Even if you take just a quick glance at Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine and Robyn Lawley on the June issue of Vogue Italia, you can tell that these women are not the typical gazelle-slender models. Lynn is a size 16; Huffine is a 12; Lawley is a 14. Three plus-size models, on the fashiony-est fashion magazine in the world.
According to Runway Revolution, it's been ten years since Vogue Italia featured a model over (US) size 8 on the cover (namely, Sophie Dahl). But Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani — who also created the "all black" issue of the magazine, came up with the concept of the "Vogue Black" and "Vogue Curvy" websites (and masterminded that oil spill photo shoot) — has shown she is eager to embrace diversity.
These models are not complete unknowns. Tara Lynn was previously on the cover of French Elle; Candice Huffine was in the V size issue; and Robyn Lawley was on the cover of French Elle as well as in an H&M campaign. Still, placing them front and center on a major fashion magazine will certainly boost their visibility.
However: Not everyone is pleased about the cover. Chicology's Lauren Caruso writes,
I know I should be happy to see these women confidently posed on a major cover, but perhaps dedicating an entire issue to the matter is a slightly off-putting move by Sozzani, as it only draws attention to the fact that they're different. When it's no longer bizarre to see a plus-sized model posing next to [size 4 model] Abbey Lee or even [size 4 model] Lara [Stone], who's known for a different sort of curvy, we'll see some marker of progress. The editor-in-chief even recently launched the anti-thinspo campaign in conjunction with the debut of a 'curvy' section on the vogue.it site. Sounds a little separate but equal to me, no?
In addition, it's worth noting that these ladies are not wearing very much in the way of actual clothing, and are posed alongside plates of food. Interesting dress code at that restaurant! The fantasy — that these lush, voluptuous, good-time girls don't give a shit about calories — taps into our collective idea about women who enjoy life, a modern take on a Rubeneque Bacchanal. But you know, photographing plus-size models half-naked — as we have mentioned before — sexualizes and fetishizes the flesh in a way that straight-size models don't always have to deal with. Seems like we're getting to a place where straight-size models are hired to wear clothes and plus-size models are hired to take them off. And the food? It's as though the magazine is saying, "Chubby bitches love to eat, amirite?"
But when it comes down to it, these are minor quibbles. "Belle Vere" means beautiful truth. And the truth is, it's a beautiful image, of three beautiful women, and its existence gets us excited about magazines, something American Vogue never manages to pull off.
Vogue Italia June 2011 — "Belle Vere" [Runway Revolution]
Belle Vere [Models.com]
Why We're Not Happy About 'Vogue' Italia Going Plus Size [Chicology]