Return to Normalcy: Models on Magazines

I don’t want to say that print journalism is dying, but it has certainly suffered a shift in orientation over the past decade or so. As digital media draws an increasing market share of consumers away from paper-and-ink publications, magazines have resorted to featuring a revolving door of actresses and singers as cover models in an effort to capitalize on their celebrity and increase circulation. Don’t get me wrong; I love movies, I love music, I love the creative minds behind movies and music, and I am prone to the occasional gossip rag indulgence. However, (most) actresses and musicians are not models (as an exception to the rule, I will continue to love Diane Kruger 5eva).

It’s pretty common for people to romanticize whatever decade in which they grew up and made the formative memories of their childhoods. However, I think my love of the 90’s hits a deep, throbbing vein more intensely than the mere memories of an idealized youth viewed in hindsight.  My love of the 90’s hinges on the existence of superheros, or shall I say, supermodels.

Naomi, Claudia, Linda, Kate, Christy and Niki–models of the 90s were identifiable by only first names in virtually every household. Unimaginably beautiful and incomparably good at their jobs, these waifs and amazons, these titans of the multi-billion dollar fashion industry were angels in my eyes.

Then actresses began cropping up on women’s magazine covers. What? Why??? No one wins. It only results in increased competition and overwhelming expectations for everyone. Even spectacularly talented actresses can suffer insurmountable career blows for not being model-thin and camera-ready at all times. Conversely, instead of being eligible for 12 monthly covers per magazine per year, models may only be featured on a couple of spreads. Every actress is expected to model, and every model must jump a higher hurdle to create and foster her personal brand.  The price of admission to participate in the industry keeps rising.

In general, I (and others like me) have been suffering fatigue of an over-saturated celebrity market. It all feels like the same old, same old. I haven’t been excited for a magazine–even a September issue–in a couple years. I don’t want to see 30 different covers of Taylor Swift  and Zooey Deschanel staring back at me when I’m checking out at the supermarket; their ilk has been so overexposed on the media market that I don’t think there’s anything new for me to glean.

So imagine my delight when I saw cover images of model Joan Smalls on ELLE for January 2014, hot on the heels of Cara Delevingne’s VOGUE Australia cover. Could it be? Are magazine honchos and marketing think tanks finally realizing that a dedicated niche of fashion and beauty enthusiasts have grown tired of their celebrity-shilling? I can only hope these are the first ripples of a resurging wave of models modeling for print media. Bring back the 90s zeitgeist of model veneration!


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