Tuesday, March 2, 2010

C'mon Vogue

Dear No One in Particular,

I was going to write a post about food, and scratching a goal off my Life List, because hello -- are you new here? I'm Amanda and I live to eat. I also write to eat and slang strollers so that I can afford to eat at delicious restaurants.


Gorgeous Vanessa from Chicken Soup for the Dorky Soul (which is how she should introduce herself from now on) posted about something that irritated me to the point that I can no longer ignore my blog and lie on my sofa watching re-runs of 'The Office'.

Apparently blinding, psychotic rage is my muse.

I've written about fashion and public perceptions of beauty quite a bit, because I believe that the notion that fashion is frivolity and therefore below examination is really very dangerous. I would argue that the fashion and beauty industries control quite a bit of the average Western woman's life; to ignore that, or to dismiss it as fluff belies how incredibly menacing they can be.
How many stories have you heard of aspiring models being hospitalized due to eating disorders? How many skin bleaching products line the shelves of pharmacies around the world? Waving these questions off as unimportant is tantamount to waving off all the women who slave under the misapprehension that if only they were skinnier, whiter, younger -- if they simply fit the ideal -- they would be set for life.

At the centre of this maelstrom of self-hatred and misogyny is Vogue. Not just American Vogue, which, let's face it: is almost a parody of its former self, but the whole Vogue family.

Vogue Italia (which I used to hate marginally less than most Vogues) recently added a couple of subsections to their main website: Vogue Curvy and Vogue Black.

I have to admit: I kind of love both of these websites. They're well-laid out, the articles are really good, and most surprising of all: they feature what they advertise. The curvy ladies splashed about are actually curvy; no Lara "boobs = curves LOL" Stone here. 'Vogue Black', hilariously enough, opens with a giant shot of Michael Jackson, but also features Grace Jones.

Sure, I should be glad that a captain of industry such as Vogue would dare acknowledge such outliers as women with curves and black people, but I'm not -- at least, not really.
In fact, my initial reaction was: Fuck me, Vogue is obnoxious.

They are so backward in their thinking -- and so self-righteous in their ignorance that it's maddening. I thought it was just Wintour that acted like a pompous ostrich with her head in the sand, but it appears that the whole Vogue family is infected. And I LIKED Vogue Italia for a minute there, specifically when they published that fabulous Black Issue.
Vogue suffers from delusions of grandeur: they think that if they release an issue with a handful of pages featuring women who fall marginally outside of their norm they should be lauded as heroes. What's even more maddening is the way they treat such features: the copy is heavy, weighted down with style-jargon trying to explain how they dare let such freaks associate with their shining white name; the photos are airbrushed to the point of amusement; and the features only exist to highlight the "otherness" of the subject.

Vogue (and publications like it) takes gorgeous women like the ones featured on the new websites and makes them into a sideshow of freaks. They are not normal -- they're barely even human -- because they fall outside the "obscenely skeletal white teenage girl" norm that dominates Western fashion.

I refuse to believe that I'm simply bitter because I fall outside the norm. I continue to hope against hope that the fashion industry will start to look more like a rainbow rather than a gathering of emaciated Hitler Youth.

We need to stop segregating minorities from the rest of the fashion world and start not just including them, but welcoming them into fashion proper.
Fuck the fashion magazines that publish spreads with Crystal Renn and Chanel Iman and then demand praise as if they did something extraordinary. I want to open a magazine and see women that look like me: women with boobs and hips, with wild curls, and darker skin. That is a magazine I would praise with my hard-earned cash. I know that this magazine is out there, waiting to be willed into existence.

C'mon, Vogue.



Diana said...

I want to be offended but then I know realistically I'll spend a few minutes browsing, secretly praising the curvy section. Then I'll get pissed for even being categorized.

Side note: I went to F21, and browsed Faith 21. I was so angry but I didn't know what to do: STFU and shop or get out of the store and not give them my business??
Of course, I walked out with a great dress I will shamelessly wear with no dignity.

Vanessa said...

Amen, girl! You rock!

Manda said...

hi amanda, i love this piece and i totally agree.

i've written a few angry rants to magazine editors about this exact subject. i got a reply from one and sit went along the lines of 'for our magazine to exist inside this industry we have to print what people want to see and by occasionally including some curvy non-white womyn we are using our influence to make positive change. we are doing what we can while being oppressed by the expectations put upon us by the fashion magazine industry. we should probably get some kind of medal and personal thanks from all curvy non-white womyn would be nice too'

it's just like you said. they are so self-righteous in their ignorance.

Erin G. said...

Hey, my name's Erin and I admire what your doing. You're a really good writer.