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No one wants to see a real person on the cover of Vogue, says Vogue editor


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Would you buy a copy of Vogue with a healthy, unedited, “real” person on the front cover?

Well according to the editor of Vogue, the answer is a resounding no!

"People always say "why do you have thin models? That's not what real people look like" - but nobody really wants to see a real person looking like a real person on the cover of Vogue."

In fact, Shulman, who has edited the fashion magazine since 1992, is bored of having to keep answering this question, saying: "I get fed up with having to deal with the question of why are models thin; that sort of bores me."

While during her interview with Lily Allen she does argue that sample sizes from designers should be bigger, she still feels there is an element of fantasy when you read a glossy mag such as Vogue:  "People don't want to buy a magazine like Vogue to see what they see when they look in the mirror. They can do that for free."

The question is, has Vogue ever had a “real” person on the front cover? The only diversity that Vogue offers as been Lena Dunham, Adele and Alexa Chung, among the slew of skinny airbrushed models. In fact Vogue has come under fire recently for not having enough women of colour on the front cover, something Shulman doesn’t comment on in her interview 

Regardless, even if fashion is a “fantasy” that Vogue caters to, Vogue also is directly responsible of perpetuating this fantasy; we all know that beauty standards and desires are a social construct, so for Shulman to claim that we don’t want to see “real women” in Vogue falsely implies that the fashion industry doesn’t have an impact on what we think is beautiful. At the end of the day, we all know that we are never going to look like Adriana Lima, but if Shulman believes that all women aspire to (and believe that they can) look like that, she and others around her, are implicit in perpetuating the negative body image of so many women.

Of course, this issue isn’t clear-cut. For example, the issue of Vogue with Adele on the front was the worst performing cover in the history of the magazine, but of course, that could be due to the fact that they’ve cropped out her body… similar to how American Vogue treated the cover with Lena Dunham. Why would you buy a fashion magazine without any actual clothes on the front cover?

Its time the fashion industry realised that women’s fantasies can surpass the “OMG I want to be skinny like her” stage - that women don’t just admire female celebrities because of their looks, but for their style, personality, philanthropy, and so on.

Of course Vogue has an element of fantasy. Most women cannot afford the extortionate clothing and jewellery that adorn its pages, but it's fun to flick through the glossy pages. What the industry needs to realise is that women look at those images and imagine themselves in those dresses and jewellery, (something that can't be done with a mirror); they don’t just aspire to look like the model wearing them.

I appreciate that Shulman has been honest about how the fashion industry thinks, but isn’t it time that the industry recognises that its simplistic view of what women aspire to is unattainable and unhealthy?

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