Then, on Monday, my friend Corbin (Times journalist and brother-from-another-mother) texted me. "Girl. Discuss. Is this how HB translates diversity?" Finally, after months of anticipation for what exactly Candice was hinting at, it was revealed. I excitedly clicked through the link Corbin sent me.
The first image I landed upon was breathtaking. Scarlett Johannson, golden, windswept, confident. I continued through the list; the women were short and tall, slim and wide, adolescent and middle aged and distinguished and greyed, dark and light and yellow and brown, they were artists and academy award nominated actors and musicians and models, from petite to plus. And, almost all of 19 images presented beautiful, aspirational, inspiring fashion - befitting of Harper's Bazaar, and the September Issue, and a team anchored by Carine Roitfeld and Karl Lagerfeld.
|CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Liya Kebede, Linn Arvidsson, Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Ondria Hardin, China Machado, Soo Joo Park, Candice Huffine, Ashleigh Good, Xiao Wen, Erika Ervin, Grimes, Zoe Kravitz, Karen Elson, Lily Donaldson, Liberty Ross, Kenya Kinski, Gabourey Sidibe, Chiharu Okunugi, Tilda Lindstam, Lisa Verberght, Angel Haze & Chrishell Stubbs|
The look isn't avant garde. It's not couture. It's not inspired. Could they really not find a decent pair of shoes for her to wear? (Note to future stylists, Net-a-Porter carries nearly all their amazing heels up to a size 12; at this very moment, there are 229 styles to choose from, should fit be an issue). For even more big feet and wide with options, there's also BarefootTess. Seriously, what the hell are these shoes doing in this spread? What it feels like, is an afterthought. Take the clothes off and Gabby looks striking. She's strong, confident - even this truly sad outfit can't overpower that. But the clothes are just.... so, so bad when looked at alongside the rest of the feature. Harper's Bazaar didn't enlist some no-name, amateur stylist to take a hand at this. This is the September Issue, and this is Carine Roitfeld. Carine Roitfeld of French Vogue. Carine Roitfeld of Barney's New York. Carine Roitfeld of CR Fashion Book. Carine Roitfeld of every best dressed list and street style photographer's holy grail. She's an icon, a fashion tour de force, and apparently, not interested in even trying to put a great look together for an inspiring, talented, and rubenesque woman like Gabourey Sidibe. Why not use her bevvy of resources to source inspiring looks from an emerging, independent plus size designer? Why not tap into a designer like Christian Siriano for a custom garment, when Gabby has been seated front row at his shows in the past? If they intended to keep it all high end, why not go with a runway look from Marina Rinaldi, Max Mara's super luxe plus division? Or a red-carpet worthy piece from Tadashi Shoji? Or Lafayette 148? I wonder if it would have been better to leave off Gabourey entirely, rather than include a half-assed attempt at styling when the other looks are so solid. In a story like this, the looks should be consistently thought out, manicured, inspired, and even aspirational... Would it have been better if Carine and Harper's Bazaar didn't broach the "challenge" of a full-figured woman at all? Would we then be screaming at the lack of body diversity? Or is it better that they tried (well, sort of) but did nothing impressive with their immense opportunity to wow their audience? I'm a first generation American of Iranian descent. I'm a lesbian. I'm Jewish. I hover solidly around a size 16. I know that diversity comes in many flavors, and colors, and aesthetics. Working in the fashion industry, I also see how I am handled and treated by my peers, (it's not always sunshine and rainbows - or more aptly, sequins and tulle). I know what it feels like to look at the media and feel like there's no one who looks like you, or whom you can relate to. I know how much I appreciate it when, in fact, there's someone out there who does look like me, but for the love of god - don't use that starvation as an opportunity to treat a woman, her body, her identity, as a novelty. All images copyright of Harper's Bazaar. To take a closer look at the feature, click here.