Last month, women around the world rejoiced when top fashion magazine, Vogue, announced they were partaking in a new health initiative that would prohibit models under the age of 16 or those with an eating disorder from appearing in the magazine. As part of their pledge, 19 editions of the magazine decided to dedicate this month's issue and front cover to health. Unfortunately, their "efforts," if you can call it that, pretty much failed miserably.
When I first heard that the magazine was going to promote healthy living for their June issues, I thought "At last! Covers that feature real bodies!" I pictured models with fit but curvy bodies, ones healthy and more attainable to the everyday woman. But I should've known better than to set my expectations so high.
Instead of doing any of the above, many of the international Vogue staffers decided to take the laziest approach possible to their supposedly health-inspired covers: they used pretty much the exact same kind of models as they usually do (maybe older than 16, but most still extremely thin), put them in bathing suits and called it a day. Seriously? How exactly does that promote healthy living? Actually how is that any different at all from what the magazine normally does?
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And to make matters worse, most of the issues that didn't feature women in bathing suits were just as unsuccessful—instead of doing the opposite, the majority also pictured super skinny, unsmiling models in scary-high heels or over-the-top jewelry, all of whom were obviously airbrushed to perfection.
Only a handful of magazines created covers that were actually healthy looking. Vogue US played it safe but smart with their feature of Olympic athletes (including two toned but strong ladies, Hope Solo and Serena Williams) frolicking on the beach. Vogue Italia displayed the lovely but real Isabella Rossellini, fully covered and wearing a beautiful smile. And Vogue Mexico featured a beautiful and voluptuous Karolina Kurkova in a pin-up girl outfit (Latinos do love curves!).
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I'm glad that Vogue is finally talking about promoting better body image and bringing that conversation into mainstream media, but they obviously still have a long way to go. I'm really disappointed with their efforts this month… I mean--come on--bathing suits? There are plenty of much more effective and creative ways to depict healthy living. They had a great opportunity here to break new ground in the fashion/modeling industry and they just didn't deliver.
Hopefully one day, Vogue and other similar publications will be able to let go of this idealized beauty standard that they're selling and instead focus on what the majority of their consumers really want to see--which is healthy and happy women with realistic bodies like themselves.
Check out the June covers below and tell us if you think they do a good job emodying health in the comments!