IT’S THE season of fashiongasm.
When the fashion magazines prove the worthiness of still having some things in print to see, maybe even read. Vogue excels above the others in the fashion mag battle this year, but not because Jennifer Lawrence is on the cover. It’s because Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, “Mogul, Mother, Lightning Rod,” is interviewed, then posed for a photo shoot that sucked up all the oxygen and left the rest behind. The encore is President Obama’s formidable national security advisor Susan Rice, crowned “The Comeback Queen.”
Oh, and did I mention Senator Wendy Davis is also interviewed in September’s Vogue? (D’oh! …no, I didn’t, but I have now.)
The Yahoo! CEO has not only revived the tech giant’s brand, but done it amid giving birth, changing work-at-home policies, then topped it off by accepting Vogue‘s invitation to audaciously reveal that a woman taking power can also handle glam. Beauty, poise and style aren’t impediments to power for the privileged femmes who make it to the top. Even those below her economic rung, women who have crafted a spot to step out on our own terms, which not all women have the luxury of doing, should use all we’ve got while getting all we want and not hiding who we are while doing it.
This is another one of those #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen moments, because there’s not a woman of color on any of the top fashion mag covers.
If you missed the Twitter conversation over it see Storify, as well as the Guardian article by Mikki Kendall who started the hashtag and calls out bloggers at Jezebel, Feministe, Jezebel, Pandagon, singling out Jill Filipovic, Jessica Coen, Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte for aiding and abetting Hugo Schwyzer. His Twitter confession started #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and is why I wrote about his public implosion. This issue is why I’ve covered reproductive rights beyond the partisan point, because poor women that include whites, but especially those of color, are being cut out of access, which is obviously a subject of its own we talk about around here a lot, taking it global as well, as I did in my book (…and I didn’t forget to give a nod to Shirley Chisholm either). Why Rachel Jeantel was the focus of a very long read column I did, as the media and public audiences feasted off of her for sport.
The conversation has to be wide enough to embrace the importance when any woman rises in power and dares to break out in her own way, because it doesn’t happen that often for any of us. For feminist audacity, Marissa Mayer stands next to many, but most recently Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg who raised the roof with her book Lean In.
That women of color stepping out weren’t included on the fashion mag covers is pretty extraordinary given the accomplished beauties from which to choose, starting with Kerry Washington who just graced Vanity Fair‘s cover and became the first African American female up for an Emmy since Cicely Tyson, in 1995. That Washington’s Scandal fashion was good enough to make the fashiongasm fall publications goes without saying.
Let’s not forget Oprah Winfrey –as if we could– who’s having a dream August with her phenomenal Lindsay Lohan interview, The Butler, and her September O cover all about hair, which if you saw the fashion and hair in The Butler likely kicked it off. I can’t be the only one who is inspired by September to consider new hair options, whether it’s a cut, color or some sort of splash of highlights for the fall season.
The stir Marissa Mayer caused through her Vogue photo shoot took the conversation where women are still uncomfortable to go. The display of beauty and style provocatively flaunted by a CEO when women down the economic food chain don’t have the freedom or the luxury to do the same. A time when women are still fighting for equal pay, while Republicans still won’t acknowledge that laws are required to enforce equity. Missing in the conversation and put on display for all to see quite unapologetically is that Marissa Mayer must not let what others can’t do affect her decision to break down corporate expectations that women have to dress, act and respond in the public arena like men. It’s another way women can command, through fashion.
It’s one area where men just cannot compete.
If you watch “Suits” on USA, it’s the same attitude you see through the female characters. A natural for the fashion mag covers would have been Gina Torres, who is Cuban. She’s the voom in Va-Va…. Ms. Torres doesn’t so much wear fashion on the show as a statement, but as an ever changing super bitch cape.
Fashion is a way to wrap the body we wear on earth in a way that reveals who we are as we walk our journey. It is a physical billboard. No matter how badly we feel or how down you get, there’s always a chance to drag some favorite piece of fabric out of the closet or drawer, slap on some war paint, then walk into the world to carve your space. A costume when times are bad and a reminder that the tape in your head can be shut off for a moment when the right outfit takes you beyond mind-numbing thoughts.
It’s not easy being Marissa Mayer. White, privileged, successful and beautifully artful splayed across Vogue‘s inner pages. Yet people are worrying that it makes women in power look unserious, as if there wasn’t work involved in the rise that now looks effortless. Being labeled unserious is not something Ms. Mayer is concerned about and that’s precisely why many women don’t get it. 99% of the women in America have to obsess about everything she’s stepped beyond.
Think Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, but for the 21st century.
Women’s power in action is absolutely a form of art. On that score, Vogue nailed it.
This post has been updated.