WE ARE JUDGING YOU FOR JUDGING EVERYONE
UK Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman recently told the Telegraph that “people don’t want to buy a magazine like Vogue to see what they see when they look in the mirror. They can do that for free,” and I am livid. Although Shulman has rallied against the ridiculous sizes of sample sizes in the past, her latest statement contradicts the very essence of embracing all bodies. It also brings up how gross the sale of beauty has become, and the fact that such hyper-critical people are responsible for churning out a marketable aesthetic. The production of unrealistic beauty standards is nothing new, but blatantly telling the public that ‘real people’ don’t belong on magazine covers is straight up cold.
Shulman also said the most popular cover stars tended to look like "the most perfect girl next door," another unobtainable standard set for women! Although Shulman definitely deserves criticism for her blatant disrespect and ignorance, she has admitted that the industry is corrupt. “I do think designers should cut bigger and use bigger models on the catwalk. I’ve said it again and again…there is much more diversity than there used to be, it is changing.” But her generalization about "normal" people goes against another fact she shared: the girl next-door sells. People WILL buy magazines displaying people and things to which they can relate. This point is reinforced by the rise of natural, down-to-earth comedians, actresses and divas like Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, and Tina Fey.
She added that she was "fed up" of dealing with the question of why models are thin. It sounds like Shulman is at the end of her rope, but I think the public has it a little worse, with the rise of plastic surgery, the desire to stay young, and young girls developing eating disorders.
Shulmans argument that Vogue does not reflect reality is totally valid - the fashion world has always been avant-garde - but does that mean we should be deprived of different body types? You can throw tulle and glitter all over a model of any size or shape or color and make the cover look like a dream world; what does the body type have to do with that?
Speaking on BBC Radio 2, where guest presenter and singer Lily Allen interviewed her, the editor argued that designers ought to use bigger models and cut larger sample sizes, but admitted she was "bored" of the discussion about models' size. She added: "People always say why do you have thin models? But nobody really wants to see a real person looking like a real person on the cover of Vogue.” Alas, there are real people on the cover of Vogue…they are often just distorted past the point of recognition.
We want to see real people on the cover who inspire and show bodies that we can relate to. Yes, there is a certain amount of fantasy in the fashion industry, but asking for a little expansion into diverse territory really isn’t asking for a lot. There are two ridiculous assumptions being made here: models are not people, and mere mortals are not worthy of the fashion industry. This obviously isn’t true, as proven by endless advertisements such as Diesel's We Are Connected , or Aerie's #aerieReal beauty un-retouched images, or this mannequin campaign.
What is most toxic and disarming about this situation is the beauty standard that is set, and that the people behind them (editors, art directors, photographers, retouchers) are not taking responsibility or making changes based on the public's agenda. If "perfect" models and "normal" women alike are STILL being airbrushed, it shows that there is a problem with the industry, not a problem with the consumer.
Images courtesy of Vogue, Huffington Post, Xaxor, and CBS