The Atlantic on Why Fashion Magazines Matter

[responsive]Vogue[/responsive]The words of this anonymous critic of fashion magazines might have been written just yesterday:

“… there seems to me in all this work, a fatal tendency away from close study of individual characteristics toward types, and rather foolish types, like the wax figures of show windows. Is this our nearest approach to the presentation of ideal beauty?”

Yet those words were penned more than a century ago in The Atlantic, according to Tanya Basu in her piece “Why Fashion Magazines Matter”.

As Basu points out, much has changed in the intervening years, and the fashion magazines of yore have become a platform for more serious conversations.

It’s an interesting conundrum. The fashion industry’s portrayal of stick-thin waifs as the standard of beauty has helped draw attention to body image issues in our young girls while “questionable photography has brought on criticism for embodying almost-child pornography version of ‘high art,’” Basu asserts.

“Fashion magazines have highlighted problems with society that have often been ignored by the mainstream media, whether it be working conditions for the mothers around the world or pay discrepancies between females and their male counterparts,” she continues, nothing that in many ways, “they’ve become driving forces in the 21st-century feminism movement.”

It’s an interesting take on the industry, and one that editorial staff should note. Creating a curated content collection in a magazine title gives publishers an opportunity to engage and direct the conversation in ways that expand our thinking and widen our view.