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Singer-actress Zendaya ‘shocked’ over retouched photos, challenges unrealistic beauty standards

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(Oct. 22, 2015) — A photo shoot with singer-actress Zendaya for a fashion magazine has become yet another flashpoint in the debate over whether retouched photos create unrealistic perceptions of beauty.

In an Instagram post, the 19-year-old said Tuesday that she was “shocked” to discover her hips and torso had been slimmed in photos taken for the November issue of Modeliste.

“These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have,” said Zendaya, who posted the before-and-after photos side by side. “Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love. So I took it upon myself to release the real pic.”

Her post had more than 665,000 likes by Thursday afternoon.

In response, the magazine took a swift and unusual step. In a letter posted online Thursday, Editor-in-Chief Amy McCabe said she was pulling the magazine to “have the images restored to their original, natural state.”

“Upon review of the final edited images which had been submitted to us by an independent editing company, together, as a collaboration between myself, Zendaya and her parents, we concluded that the images had been retouched to an extent that was not acceptable and not true to the values and ideals we represent and promote in our publication,” McCabe wrote.

On its website, the magazine promises that an “unedited edit” of the Zendaya cover shoot is coming soon.

The episode is the latest in a series of mini-controversies involving images of mostly female models that have been retouched to remove blemishes or enhance body parts. In February, a leaked photo of 48-year-old Cindy Crawford in lingerie for Marie Claire drew praise for showing her in a realistic light.

But retouching images of models and celebrities through such tools as Adobe Photoshop remains a common practice in magazines and on the Internet.

Perhaps as a result, kids as young as age 5 are starting to develop concerns about body image, according to a report this year from the child advocacy group Common Sense Media.

Zendaya stars in the popular Disney Channel show “K.C. Undercover” and released a self-titled album in 2013. She came to fame as the youngest-ever contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” that same year.