Responding to a Photoshop fail, Kerry Washington embraces nuance and conflict.

Let's reclaim the right to feel conflicted.

We can all agree that Kerry Washington is gorgeous, right?

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

And we can all agree that sometimes magazines go a little (a lot) overboard when it comes to Photoshop, right?

For example, here's an issue of InStyle that had people up in arms over the apparent lightening of Washington's skin:


Well, it happened again: another Photoshop fail featuring Kerry Washington — but there's a twist.

Washington posted a picture of this week's AdWeek, featuring her on the cover, along with a really thoughtful note. It was honest, it was vulnerable, and it was filled with conflict.

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It was human.

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"I just felt weary," she wrote. "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." 

"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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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That being said. You all have been very kind and supportive. Also, as I've said, I'm very proud of the article. 

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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. 

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XOXOXOX"

What's notable about Washington's response, though, is its nuance. She's neither slamming the magazine nor praising it.

It's that nuance that's sometimes missing in our own lives. Just as there's often the debate of how we consume problematic media (or whether it's OK to consume at all), the Internet has created an atmosphere where the loudest and most polarizing voices on any end of a spectrum will be the only ones heard — this is true in politics, media, sports, video games, and just about anything else you can think of.

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Washington reminds us here that life is often so much more complicated than that. Was she disappointed in how the AdWeek cover turned out? Absolutely. Did she feel some things were missing from the interview she gave? Definitely. But did she "slam" AdWeek? Hardly. In fact, she still encourages her fans to go out and buy the issue, Photoshop fail and all.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

What Washington's doing here goes so much further than a reaction one way or the other: She's reclaiming the right to say she doesn't know how she feels about something.

"Thank you for being patient with me while I figured out how to post this in a way that felt both celebratory and honest," she writes at the end of her note.

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Celebratory and honest. Critical and supportive. Frustrated and proud.

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These are valid, complicated human feelings, and Kerry Washington is pretty amazing for showing the world that side of her.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

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