The science of signs. Semiotics
As explained by me in a “Dummies for Communication” type of way, what you see when you see a certain image, and then its initial meaning.
Every word and image has two aspects to it, and the relationship between signs and what they stand for is arbitrary (Turnbull, 2018), meaning someone out there has created an image or sign deciding exactly what it means,
The controversial thing about this is that not one person perceives an image just as the person who created it, and this is where ideologies may arise and interpretations of images or words may depend on what one knows or believes, but furthermore, complex images allow for a range of different emotions and opinions.
Vogue Magazine cover, March issue 2017.
Vogue magazine, a worldwide fashion phenomenon, or also a classic dance move.
Looking at the cover image, we see the obvious, 7 models, modeling clothes and celebrating women.
Going deeper, the text reads, “Women rule, Beauty revolution”.
Simply Vogue expressing the values of women, beauty in all shapes, skin colour and background, unified beauty across the globe.
But the more I looked at this image, the more things stood out to me, and to some extent they may be tiny non-problematic issues, but for a fact every person is entitled to their own opinion, and for me Vogue has managed to cleverly misrepresent exactly the type of diversity and clarity the world should be exposed too.
“Some questioning whether she was specifically instructed to cover up her leg, given the other models’ legs are in clear view.”
“There was also speculation model Gigi Hadid’s arm had been extended with Photoshop to cover Graham’s stomach.”
Yes, the cover featured 7 different beautiful women, each representing their own culture, background and diverse look.
But in terms of “Beauty in all forms”, and the “No norm”, Vogue decided to feature only one plus-sized model, ‘Ashley Graham’.
I start to question the amount of diversity really thought into this cover, and to add to the speculation, as ‘The New Daily magazine’, question the pose Ashley is seen in, as the arm of model ‘Gigi Hadid”, looks oddly longer, assumed to have been photo-shopped to cover Ashley’s stomach.
But also going back on to the topic of diversity, the image doesn’t necessarily interpret as much diversity as it can, especially for a multi-national magazine company like Vogue with over a million subscribers and social relations, but yet only one plus-sized model is featured, while the rest all mirror each other in body shape.
If Vogue states “No norm is the new norm”, why aren’t they making it clear enough with more representation of women, size 12 or size 16?
Featuring one plus-sized model amongst 5 ‘stereotypical models’ thin and tall, is that really enough? but it also just proves semiotics allows contrasting interpretations behind every image, word or text.
Guthrie, S 2017, ‘Plus-size model Ashley Graham defends Vogue cover’, ‘The New Daily’, 10 February, viewed 19 March, <https://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/style/2017/02/10/ashley-graham-vogue-cover/>
Turnbull, S 2018, Representation and Interpretation, University of Wollongong.