Allure Editor Celebrates 20 Years Of Homogenized Beauty Standards

Illustration for article titled Allure Editor Celebrates 20 Years Of Homogenized Beauty Standards

Twenty years ago this month, Allure editor Linda Wells founded the magazine that we credit with teaching us how to shower and how to rub sunscreen on our bodies. So, how is she marking this auspicious occasion? With an outdated defense of uniformly thin models!


After explaining to The New York Times that the magazine's art direction is supposed to look "messy and scrappy," Wells provides this gem:

"I don't want to photograph skinny models," she said, "but they're always going to be thinner than everyone else. They're models. We recently shot Bar Refaeli, who's more of a Victoria's Secret kind of model, for the April issue, and she's a woman with a body. She's got curves. She's got thighs."

Yeah, what's Wells supposed to do to promote greater diversity in the modeling industry? It's not like she's the editor of one of the largest women's magazines in the country! If it were up to her she'd totally feature more "plus-size" models — she loves curves! (As long as they don't exceed the usual proportions of a Victoria's Secret model.)

Wells' love for Rubenesque figures dates back to a life drawing class she took in college:

"I hated it when the model was thin," she said. "There's nothing to wrap your hands around. When the model was heavy, there was shape, there was shadow, there was weight."

She informs The Times that more recently, at New York Academy of Art's annual Take Home a Nude benefit, she purchased a sketch by the sculptor Gaston Lachaise, who's famous for his "zaftig bronzes." Wells says:

"Beauty is the most difficult thing to describe ... I hate to sound like Pollyanna, but it does come down to being such an expression of confidence, and a definition of the self. And there she is, standing there, claiming her physicality. There's something so immediate about it..."


We don't really expect anything better from the woman who once admitted the anti-aging products her magazine recommends don't actually work. But if you're wondering why it's taking editors so long to embrace models of all sizes, just look at Wells. To her, "size diversity" means occasionally poo-pooing slim women's bodies and praising a typically-sized model with a slightly larger bust line, rather than giving all women the opportunity to "claim their physicality" in the pages of her magazine.


Where Beauty Meets Substance [NYT]

Earlier: How To Take A Shower
July Allure: Sexy Has Never Been So Complicated
Allure Editor Defends Pushing Beauty Products That Don't Work



I am still amazed a void exists whereby an entire magazine can be filled with beauty products and techniques, month after month, for 20 years. Is there a new crop of women who don't know how to apply shadow every single month? Are they all 11 years old. Who prefers to be p.r.-ed into buying certain beauty products under the guise of "editor-tested"? I can see how they might have made it through the 80s and 90s, but thes days all you have to do is Google a product and read reviews to see if it is worth the price.