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For Shame: Wired Goes Glam and Photoshops a Lady Scientist Beyond Recognition For Shame: Wired Goes Glam and Photoshops a Lady Scientist Beyond Recognition

For Shame: Wired Goes Glam and Photoshops a Lady Scientist Beyond Recognition

by Cord Jefferson

March 20, 2011


The ladies at the website Jezebel frequently make it their business to point out absurd Photoshop incidents in fashion magazines, and rightfully so. As former Jezebel editor Anna Holmes put it, "Magazine-retouching may not be a lie on par with, you know, 'Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,' but in a world where girls as young as eight are going on the South Beach Diet, teenagers are getting breast implants as graduation gifts ... it's fucking wrong."

And it is fucking wrong. However, it makes at least a little bit of sense when the women being Photoshopped are musicians and actresses, professions that, like it or not, often require their members to possess otherworldly features. Where Photoshopping makes no sense at all, not even a little, is in the world of science.

Enter the April 2011 issue of Wired magazine, pictured above. Considering the cover story, the "DIY Revolution," it made sense that Wired's staff would reach out to Limor Fried to star. Fried, aka ladyada, has her masters in electrical engineering from MIT and has made a name for herself throughout the science community with projects designed to "help people defend their personal space from unwanted electrical intrusion." Fried is the purveyor of a very successful open-source electronics line called Adafruit Industries, and she says she wants to meld art and electrical engineering. Also, outside of electronics, she says her current interests include holistic engineering, bicycle design, fashion, and glassblowing. In a word, Fried is brilliant. Not only that, she's brilliant enough to be the first female engineer on the cover of Wired. Too bad the folks at Wired didn't get that memo, though.

Wired didn't put Limor Fried on their new cover. What Fried actually looks like is below—she's a normal young woman with a lip ring and an abnormally strong brain, and that's worked wonders for her her entire life. What Wired put on its cover is an almost cartoonish Photoshop that caused one friend to look at these photos next to each other and ask, "That's the same woman?"

In Wired's "About" section, the magazine claims to be "the first word on how ideas and innovation are changing the world." If that's true, if Wired exalts smarts and innovation enough to be considered the ultimate destination for people interested in those things, where does it get off treating a smart, innovative scientist like she's shooting a Britney Spears album cover?

Congrats to Fried for getting the kind of recognition she deserves. And, if she ever does a piece with GOOD, we promise: No airbrushing.

Update: Fried responded in our comments section:

You found a 3+ year old photo of me in Japan, after a 20 hour flight and short hair. 

The cover is stylized but that is really what I looked like. I was not 'plasticized' or 'heavily photoshopped'. if I take off my glasses, have my hair done, and wear make-up its what I look like. Jill uses lighting and makeup to create a glossy look, we saw the shots right off the camera and the only things that changed are the background color and the tool. Its her style and it looks cool!  

Its a bit different than my every day look, especially when shot with a proper camera and lighting, but it -is- me. I do get dressed up from time to time, being a magazine cover is one of those times! :)  

My lip ring wasn't in for most of this year so far, WIRED didn't remove it or airbrush it. I wasn't wearing it, just like I wasn't wearing my glasses.

If I'm happy with this and I say it's looks like me isn't that GOOD :)

science media culture education wired limor fried photoshopping misogyny jezebel
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