One step forward, two steps back. At least that’s what it seems like Elle magazine is doing.
Elle magazine does a lot of great things for (upper-middle class women) women: they encourage ambition and career advancement and financial responsibility. All good things, right? But this swimsuit issue is just not on that list.
We know what you’re thinking when we say “swimsuit issue.” Your first thought is probably of Sports Illustrated and their annual issue, which is basically classy porn you can look at in public (I mean, let’s not beat around the bush here). Elle’s take is an attempt at a high-fashion version of this.
Elle has only released the covers for this issue (there are six covers in total) but we already know one thing — plastering rail-thin models across your magazine is not going to help anyone’s self-esteem or self-worth.
Now, to be fair, Elle has chosen one plus-size model, Candice Huffine, to grace the cover. So, that’s at least something. But it doesn’t exactly make up for the other five covers, which feature Bella Hadid, Jasmine Tookes, Maria Borges, Hailey Baldwin and Elsa Hosk.
And the truth is, there are plenty of amazing and very famous plus-size or curvy models. So if they wanted to publicity or the talent, that wouldn’t be an issue. Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, Nadia Aboulhosn, Tara Lynn, Robyn Lawley, Barbie Ferriera, Tess Holliday, Denise Bidot and Jordyn Woods all come to mind.
But body diversity isn’t their only issue.
The racial diversity is also seriously lacking. Four of the models are white and two are black. That’s a good start but it’s not enough. Diversity means “showing a great deal of variety.” That means Hispanic, Asian, South Asian, Native American — not just black and white.
You might think I’m being too nit-picky. But the thing is that women across America are going to look at this and they’re not going to see themselves represented, yet again. Everyone focuses on the impact of representation on young girls (and that’s important too) but grown women are influenced by these choices too. The pictures in Elle and other magazines tell them, in not so many words, what is and isn’t beautiful and that becomes internalized.
And with “bikini body” a catch phrase that gym’s use to lure in women during the summer, there’s never a more vulnerable time for us. Stop telling us we have to be light-skinned waifs to be beautiful. It’s enough already.
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.