You’ve surely heard about the Vogue Italia issue that features only black models, which sold out and was promptly re-printed by Conde-Nast. It’s been hailed as a landmark and had everybody buzzing, although I just read an interesting non-fawning take on it in the Guardian:
For although the melanin quotient has been dramatically upped (more than one non-white face in a fashion magazine is, true enough, a major change), glossy homogenisation is still the order of the day. Black models? Sure. But there’s not a “natural” or “kinky” in sight, indeed, barely even a mop of curly hair. This is black girls-as-white girls: all aquiline noses, large eyes, oval faces (bar the standard exception of “unusual” Alek Wek), hair coaxed into silky straightness or carefully turbaned away in shot after shot. As for “black”, it’s more latte than americano. Just in case even these carefully selected beauties fail to actually sell the stuff, the hefty advertisement content uses white models, as does the free runway guide.
Progress is progress, and I think it’s important to stop and acknowledge achievements like this–just as when, say, Glamour or Vogue publish their “body” issues that purport to celebrate women of all sizes. But when we snap back the very next second to the tired old standard…you realize just how much ground remains to be covered. Let’s not require magazine issues like this anymore: if editors and publishers would put models in their pages that reflected all real women (so, while, yes, some “real” women are skinny six-foot tall white girls, the majority of us don’t fit that mold in a myriad of ways), and not just as a publicity-savvy one-off, we wouldn’t need to hail it as a revolution.
Photo from People.com
The fold-out cover, featuring Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell