BY FROMA HARROP
Michelle Obama made the cover of Vogue magazine three times. Hillary Clinton not only graced the cover in her first lady days but also, as the candidate running against Donald Trump in 2016, received the magazine’s first and [so far] only political endorsement.
Conspicuously missing is the current first lady, Melania Trump. She would seem a natural in that she’s a former model and a beauty. Her magnificent posture is an inspiration to us all.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour recently confronted Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour with the indisputable fact that far more Democratic women appear on her prized cover than their Republican sisters. Wintour neither denied nor apologized for that imbalance or the omission of Trump.
Wintour said choices for the cover tend to be women who are “icons and inspiring to women from a global perspective.” Like most of the fashion business, she regards Trump world with disgust, adding, “I don’t think it’s a moment not to take a stand.”
Is Vogue magazine being unfair in keeping Trump’s third bride off its cover? “Is it fair?” is not the right question. Vogue is a privately owned publication and can include or exclude anyone it chooses from its cover or inside pages.
[For the record, Barbara and Laura Bush both had profiles inside. I happen to think that Barbara Bush would have made for a glorious cover.]
There is also the business calculation. Knowing Vogue’s readership, one doesn’t imagine that an issue honoring someone so closely associated with Donald Trump on the cover would fly off the shelves. It would probably set off a blizzard of subscription cancellations.
I generally don’t have strong feelings for or against first ladies, but a magazine with a Trump on the cover for any reason other than affairs of state would be avoided. Lifestyle magazines, such as Vogue, are for relaxation and escape. Reminders that Trump is president are jarring, even after two years of him.
In olden days, Vogue’s cover was graced by a diverse group of northern Europeans – beauties with roots in countries ranging from England to Norway. Guess who had the most covers. Lauren Hutton with 26.
The magazine has moved in recent years to feature a more ethnically and racially diverse cover. That is a good thing. Another positive move was joining the healthy body initiative, which meant moving away from very young, horribly thin models.
But in its efforts to retain younger readers straying to Elle magazine, Vogue devalued its brand by putting the likes of Kim Kardashian, a professional vulgarian, on the cover. [I wouldn’t touch that issue, either.] Wintour’s stand that those chosen are “inspiring to women” sort of falls flat in the case of Kardashian, with her sexual exhibitionism, video tape included.
Melania Trump’s representative told Fox News that the first lady has “more important” things to do than fret about her absence from Vogue covers. Stephanie Grisham, recently chosen to replace Sarah Sanders as White House spokeswoman, went on to say, “This just further demonstrates how biased the fashion magazine industry is, and shows how insecure and small-minded Anna Wintour is.”
Of course, fashion publishing has the right to be as biased as it wants to be. And so does every other private-sector industry. Whether being so is bad for business is for the owners to decide.
Meanwhile, this blip of “bad” publicity from the White House is undeniably good publicity for Vogue.
So Wintour owes no one an explanation for keeping Trump off its covers. And if she wants to say she felt “honored” by Obama’s repeat presence or subtitle Clinton’s cover shot “The Extraordinary Hillary Clinton,” she can.
End of story.
– Froma Harrop’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer