Deborah Needleman Encounters Cover Model Outcry

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Deborah Needleman. Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc.com/BFA NYC

Earlier this week, the Times's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, noticed that several readers had complained about T magazine's latest cover model, Julia Nobis — namely, that she was too skinny. Deborah Needleman, T's editor, issued the following response:

Julia Nobis, the model, is a 20-year-old undergraduate studying medicine. We chose her because of her strong looks and the personality she is able to project. She is rather thin for my taste, as most models are, and I considered adding some fat to her with Photoshop, but decided that as it is her body, I’d let it be.

At last night's Friends of the High Line event, Needleman discussed the matter further:

DN: I wasn't surprised about the backlash, but I also think two or three, or four or five people writing is not a backlash. But it gets attention because we have a public editor.

NYM: Have you ever used Photoshop to make someone look less skinny before?

DN: I've never done it, but I've just thought about it.

NYM: Will it change how you pick models going forward at all?

DN: No. I am always aware and trying to not pick super-skinny models. In fact, in the pictures of her [we first saw] she was heavier, and then we shot after fashion month and she was super-skinny. [Ed. note: she did have a very, very busy fashion month.] But models are really skinny. I think part of it is the Times readership — it's not necessarily a fashion audience. In real people's eyes, models are really, really skinny.

Models, this is a reminder to eat between shows. And with that, we'll consider the matter closed.