Fig. 16, Fleming, O, (2012), Who needs Victoria’s Secret? Kate Upton lands profile in Vogue after snub from lingerie giant (and there’s not a bikini in sight) [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2166508/Kate-Upton-lands-profile-Vogue-snub-lingerie-giant-theres-bikini-sight.html [Accessed 23 March 15].
Extract from a thesis written by Sofia Arvanius for her final year studying for a BA in Visual Communication titled How has the image of women changed over time in the fashion magazine industry in America, looking specifically at the covers of the US magazine, Vogue, between the years of its first publication in 1892 until the present day?
In figure 16 we see actress and comedienne Emma Stone on the cover of Vogue at a high point of her career. Heller wrote in her article ‘Emma Stone Makes Her Vogue Cover Debut in the July Issue’ about how at the time of the cover, July 2012, the successful blockbuster The Amazing Spider-man was released that same month. Stone played the romantic lead in the 3D adaption of the Marvel comic movie that cost around $220 million to make and also appeared in movies such as The Help (2011), Superbad (2007) and Gangster Squad (2013) as well as doing comedy roles. As an A-lister in New York City, it is clear that Stone is successful in her chosen line of work. (Heller, 2012)
This is not an uncommon type of cover appearing on shop shelves in today’s world. The background is faded out. A beautiful woman is placed in the centre suggesting an alluring and provocative nature. Titles of articles and references to topics discussed in the issue are scattered over the cover image to either side of the centre figure, attempting to entice the reader into buying the magazine. On her cover of Vogue, we see Stone as a blonde instead of her usual head of red hair, a reference to her role as Gwen Stacy in the Spider-man sequel. We are given a glimpse of the lace and silk lingerie she is clad in, with a neutral beige jumper covering up some of her arms and legs. The cover in fig. 16 represents the new era of sexualising women which has not been seen in the same way in other magazine covers that I have examined in this thesis and shows a new direction taken by the producers of magazine covers in recent years. It is interesting that the image of the woman that comes across is one of a person who has succeeded in doing more than the majority of women could ever dream of, but when appearing on the cover of Vogue, Stone is sexualised, shown in a way that most people would never otherwise see her, rather than being celebrated for all the amazing achievements she has accomplished. On the other hand, perhaps Vogue is attempting to say that Emma Stone can do it all. She can obtain all the success of Hollywood, but she can also be seductively feminine. Perhaps the lingerie element of the photograph is a reference to her role in The Amazing Spider-man, but the habit of over-sexualising women has become ever more prevalent in recent years. It suggests that a woman’s achievements are secondary to whether she can look sexy or not in a photograph. (Heller, 2012)
The image of the seductive, sexualised image of the woman that appears frequently on the covers of fashion magazines including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (example fig. 16) has been criticised over the last couple of decades. HealthyTimes blog posted an article titled ‘Are Magazine Covers Eating into Your Self-Esteem?’ which looks at the reactions women have towards these types of covers. According to this article, 75 women reported feeling terrible after going through a woman’s magazine. One woman said that this was due to “being faced with pictures, articles or advertisements that points out a woman’s inadequacies.” (HealthyTimes blog, 2011) This is not an uncommon reaction from women to the images that appear on magazine covers. A hospital in Boston reported in the article ‘How Do Magazines Affect Body Image’ that when teenage girls compare their bodies with the images that are produced on magazine covers, they often feel depressed about the way they look. (Hospital Boston, 2014) Perhaps the perfected images of women on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar published in order to allow its audience to dream about a perfected life, similar to the covers in fig. 6 and fig. 10. However, even though there seems to be a negative reaction to the numerous provocative images of women on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines nowadays, it is not preventing women from buying the magazines since Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are both still leaders of the fashion magazine industry. (HealthyTimes blog, 2011) (Hospital Boston, 2014)
HealthyTimes blog. (2011). Are Magazine Covers Eating Into Your Self-Esteem?. Available: http://www.healthytimesblog.com/2011/05/are-magazine-covers-eating-into-your-self-esteem/. Last accessed 21 April 2015.
Heller, N. (2012). Emma Stone Makes Her Vogue Cover Debut in the July Issue. Available: http://www.vogue.com/865338/emma-stone-comic-relief/. Last accessed 23 March 2015
Hospital Boston. (2014). How Do Magazines Affect Body Image. Available: http://www.education.com/reference/article/how-magazines-affect-body-image/. Last accessed 21 April 2015.