Keira Knightley’s Topless Protest Against Photoshopping


Keira Knightley’s unedited, topless photo-shoot for ‘Interview Magazine’ boldly protested against photo-shopping after the unexplained enhancement of her breasts for promotional posters of “King Arthur”.


Despite the image’s controversy, the connotations (signifieds) of Knightley’s proud display of her unedited appearance (especially after her previous shoot with Interview Magazine – to the right) went a long way in highlighting the presented issue, and encouraging similar protests from other popular celebrities. Many related to Knightley’s stand-point, expressing strong beliefs of the media’s forcing these images and their unrealistic expectations onto media audiences. Knightley further clarified her protest, stating “I think Women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame,” keira-knightley-interview-magazine-april-2012-cover(Kat Brown 2014), and (Doug Sibor 2014) that it felt important to ‘send the message’ that shape isn’t important. Knightley’s stance on manipulated images of celebrities being pushed onto the public provoked much discussion and controversy in the media industry. In addition to the connotations of her photos launching discussion in relation to the perception, treatment, rights and responsibilities of men and women in the media, her further nude photo-shoot with Scarlett Johansson and fully clothed Tom Ford in 2006 further emphasised the gap in demands made of famous men and women in terms of utilising their sexuality both for publicity and in the roles they are asked to play as professional performers.

The image of Knightley in monochrome, wearing only pants and elbow-length gloves (denotations) represents her open opposition to the media’s photo-shopping of her own, and other celebrities’, images and the further projection of these images upon said celebrities’ audiences. Knightley’s bold statement was made with the intention of highlighting the importance of self-acceptance and to show defiance in the face of images in the media which project discriminatory and unrealistic ideals of body-shape and appearance through celebrities.

However, without this knowledge of Knightley’s intent in advertising the photo, the deeper meaning and connotations of the image could have been lost due to our own preconceived ideologies (mostly encouraged by the often scandalous nature of these types of images in the media) could lead us to read the image as merely another celebrity stunt. As an audience accustomed to the usual antics of celebrities within the media, Knightley’s deeply important connotations could have been lost due to the ingrained-connotations we have of images such as this in the media and their usual motives of advertisement, appeal and self-promotion.


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5 thoughts on “Keira Knightley’s Topless Protest Against Photoshopping”

  1. Hi Kristin your blog post was really good to read! I like how you’ve picked a complex issue that is very common in society with all of the editing tools available, so it is relatable to modern audiences. Through this example of Keria Knightly’s Interview magazine shoot I think you’re really demonstrated your understanding of semiotics. Overall it was an interesting post to read !


  2. Such an informed post! Your extensive reference to numerous articles, celebrities and events clearly illustrates the research you put into your post in order to give it depth and meaning. Upon first glance, it does seem as if Knightley was simply aiming to induce publicity and shock the audience. It is interesting you chose this image, particularly in light of Kim Kardashian’s recent nude picture on her social media sites, which was seemingly the opposite of what Knightley was aiming to produce. Your explanation of the connotations and the true meaning behind the photograph was insightful and easily understandable.


  3. This is a great post in relation to semiotics! I love how it is a modern issue within media making it easier for our generation to understand and relate. I appreciate how you have used the image of Keira Knightley’s ‘heavily edited, photo shoot with Interview Magazine’ to support your idea and give your viewers a visual example, I would have also loved if you attached the image from the ‘promotional posters of King Arthur’ since it would provide as another clear example of the issue. I think another great point you could have made in relation to the different perceptions of people, is that for one to understand the meaning behind the movement they must of had previous knowledge of the issues she faced with photoshopped images. Overall a very interesting and insightful post!


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