You have to credit social media’s much-feared call-out culture — with the help of the retweet button we’ve ushered inclusivity into one of the most exclusive industries to ever exist, leaving the gatekeepers scrambling to get with the times. Unsurprisingly, fashion’s volte-face hasn’t gone unnoticed by those who prompted and pursued an industry-wide shift…and they’re not taking it lying down.
Enter: Vogue. Last week the outlet released a 10-part series, The Models, on YouTube, including a particularly powerful episode that discussed body-shaming. In the video each model, including supernovas Ali Michael (the subject of this Wall Street Journal story), Gemma Ward, Paloma Elesser and many more, share experiences with cruel designers, near-impossible weight expectations, and eating disorders. It’s a much-needed spotlight on fashion’s former self and its long-held very narrow beauty parameters — which is all a very good thing, right? Sure, except the video was produced by Vogue, a publication infamous for maintaining unrealistic beauty standards. The irony was, evidently, not lost on the video’s viewers.
You’ll remember in the Devil Wears Prada — a film based on a book written by a former assistant to Anna Wintour, which was believed to be such a profound drag the Vogue editor-in-chief allegedly banned designers from appearing in it – Miranda Priestly’s assistant Andie drops a size to better acclimate to fictional fashion magazine to Runway. This perception of Vogue is as old as time, perpetuated by entertainment and industry insiders. No doubt for this reason, each of the five top-rated comments directly addresses the magazine’s contribution to fashion’s toxicity, which, by default, permeated the cultural consciousness to the point many young women and men have been crippled with body image issues years into adulthood.
Clearly these aren’t the sentiments of a disgruntled minority — thousands on thousands have approved every statement, many of which leave room for little rebuttal.
“Vogue puts this out so the company can, in a sense, wash their hands,” comments one. “The company knows pressure is building because the masses are waking up and becoming restless. It’s pretty much damage control. The business is built to protect and strengthen the establishment. These videos, although cathartic, are used as bread-crumbing. Just my opinion.”
Some are even more direct. “How is vogue gonna post this video when they are one of the main perpetuators of this unhealthy body image.” “No shade but doesn’t Vogue literally fuel this,” writes another.
“Btw, practice what you preach, you literally have the power to change EVERYTHING,” says Ismael Aguilar Bonet, securing over one thousand likes.
The fact that the video was offered by Vogue should not invalidate the accounts of each woman, but it does certainly pack less of a punch than it might’ve from an outlet without such industry influence — or au contraire, maybe we’re paying more attention because the perpetrator has miraculously turned defender. Either way, it’s difficult to atone for sins by pretending they never existed. Maybe what the industry really needs to reset is to finally acknowledge its responsibility.
Watch the full video, below.