Essay on Controversial Fashion Magazines

‘Vogue is a fashion magazine, and a fashion magazine is about change,” Anna Wintour. Imagine a girl walking down the crowded streets, when she suddenly see a newsstand filled to the brim with brand new magazines. She sees poking out amongst the chaos the beautiful colors of the cover of Vogue. She feels the excitement as she opens up the magazine and feels the glossy pages. She instantly buys it and races home to read it. She finds that it is not just a fashion bible it is a beacon for controversy. Vogue causes her to start thinking about things that she has never thought of before and focus on cultural issues.

She realizes that, as one of the world’s most influential mediums for promoting social commentary, Vogue has been on the front lines fostering controversy over issues such as civil rights, gender equality, and critical social and cultural issues of the time. Vogue has taken on controversial topics like civil rights. Most magazines were scared to publish such controversial articles, but not Vogue. Many of some of the fashion’s greatest fads have come from African American culture. Fashion magazines would send people out to primarily black areas to get ideas for new fashion trends.

For example, Hot Pants in the 1970’s came from what women would wear in Harlem (Wilson). They first started by publishing articles on the fashion of the civil rights era. They would take pictures of women in marches, sit-ins, and other forms of protest to show the fashion of African American women during the movement. What the photographers inadvertently displayed was the struggle of the movement. The photos showed the housewives around the country what was going on and inspired some to get involved.

Also, it had pictures of African American couples doing ormal things and making them more relatable to the white population of the time (Kwateng). Another way Vogue helped with the advancement of civil rights was have the first black model to be on the cover of a fashion magazine. In an interview with Claire Bowes cover girl, Beverly Johnson stated that her agent told her, “You’re never going to be on the cover of Vogue. You’re doing all this other work for Glamour and you should count your lucky stars” (Bowes). When she first started hairdresser would refuse to do her hair or had never touched a black women hair. In 1974 she got her big break, Vogue called her in for a shoot.

Kodak had to create a new range of colors to accommodate her skin tone, but Vogue was determined to have her model for them. (Bowes). She didn’t find out until she saw the magazine in a newsstand that she had made the cover. With one picture Vogue broke down barriers by being the first to desegregate magazine covers. With one picture she became a beacon of hope for all women and models of color. Some of the people Johnson inspired are Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Beyonce. While America rejoiced Europe looked their noses down because they had black models on covers on magazines for years prior to this (Wilson).

Vogue has continued their crusade for civil rights with the creation of VBlack. VBlack is subdivision of Vogue dedicated to black culture in fashion. This database dates all the way back to Beverly Johnson and has models as recent as Zendaya (Vblack). This was created after the creation of the all black issue of Vogue as means to help support up incoming black artist. The all black of issue was met with some resistance, but ultimately became the fastest selling issue of Vogue. This raging success showed that Vogue should and could create a new division focusing on Black culture in fashion (Stewart).

This database is so important because black models worked more in the seventies and the eighties. When someone is asked to name a black model, most would name one from those decades. For this very reason, Vogue has made it their new mission to help young black models and artist succeed in a primarily white industry (Vblack). Vogue has also taken on issues such as gender equality. In America, a woman makes . 784 to every man’s dollar. A prime example of this is the Women’s Soccer team. The team has just recently stated that they will boycott the Olympic games until the make as much as the Men’s team.

Vogue has not only reported on this topic but backed the team completely. Vogue has built up the strength of the women’s team and the success of them all (Ruiz). The magazine also encourages other women to be strong and fight for equal pay. Vogue also shows the issues women face in their professional lives to people of all backgrounds. Vogue started this fight in the 1960s and is continuing to fight (Garcia). Vogue helped pushes women forward in the 1930’s by publishing magazines with women in pants. During this time period, it was considered scandals for women to wear pants.

Up to this point, pants were just for pajamas. This pushed women to dress masculine by wearing trousers and pushed for slacks to become a staple in fashion. In America, Vogue showed women feminizing the pants while in England the made pants more masculine. As time went on Vogue showed women in colorful pants and doing everyday chores while in pants. In large part women started to wear pants because xi weathered the controversy and pushed for women to wear pants (Munford). One of the most influential women in breaking the glass ceiling is the Editor in Chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour.

Anna Wintour started her career in 1976 by writing for magazines like Harper Bazar, Viva, Penthouse, and New York. When penthouse fell on hard times she financed part of it out of her own pocket. In 1986, her hard work paid off when she was asked to be the editor of British Vogue. She brought the magazine to people of all backgrounds, not just the Wealthy. In 1988, she became editor in chief of Vogue. Before this Vogue had fallen on hard times, but Wintour brought it back. Her hard work has turned it into the fashion bible it is considered to be now (Anna Wintour). Society tends to view Wintour as cruel and cold.

This is largely due to the movie The Devil Wears Prada. The movie was written by her by her former assistant and the character Miranda Priestly is said to be based on Anna Wintour. Wintour is crude and hard on her workers, but it pushes them that much farther. Women have to work ten times harder than men to get somewhere and she prepares them for that. Wintour makes her workers dress to the nines, but they work for a fashion empire and they should. While some may take her as cold, many see her hard working, driven and working to push the next generation (Devil Wears Prada a True Story).

Vogue has taken on social and cultural Issues through the years such as Domestic Violence. Vogue created a video in protest of domestic violence. Model are showed being spread in blood in being attacked to show the violence that women go through. The video captures the sense of constant fear that some women live in. Also gave disturbing facts like one in three are abused every year. Also points out that it is everyone’s civic duty to stop it. The director did not care about the backlash he felt it needed to be stated to the country (Goldberg). Vogue has taken a stand against sexual assault.

Vogue has started fighting back against colleges turning a blind eye to date rapes and other sexual assaults that have happened on campus. They have exposed campuses that do not protect victims. Also, rape in the military and how it is pushed under the rug. Also, Vogue has reported on different laws that have been pending, through out the years and which politicians are willing to fight and protect them. Vogue shows the history of the fight for the protection of victims starting in the nineties to recent times. With every article, there is a common theme that the attack, no matter the circumstances, is the woman fault (Johnson).

During the eighties, as addiction started to sweep the nation, Vogue started publishing articles to help those battling with addiction. Some of the most powerful were those from people who went through the battle of addiction. In one such article, a woman speaks of the struggle with her family and how getting clean helped repair the relationships. Also in the eighties started publishing articles on what drove people to start using and how to avoid using them and deal with the problems in their lives that drive them to try drugs. The main theme to the readers struggling with addiction is they are not alone in their struggle (McMillan).

Vogue started off as just a fashion magazine, but has blossomed into a magazine that provokes critical thinking. People no longer just read Vogue for the fashion, but also for the articles and the content itself. Vogue has reported on controversial topics like civil rights, gender equality, and cultural and social issues. Vogue will continue to publish articles and encourage women to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Vogue is one of the world’s most influential mediums for promoting social commentary and has created controversy over issues such as civil rights, gender equality, and critical social and cultural issues of the time.