A good friend of mine recently brought my attention to an article in the NY Times…which I promptly didn’t get around to sharing for way too long. This morning I was reminded that I hadn’t used it yet, which was one of those horrible Homer Simpson moments in my life. No, really, I turned yellow with a 5 o’clock shadow and a pocket protector. This was not pretty. The pocket protector was by far the worst aspect.
Once I’d regained my more standard whiter shade of pale, I remembered to use my good intentions and talk about the July issue of Italian Vogue.
While most fashion models don’t look like me in that they are tall and…well…lots of things I’m just not, there is one way in which the vast majority of working models do look like me: they are white. Looking through the average fashion magazine, one sees few women of color. I’m not the only one who notices this fact.
Steven Meisel is one of the top fashion photographers today. He’s the sort of photographer who has the power to do as he pleases and the moxie to choose to do something considered daring in the fashion world: he has chosen all black models for the July issue of Italian Vogue.
This makes me happy. I would love to see the fashion world become more diverse, more welcoming to those outside the beauty ‘norm’ of the industry. Hell, I’d love to see an all Asian or all Latina issue of a mainstream fashion magazine…and then I’d love to see these women on the pages of the magazines when it’s not a stunt issue. I’d be thrilled to open up a magazine and see faces of every color of the rainbow looking back at me, being beautiful and well-groomed and superfantastic.
Meisel has chosen a gorgeous lineup for his issue, too. Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks (yes, in the same issue of the same magazine and not apparently harming one another in any way), Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek…and the list goes on. But he only had trouble getting one model approved for the pages by editor Franca Sozzani: Toccara Jones.
That’s right, Toccara who competed on America’s Next Top Model. What was the beef? Is she not pretty? Yes, she is. Is she not photogenic? Yes, she is. Is she not a working model? Yes, she is. But she is one more thing: she is fat.
Actually, she’s not even what I’d call fat, but according to industry standards, she’s elephantine.
That’s the other sort of face I’d like to see looking out at me from magazines, the one that matches mine no matter the color and configuration of features. We’d all like to see ourselves looking out from those pages, or at least someone we could be.
Mr. Meisel was clearly perplexed by the difficulties he encountered in casting Ms. Jones:
“I wanted to say something about weight, and I’m never allowed to do that,” he said. “I met Toccara and thought, she’s beautiful. What’s the deal with her? She’s great and she’s sexy.”
In the end, he did get his way. Toccara Jones was cast and photographed for the magazine. I’m thrilled about that.
And Mr. Meisel? If you ever shoot an all-fat issue of a fashion magazine, I will definitely buy a copy.
We Big Girls are legion, and we are awesome, and we are beautiful, and we would like to be seen, too.