Sarah’s Style Corner: Fashion mags need to get with the times

By on February 24, 2010

The most popular movies in the film industry recently have been more like cinema milestones: the “Twilight” saga and the epic romance of “Dear John” are just two examples of films that have been generating buzz. Kristen Stewart, Amanda Seyfried and Anna Kendrick, the stars of these media gems, have gotten equal attention. They are just a few of the industry’s up-and-coming darlings, featured in coveted magazine Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood issue. As a magazine that is influential in the fashion industry and eminent in the eyes of top models, famous designers and the most talented fashion photographers, Vanity Fair must know the ideal image of beauty. However, in the most recent issue of the famed publication, this image of beauty seems to be extremely limited.

Evan Rachel Wood, Abbie Cornish and Emma Stone, of “Superbad” and “Zombieland” celebrity, have also been photographed for the Hollywood issue, but they seem to possess similar qualities to one another. As beautiful and talented as they all may be, they all exude that angelic persona: the fair skin, silky hair and perfectly toned figures. They have the rosy cheeks, bright white smiles and flawless noses. They are all carbon copies of what Hollywood stars are expected to look like these days. Many are wondering why there is an absence of diversity in both skin color and body type, especially in an age where minorities are bursting onto the movie scene with unprecedented talent and artistry.

Gabourey Sidibe, the breakout star of “Precious,” has been receiving the necessary attention, but Vanity Fair has snubbed her potential to be cover-worthy. The fear resides in the idea that perhaps the fashion industry once again has gone too far in carving out what’s beautiful and what’s not, ignoring the women who may be big, but also beautiful.

Many have defended actresses like Zoe Saldana of “Avatar” and Frieda Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire” for their lack of cover time, however, pinpointing the magazine for being ignorant of diversity is also a tough argument to make. They’ve been called racist, but is that really the case? It is hard to say that the magazine purposely denied the voluptuous and minority women the chance to grace the glossy cover. After all, Sidibe was featured in the magazine as a breakout star of 2010. Saldana has also been featured on Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue in the past, another possible reason as to why the magazine denied her the cover shoot with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The actresses featured have also been quite predominant in the industry lately—the honor they have been given isn’t necessarily undeserved. Anna Kendrick has starred opposite veteran actor George Clooney in the buzzed-about “Up in the Air,” featured newcomer Carey Mulligan has caused a stir in the Sundance film, “An Education,” and Mia Wasikowska has showcased her talent working alongside Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, and Johnny Depp (portraying Alice in the much-anticipated Tim Burton version of “Alice in Wonderland”).

Naturally, it would be refreshing to see women with a little more variety in their look; women who are stunning without the snow-white complexions or thin legs. I firmly believe that Sidibe deserved a spot next to her fellow blossoming stars: Her haunting performance in “Precious” and her ability to portray such drastic issues certainly should secure her a spot based on talent. However, women such as Sidibe show physical beauty, whether one may think it unconventional or not. The other women convey beauty as well and it should not be denied, but such high fashion magazines could benefit from adding a little more diversity to match the resurgence of diverse women making a name for themselves in an already challenging business. Featuring such women would give readers more confidence, an array of women to look up to, and reason to believe that no matter their skin color or body type, they also have the potential to strike gold in Hollywood.

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