sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

June 11, 2012

The Fashion Industry’s War on Women

Filed under: fashion, feminism, politics — Tags: , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:38 pm

She is usually seen hiding behind her bob (Rush called her helmethead), but recently American Vogue editor Anna Wintour braved the world to record a campaign video for Barack Hussein Obama.  I love this parody (found on Powerline):

The 2006 release of the semi-fictional Devil Wears Prada must had been devastating to Anna, her being the Devil in the film title and all.  In 2009, the most powerful woman in fashion appeared in The September Issue, a documentary about her magazine.  Presumably she expected something different, but this second movie only solidified her reputation for nastiness.  I read a discussion of the film in National Review a few years ago.  Cheapskate me doesn’t have the subscription to National Review Online, so I don’t have a link, and I don’t remember who penned the piece (probably Ross Douthat).  The NRO argument was that at this point in her career, Wintour is most concerned about her legacy, and is insecure about her field of work.  While the movie makes her seem as if she concedes that fashion is the domain of airheads, National Review rightly argued that the editor of America Vogue should be proud of her role as a curator of fashion arts.

I can’t help suspecting that the celebrated trendsetter belatedly jumped into the Obama bandwagon because she feels the need to redeem herself in the eyes of the chattering class and she wants to show some sort of substance.  To be sure, Vogue publishes features on issues of the day and highlights women in politics.  But Wintour’s record on political women can generously be called dicey, and in any event, men might buy Playboy for the articles, but that’s not why women buy Vogue.  Perhaps Wintour decided to go all in on liberal politics because she doesn’t want to be remembered by the two films.  It’s too bad because the woman I saw in The September Issue was a tough boss with a good eye who pushes her subordinates to perfection.

American politics are a deeply moral enterprise.  When she said in her Obama campaign commercial that she has her reasons to support the President, we assume that her arguments are wrapped in morality.  Her profession, however, is amoral, it’s about whether or not the light hit the model’s face in exactly the right way and other related issues.  When judge on this level, Wintour is doing a superb job.  But in making her support for Barack Obama so high profile, she traded the realm of aesthetics for that of morality.

Wintour became the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue in 1988, when supermodels ruled the catwalk.  They were gorgeous and skinny, but had some sort of curve on their improbably thin and long bones.  Cindy Crawford recalls that back in her days models wore the US size 6; they are now zero or 2.  Very few women can have the kind of bodies and the faces that grace the covers of fashion magazines because these covers represented an unattainable ideal.  I know that, and I’m not raving mad because I don’t look like Cindy Crawford.  This is not to suggest that there were no anorexic models in the 80s, but the causes of anorexia nervosa are complicated, and the 80s supermodels were valid as a female ideal.  There were no mistaking them for underdeveloped girls, and no doubt that they turned heads.

1991 Versace ad Brooklyn

“The 80s supermodels” in an 1991 Versace ad

Shortly after Wintour assumed the Vogue leadership, the fashion industry elevated a mousy junkie Kate Moss to the status of a fashion icon.  Heroin chic became all the rage, and Moss’s reputation for hard partying solidified her hold on the industry.  Moss did at least six US Vogue covers — far less than the UK and France editions, but still a formidable number.  Last year, Anna Wintour dedicated the cover of her September issue to the wedding of Kate Moss.  Makes me wonder how much space she will devote to her divorce.

Kate Moss no make up

Unflattering light notwithstanding, she looks much older than the 35 she was at the time. Moss is notorious for her “without make up” photos.  Her… mmm… lets call them “post-menopausal” real looks are fair game because Kate’s off- catwalk persona  is part of the package

Like anorexia, drug use in the fashion industry is nothing new.  In 1987 Leonard Cohen wrote:

I don’t like your fashion business mister
And I don’t like these drugs that keep you thin
I don’t like what happened to my sister
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

What was so sad about the 90s look is the affirmation of it.

The current trend for pre-teen models crossed the line, thankfully, here in the US.  Wintour came out with a “brave” statement, promising that:

We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.

Better than nothing, I suppose, but Wintour didn’t promise to reject ads with underage models and her muse Moss with her ingenue features and flat body spent decades perfecting the juvenile delinquent look.  Quite a few girls who work the catwalk today look like they might be in their mid-teens even if they are 25 — and that’s sick.  Anfter Kate Moss any talk of “a healthy body image” seems insincere.  Also, where does Michelle Obama stand on underage models, anorexia and drug addiction, and why does she associate with the likes of Wintour?

We, the aging first world consumers, complain that much of what the fashion industry produces is waif couture.  But watch fashion consultants try to dress up a middle age matron that we are ostensibly required to take seriously:

Michelle Obama London

Wintour is putting her reputation on the line for this woman.

In the 90s, Bill Clinton was pandering to statist moralist when he scolded the fashion industry for pimping heroin chic.  Today, Barack Obama is siding with statist degenerates like Wintour (well, she must be a statist to sign on to his big government project).  It’s a shame that the sitting US President is relying on the good graces of the woman who’s been so evil to her own sex, and it’s a shame that the feminists don’t seem to mind.  On the other hand, what Wintour does with her magazine should not concern any President, so Clinton was also out of line.

We can blame fashion industry insiders all we want for the degenerate images they produce, but at the end it is we, the consumers, who keep feeding the beast.  We are the ones who made Wintour’s September 2008 issue a huge success, so we really have no one to blame.


  1. Do you really think Anna WIntour cares what people thinks about her? I don’t see that.

    Comment by Hepburn Hilton — June 11, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    • I think she does, and I think she had some vulnerable moments in The September Issue when she talked about her family being into the newspaper business and herself being just a a fashion editor.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 11, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

      • I agree thouse wore sincere moments, yet just because she cares about her family and doesn’t mean she cares about the general public’s opinion.

        Comment by Hepburn Hilton — June 11, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  2. “We can blame fashion industry insiders all we want for the degenerate images they produce, but at the end it is we, the consumers, who keep feeding the beast.”

    Great post, Missy, and a great conclusion. It could be applied to just about everything, as well: the federal gov’t, our schools, the degeneration of much pop culture . . . We feed a lot of beasts.


    Comment by nooneofanyimport — June 11, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  3. Excellent. I will have to share this, and make a post to link back of some sort. Great observations.

    Comment by mutnodjmet13 — June 11, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  4. This is a great post. Just something to add: I have noticed that today’s ideal woman’s figure is that of a long legged adolescent boy, ie, almost hipless, very small breasts. I was not aware, however, of Wintour’s effect on recent ideals. I never have thought that Kate Moss (even photoshopped) was that great looking… but I guess it has been all about heroin chic, eh?

    Comment by heathermc — June 12, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

    • I never found Moss all that attractive either, even if the pictures were airbrushed and she wasn’t doing anything particularly gross. She’s just not that good-looking.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — June 13, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  5. […] the confab got blogger-homie Edge of The Sandbox thinking about Ms. Wintour's place in the fashion […]

    Pingback by Because Fashion Is A Passion For The With-It And Hip — June 18, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  6. […] the confab got blogger-homie Edge of The Sandbox thinking about Ms. Wintour’s place in the fashion industry. [Anna] Wintour became the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue in 1988, […]

    Pingback by Because Fashion Is A Passion For The With-It And Hip « Blog de KingShamus — June 18, 2012 @ 9:03 am

  7. […] miscellaneous little errors pile up , like getting Joe Biden to campaign or having Vogue editor Anna Wintour record a campaign […]

    Pingback by Is Barack Obama Trying to Define a New Baseline of Support for Democrats? « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — July 30, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  8. […] I’m ready for a First Lady with bigger ambitions than to serve as a walking billboard for brown-nosing fashion industry insiders.  One problem with designers getting too cozy with politicians is that designers are typically nuts, and not in a good way.  Fox News reported that the notorious American Vogue editor Anna Wintour enlisted designers like Marc Jacobs to create Obama 2012 merchandize. There are many things wrong  with Marc Jacobs (and I don’t mean his bizarre style).  For instance, he knowingly hires underage models, the practice Anna Wintour pledged to stamp out. […]

    Pingback by Ann Romney for A Better J Crew Catalog « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — October 25, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

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