ‘gorgeous’ but the entire controversy is over making her look more attractive and less ‘real’. If she was universally perceived as being ‘gorgeous’ why would there be any issue with this magazine cover in the first place?

        I never said or implied that Adele is not talented. However, I have to dispute her being ‘gorgeous’ as society and our genetic programming defines attractiveness and would therefore not have any interest in being with her.

        While on the topic of genetics, you mention that they play a roles in one’s weight. While this is true, it is not a very significant one. Do you not find it odd that even though our genes have not changed in tens of thousands of years, the rate of obese and extremely obese American adults has gone from 14.3% to 40.3% between 1960 and 2008.

        You must be a ‘moron’ to blame ‘GENETICS’ when the only things that have changed over those 48 years were diet and physical activity.

  • Erix

    It has nothing to do with whether or not she is “too fat” or whatever. The point is, she has gotten this far because of her talent. She is a true role model… But the magazine is trying to sell her based on image. And she’s never been about that. Of course it isn’t healthy to be overweight. But that doesn’t make this magazine cover any less insulting.

  • Jeff

    DUH, it’s the cover of Vogue. Also, probably every other publicized photo you have seen of her or anyone has been touched up/air brushed/edited.

    • Anka

      I agree! This isn’t a photo you would see on someone’s living room wall and if you did you’d automatically think… Ok, it’s a piece of artwork altered by a great photo software. That’s basically what this is…. A cover of a magazine that’s been photoshoped. We all know she doesn’t look like this is real life. It’s like any other cover of a someone hanging out with a lion. Obviously in real life you would not see that happen but it’s for a cover shot, it’s art…. I don’t think the issue here is altering the cover the issue is of people being able to distinguish what’s real and what’s not.

  • Terri

    Americans always have to have something to be “outraged” about. Is there no way for us to go 24 hours without a bunch of yahoos responding to yet another media-manufactured “controversy”??

    It’s a magazine cover, fer cryin’ out loud. Lighten up.

  • rachelshappy

    Why is this coming up now? Every magazine photoshops every picture. They photoshop everyone. Its just how it is. They want to make people look good. The only bad thing about it, is that they get rid of every “imperfection”. If they really want to do a story on airbrushing, they should look at high school pictures. My senior picture was airbrushed with out permission and so was everyone else’s. I hate how I look. Think about how airbrushing simple high school pictures makes kids self conscious.

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  • Sue M

    Does it even matter? Oh well, people need something to argue about.

    Things CLOSEST to you appear LARGER. They have her positioned in such a way that she is sideways, with her shoulders twisted and her chest pushed forward, with her head back, not to mention that smocked, scoop-necked top. With all that I dont think they enhanced her bust size. I have no doubt that they airbrushed her face, as they would with anyone.

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