Curvy women and black culture are officially en vogue.
Vogue Italia has relaunched their website to include channels for Vogue Curvy (for full-figured women), Vogue Black (for black women) and Vogue Talents (for up-and-coming talents).
The site, which is available in English, boasts video interviews, photo galleries, articles and images—all the features fashion lovers spend hours dissecting on the web.
Vogue Curvy currently features an interview with plus-size model of the moment, Crystal Renn, while Vogue Black offers an exclusive talk with model/mogul Tyra Banks. Vogue Black also includes a profile on Grace Jones and an article “Know Your Fro” by amazing beauty blogger and friend of The Glamazons, Afrobella. Vogue Talents presents an interview with the Rodarte sisters, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, and footage from their Fall 2010 Fashion Show.
The content is pretty exceptional. The concept, on the other hand, has caused quite the controversy.
In general, everyone agrees that it’s great that Vogue Italia recognizes that curvy women and black culture are worth celebrating. But some argue that presenting them on separate channels is still divisive. It’s like saying ‘You deserve attention, just not on our main channel. Here’s a section just for you.’
Similar complaints were made during the launch of the Vogue Italia All-Black issue and V Magazine’s Size Issue. To some, it perpetuated separatism. Instead of incorporating women of color and women with curves into these magazines on a regular basis, groups are given an issue where it’s all about them…one month out of the year. They’re celebrated, yes, but still marginalized.
On the other hand, people are arguing that ESSENCE Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Latina Magazine, Sister 2 Sister Magazine, etc. are just as separatist, focusing solely on a particular ethnic group. Sure magazines like Ebony were created as the answer to exclusion from the mainstream, but now those magazines have set the tone for what “inclusion” means. It seems Vogue Italia is just following suit using that same, proven formula.
Which leads me to my next question…can a wide range of cultures, sizes and ethnicities be represented (regularly) in one book? Is it even possible?
Judging from some unfortunate comments about the Vanity Fair controversy, if a magazine is not overtly associated with a race, people believe it should be assumed that it’s a “white magazine.” Which presents the need for a “black magazine.” Perhaps, that’s the thinking behind Vogue Italia’s separate channels.
When will the pages of a magazine, or the screen of a website, be big enough to fit all of us? Do we even want it to? Discuss.