Some celebrities manage to get editorial control over the pictures they’re taking that will be used as magazine covers, others are at the mercy of editors and more often than not of photo editors. The worst celebrity magazine covers aren’t just about Photoshop fails. Airbrushing is almost as old as photography, but sometimes it gets out of hand and the people in charge simply don’t step back and see the big picture.
From less than flattering pictures to images charged with unwanted subtext, here are some of the worst celebrity magazine covers.
Sarah Jessica Parker on Harper’s Bazaar China
There are Photoshop fails and then there’s this... The March 2013 cover of Harper’s Bazaar China featured an unrecognizable Sarah Jessica Parker. Definitely one of the worst celebrity magazine covers, it perfectly highlights the dangers of excessive retouching: it looks more like a drawing than a photo.
Janet Jackson on W
In October 2006, Janet Jackson was releasing her last album for Virgin Records, but her W Magazine cover was less than worthy of a pop star of her stature. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, from the excessive makeup to her unflattering outfit and the awkward pose. The heavy makeup aged Janet and the cover was anything but attractive.
Nicole Kidman on V
Photographer by Mario Testino, Nicole Kidman showed off her booty on the cover of V Magazine in September 2012. The 45 year old actress certainly has the body to pull it off, but the cover came off as desperate. The blond wig didn’t help and the pose isn’t working since Nicole rarely managed to pull off the vamp vibe even on screen, making this one of the worst celebrity magazine covers.
Drew Barrymore on InStyle
At first glance, Drew Barrymore looks great on the cover of InStyle, the February 2012 issue. There’s only one problem, a glaring Photoshop fail that didn’t go unnoticed. The actress is literally missing her left hip. There’s no excuse for overzealous airbrushing in this case, not even the need to add in more text on the cover.
Melissa McCarthy on Elle
“Jacketgate” turned in to a big scandal for Elle Magazine when they over-styled Melissa McCarthy on the October 2013 “Women in Hollywood” issue. With big hair and a trench coat that covers the actress’ entire body, the cover proved a PR disaster. Elle did put a plus sized woman on the cover, but the general consensus was that her body was hidden as much as possible, resulting in one of the worst celebrity magazine covers.
Jennifer Lopez on People
Beautiful and talented, Jennifer Lopez rarely looks bad on a magazine cover, but People managed to hit all the bullets on the list for a bad cover. This January 2013 People cover featured an awkward pose, too much airbrushing and a general lack of attractiveness for the overall cover.
Demi Moore on W
Another hip-related Photoshop scandal, Demi Moore’s appearance on the cover of W Magazine in December 2009 is still considered one of the worst celebrity magazine covers. The actress’ hip seems narrower than her thigh. Demi tried to prove it wasn’t caused by too much airbrushing by tweeting the original image, but the effect is still jarring, even if it’s just an awkward pose.
Kristen Stewart on Glamour
Who’s got piercing green eyes and two forearms? Not Kristen Stewart. The young actress appeared on the cover of Glamour Magazine in November 2011 in an awkward pose, with airbrushing that left her missing an entire forearm.
LeBron James and Gisele Bündchen on Vogue
Lately, Vogue Magazine has been getting back to the gold standard of magazine covers, but for a while in the late ‘00s, the fashion bible seemed to be struggling. The April 2008 cover featured LeBron James and Gisele Bündchen in a less that attractive pose. The cover was channeling imagery from King Kong, which many called racially insensitive while other simply declared racist. Either way, it’s one of the the worst celebrity magazine covers.
Paris Hilton on Vanity Fair Spain
Some of the most hilarious Photoshop fails come from foreign magazines over-touching existing photoshoots (like Beyoncé’s Glamour Russia cover with lighter skin). This wasn’t the case when Greg Lotus shot Paris Hilton for Vanity Fair Spain in January 2012, but the effects were still jarring. The look should have been “Hollywood Glamour” but it ended up as “House of Wax” thanks to excessive retouching on the socialite’s face..