Talking of Italian Vogue, the current July cover featuring three plus size models is a hot topic of conversation right now. Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, is known for campaigning against pro anorexia websites and despite using skinny models throughout her magazine, Sozzani does seem to genuinely want to promote healthy body types rather than bodies personified as “skinny” or “fat”. This is a great thing, because Sozzani is in a position where she can make people listen and contribute towards changing perceptions of what is considered attractive. (She is also taking advantage of her position with regards to ethnicity within the industry).
I like the cover. Steven Meisel’s photograph features three fuller figured girls (Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine and Robyn Lawley) wearing not much more than lingerie and jewellery. The girls pose effortlessly around a dinner table covered with wine and food that is obviously being consumed – and more to the point, enjoyed. Boobs, thighs and even a crease of a waist are all clearly on show alongside calorific red wine and what looks like a huge bowl of pasta. Crazy, really, because pasta is CARBS!
The cover shot is refreshing, it’s modern, it’s defiant. You can almost hear the models say, “Yeah, we just ate a double portion of carbs – now pass me the Givenchy!” The fashion spread inside the magazine contains a lot of nudity and yes, perhaps it might have been more refreshing to style the girls in haute couture, but the nakedness is the whole point. The word “curvy” is thrown around to describe anyone over a size 12 (not always the case) and while these models are definitely curvy, they are by no means overweight despite enjoying a good dinner. They’re healthy and that is the message being sent. Not that they are plus size models but that they are healthy models.
The July cover of Italian Vogue screams a message. It challenges anyone who can’t see beyond a size 10. It says: “We’re bigger than you’re used to seeing in the glossy pages of a high fashion magazine, but take a closer look – we’re hot.”
And ladies, that means you too are hot. You are beautiful who ever you are, what ever you look like. And this does not just apply to the “skinny” vs “fat” debate. It applies to everyone. It applies to shape, size, ethnicity, disability, religion and sexuality. We shouldn’t be dictated to about what is beautiful. We ourselves should decide what is beautiful (it is in the eye of the beholder, after all) and we should be the ones to judge our own bodies and our own life choices.
The fashion industry does appear to be moving forward. Tyra Banks dedicated cycle 13 of America’s Next Top Model to models under 5’7, while Katie Grand featured Kate Moss and transgender model Lea T kissing on the cover of Love magazine’s Androgyny Issue. Like Franca Sozzani, Mark Fast is a promoter of diversity, using plus size models in his runway shows. Both Sozzani and Fast are consistent when it comes to offering alternative beauty. Instead of simply ticking boxes by adding a token alternative, I hope that other editors and designers do truly understand that beauty comes in different forms and that they aren’t just ticking boxes every few seasons. Our differences are what make us beautiful and I for one find it difficult to believe there can be only one ideal.