Hot on the heels of making a pledge to be "ambassadors for the message of healthy body image," Vogue has made its June issue the Olympic edition, complete with Olympians on its cover. Sounds great, right? You might think this is a great chance to showcase the bodies of these athletes in action, to prove that powerful, athletic bodies are beautiful and worth aspiring to. Just kidding, this is obviously a time to dress the lady athletes up in fashionable outfits and a time to stick a model awkwardly into shots with a bunch of ripped male athletes. Oh, Vogue, never change.
The cover is the most obvious place to start, and it turns out you can pretty much judge this magazine by its cover. It features a shot of swimmer Ryan Lochte in a swimsuit, accompanied by two fellow Olympians, Serena Williams and Hope Solo. They're wearing gold one-pieces, and they're jogging arm in arm with Lochte on the sand. Some have called the shot highly reminiscent of Baywatch. Lochte is only the fourth man in Vogue history to grace the cover, and how sweet of them to give him some arm candy to celebrate with.
While the Olympians share cover space, the male and female athletes are each given their own features. The men's article is called "Country Strong" (gag!), and the accompanying photos by Annie Liebovitz are legitimately terrible. Apparently the men weren't high fashion enough on their own, so they threw in model Karlie Kloss to spice things up a bit? Yes, because nothing makes a better hurdle than a woman in a silver evening gown. WTF? In the slideshow online, the men are seen performing some move from whatever sport they play, and then they have another gratuitous shot where they're just casually standing there showing off their bodies next to a supermodel in a crazy gown. You know, totally normal athlete behavior.
The ladies get their own feature with the promising title, "Wonder Women." It profiles five athletes, but as the Vancouver Observer points out, only one of the accompanying photos shows a woman doing the sport she's headed to London for: Sprinter Carmelita Jeter is seen running alongside a train. Gymnast Alexandra Raisman, however, is seeing leaping on a beach in feathered wings, which is at least a slightly athletic pose, I guess. But Hope Solo is in what looks like a cheerleader's outfit playing with a gigantic soccer ball above her head, and swimmer Missy Franklin is just standing there in a swimsuit. Syndey Leroux, also a soccer player, isn't even showing her face or most of her body in her main shot—instead it's a shot of her pulling up her shirt to reveal her giant back tattoo and her short shorts are showing off most of her ass. What does that have to do with soccer? Not much, but it sure is sexxxy.
Not only are the majority of these women not showing off their athletic prowess, they're also not wearing anything that resembles the clothes they compete in. Unless, of course, gymnasts are tumbling in wings this year and we haven't gotten the memo. Obviously this is a fashion magazine, and they're going to style it up a bit. But in the men's feature they're all in athletic gear. Is that not good enough for the female Olympians? You can't help feeling like they did these ladies a disservice by confining them to cheerleader outfits and angel wings. These are some of the most elite female athletes in the world. Their bodies are perfectly honed machines capable of great things. So why not show us what they look like in action instead of having them stand at the edge of the pool? Or don't women look beautiful and stylish enough when they're exerting their power? Come on.
Vogue's June issue botches effort to show women as serious athletes [Vancouver Observer]