Now, a lot of people have commented on the Vogue Shape issue. Jezebel, among others, has mentioned that the issue fails to address how the magazine (and the fashion industry) perpetuates unrealistic and damaging beauty standards and, ultimately, that the issue does little to suggest that Vogue intends to change its game plan by regularly hiring models who aren’t over 5 foot 9 and under 120. Thus, this issue is exceptional, not an actual attempt to change the status quo.
All of this is fair. I was pretty disappointed with the issue overall. Don’t get me started on how the magazine praises the “thin” body type of scrawny half-sisters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon (who smoke, twirl around clear-liquid soups, and don’t eat during their interview) as possessors of a gamine jolie laide. Or that model Doutzen Kroes represents the “athletic” body type. What about the Williams Sisters? What about getting ol’ Thunder and Lightnin’ to make another appearance? She’s the reason why female biceps are the hot fashion accessory) yet is considered too fat to model for Gucci. Some impossibly thin fashion designer was the magazine’s pick for the “tall” body. And even though Beyoncé is the cover girl, her interview is all about how strict her diet and exercise regimens are (man, if ever a lady could pull a Chaka Kahn and let it all go and look fierce in a muumuu, it’s B).
All in all, business as usual. One dainty stillettoed tiptoe forward, four clomping platform heel steps back (though, I will admit that I was really interested in artist Wangechi Mutu, representing the “pregnant” body and I totally wanna hang out with best friends and fellow shorties Olivia Thirlby and Zoë Kravitz, who, based on their article, seem fun and have an encyclopedic knowledge of contemporary fashion).
However, I was heartened by the appearance of Adele, the young blue-eyed soul singer from East London who won Best New Artist at the Grammys earlier this year. I love her. She seems young and brash and fun and mouthy and unapologetic about her body (I love that the article mentions that she went to an In-and-Out Burger after the Grammys and wanted to get two milkshakes, one for each award she received). Also . . . damn, that voice.
That girl has got some chops. The song makes me cry every time I hear it. Chills. But she also seems really down to earth and relateable. Like when she sang “Cold Shoulder” on Saturday Night Live and jumped back from the mike gleefully after she finished? Adorable. (Note: Sorry, I can’t find the clip — if you find it, be a sport and share.)
Also, she should be in Vogue. The girl is gorgeous. Not gorgeous for a big girl. Gorgeous. Period. She’s got some face and she’s got some figure. Aren’t pretty people supposed to be in a fashion magazine sometimes? It can’t always be about editorial edge.
The thing is, Adele shouldn’t be exceptional. And she shouldn’t be labeled as “curvy” (or, rather, she shouldn’t be positioned as “curvy” in contrast to Jane Birkin’s maigre daughters — the term reads like such a euphemism for “fat” in this context). Nor should she be contained, restrained, or airbrushed, as some folks speculate her curve-masking photo for Vogue was doctored. At a UK size 14, perhaps its better to call her “average” or “normal,” as she sits comfortably alongside the average American woman.
Or maybe she could represent the “fat” body type and confront (hopefully to remove) the stigma that comes with that word. Come to think of it, she should be posing with Beth Ditto, the proudly full-figured lead singer of The Gossip, herself a major influence on British blue-eyed soul singers like Adele (as a tangent, what is wrong with America when we let a national treasure like Beth Ditto become more popular in the UK?).
Get over it, Vogue. Open up modeling opportunities for people of all body types and let your models double-fist their milkshakes on set. I know you won’t, but you fucking should.