When you think of Vogue, you think of high fashion, runway shows and expensive dresses. When you think of Kim Kardashian, you think of trashy TV, questionable sex tapes and tight-fitting bandage dresses. But now the two have joined together, as Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, made the decision to feature Kardashian and her fiance/baby daddy Kanye West on the April cover.
While plenty of people are acting disgusted about the cover choice, among them the former vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kardashian is actually a more fitting choice for the cover of Vogue than many recent cover models.
Social media has given disgruntled Vogue readers a platform on which to express their views and opinions. The Facebook page for the magazine is full of unhappy comments from readers, including suggestions that Wintour is being held hostage in a closet by Kim's mom, Kris Jenner. Someone has even taken the time to put together an online petition calling for a boycott of the magazine. At the time of writing, the petition has 957 signatures and is aiming for 1,000. It's not clear what the creator of the petition will do once there are enough signatures.
People who are angry with Wintour for putting Kimye on the cover are missing the point completely. The identity of Vogue's cover models has changed greatly over the years. Before Wintour's reign as editor, the cover was reserved for supermodels or women whose job it was to wear clothing for a living.
Wintour's been no stranger to controversy when it comes to who she puts on the cover. It was she who made the move away from using models exclusively, starting in the 1980s and 1990s. By the start of the 21st century, the cover spot usually featured an actress or other non-fashion figure, the Washington Post reports. The cover spot has also gone to other influential women that you wouldn't usually think of when you think Vogue, such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. Current first lady Michelle Obama has landed on the cover twice, but she's pretty much become a fashion icon in her own right.
While a woman's role in fashion has become less important for landing on the magazine's cover, what hasn't become less important is a woman's role in the culture and the impact she is having on society, which might be what is so upsetting to people about Kardashian's appearance. People can hardly argue that Kardashian is a role model. But at this point in time, her impact on the culture can't be ignored or denied.
Admittedly, people aren't very happy with Kardashian's beau, Kanye West. The rapper has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth or of completely disregarding the feelings everyone else around him when he speaks. He got plenty of people worked up when he dissed Taylor Swift a few years ago. He got even more people worked up when he told Ryan Seacrest that his fiancee deserved the cover spot, not Michelle Obama, back in April of last year. His point was that Kim is more fashion-focused and influential than Mrs. Obama.
But the Vogue cover is no longer about that. It's clearly less about fashion and more about who's influencing the zeitgeist. For example, no one would think of writer and actor Lena Dunham as a fashion influencer. When she appears at awards shows, Dunham's dresses leave many scratching their heads. Yet, when she landed the cover spot in February, no one blinked an eye. (Though they did raise a fuss about photoshopping. Clearly, Dunham wasn't photographed with an actual pigeon on her actual head.)
The focus of many of the anti-Kardashian complaints is on the star's lurid past. She rose to fame because she had sex on tape. Her family stars in a reality show and she and her sisters design clothing for the rather low-rent department store Sears.
But Kim herself has changed a lot over the years. Part of the reason for her metamorphosis from Herve Leger bandage dress-wearing reality star to a pants suit or pencil skirt-wearing reality star is the influence of Kanye West. He cleaned out her closet and bought her a new wardrobe. He's helped her geta seat inthe front row of various fashion shows and got her invited to the Met gala last year.
Kim's gone from sleazy to high fashion over the course of a few years, and she wouldn't have done so without the help of West.
It's not so much Kim herself that's offensive to the nay-sayers. It's how she got to where she is. Instead of developing a talent for acting or modeling or an eye for design, she's relied on the work of others to get her there.On the other hand,the Kim Kardashian way is in some ways the American way—let others do the hard work so that the person at the top benefits. People might not want to admit it, but by putting Kardashian on the cover, Wintour is capturing a distinctive moment in American culture.