Challenging the Conventional Covergirl

The fashion magazine industry has changed notably over the years. Previously helmed by fashion models, who sported boyish lankiness and goddess like facial structures and could chameleon to make any look work, magazines these days tout a new covergirl: the celebrity.

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Actresses are the primary bread and butter for the fashion industry. They help sell magazines like Vogue and Elle just as well as they help sell the garments being featured within them. And like models, many of them have the same skinny limbs, striking facial features, and adaptability that make them not only memorable, but intriguing to see amid new settings and new styles, and in new identities.

But what about the girls who don’t fit that bill? Well, we’ve seen those woman on the cover too, but they look a little bit different. Surely by now you’ve heard of the Melissa McCarthy coat scandal (but she picked it herself, you’ll say) or Mindy Kaling’s perplexing Elle cover, where she is the only out of a handful of other covergirls who is featured in black and white. The message being sent is a confusing one. These woman are fabulous enough to be featured and celebrated for being bold and comfortable in their own skin, but at the same time, that skin needs to stay hidden.

Courtesy of Vogue

Probably the best or maybe most surprising example of this comes with the February issue of Vogue. There was much chatter about Lena Dunham’s upcoming cover. Anna Wintour even attended the Girls Season 3 premiere! They are friends! She loves Lena! But then, take a look. It’s her face. Lena Dunham has become the spokesperson for being proud of your body, the way it is. She is often naked on her show, which makes some uncomfortable, ostensibly because she isn’t the typical size zero sex pot the viewing public is used to. I swear, at every turn, she mentions something about not fitting in, about fat camp, about celebrating how we’re all different and how real women look like her. But then we get this bogus cover, where we can barely even see her neck. And not only is she supremely airbrushed (where are her pores?), there is no body to celebrate.

Sure, inside the magazine, we see more. But it’s a pretty big miss to have someone as adamant about showing her body as Lena Dunham remain so hidden.