I used to be very vocal about the representation of non-white, non-thin women in fashion magazines, and then I decided that I would not look to fashion magazines or the mainstream media to validate me as a women, since I didn't look to them to validate me as a girl. I was fortunate enough to receive sufficient validation from my family. I usually encourage others to look for reflections of themselves elsewhere. But I have received three emails about the Italian Vogue July Issue announcement (which PurpleZoe sums up nicely), and some of my old issues about topic have been on my mind. I just wanted to get my responses off my chest*:
1. It just seems like tokenism and a reason for Sozzani to pat herself on the back and draw attention to the magazine. I agree with her in her belief that the community's negative response to an all-Black model issue is their problem, not hers. But... is this upcoming of issue of Italian Vogue going to be a fashion-magazine version of Black History Month? What I mean is: what is the motive of celebrating a race of people in one issue? What will happen in the subsequent issues? Will the ratio between white models and non-white models begin to even itself out, or will Italian Vogue return to its usual dismal numbers? We've all probably noticed that many beauty, fashion and decor magazines have published "green issues" - taking a good cause and a milking it for all its worth, so that again the focus becomes consumption instead of true consciousness about a looming issue. Would I be surprised if well-known fashion magazines started to have Black girl issues (kinda like Trace's yearly BGR issue, though Trace has been a longtime proponent of women of color, in modeling and other fields)? Absolutely not. But I would have nothing but skepticism for their motives.
2. Why can't Sozzani be truly visionary and just snatch everyday folks off the street to model? I'm not talking about these kind of people, either. I'm talking about the chubby girl on a bench in a piazza eating bread with pimples on her face and bitten fingernails and asymmetrical facial features.
3. Until these magazines begin to truly represent all forms of beauty, I can't appreciate them. Yes, it's a step in the right direction, but it's a relatively small one considering what we/they know about the lack of representation, how the industry impacts and skews womens' sense of self and beauty.
*I am biased. I don't relate to the "plights" of models, regardless of their skin color, because... they're models. They are paid a heartbreaking amount of money to promote unhealthy images of women. I'm not hating. I'm seeing it for what it is.