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Five decades after the US Civil Rights Act, Vogue declares diversity is in fashion

Vogue/Mikael Jansson
Big smiles.
  • Jenni Avins
By Jenni Avins

senior lifestyle correspondent

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

In its 123 years, Vogue has generally perpetuated an image of American beauty that is thin, white, and heterosexual. Now, the fashion magazine of record has a new year’s resolution, according to editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s letter in the magazine’s upcoming January 2016 issue:

Vogue/David Sims
Vogue’s January 2016 issue, featuring Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.

“All of the many progressive societal changes that we have experienced recently are pointing us to a place of far greater inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity…” she wrote. “So instead of our typical January portfolio defining the new season’s direction, we decided to do something completely different this year, something that reflects not only the spring 2016 runways but the shifting times we live in.”

According to Mashable, a spread entitled “Be Yourself” in the magazine’s January issue highlights a far more diverse cast than one would typically expect to find in Vogue, including Beast of No Nation‘s Abraham Attah, tennis player Alizé Lim, Alabama Shakes’ singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, and transgender model and actress, Hari Nef.

Vogue/Mikael Jansson
Vogue, January 2016.

While Vogue can certainly set the agenda when it comes to fashion, in this case, the magazine seems rather to be catching up to a shift that’s already underway. In 2015, we saw Caitlyn Jenner cover Vanity Fair, Karly Loyce bring natural black hair to Celine’s catwalks and ads, and musician Beth Ditto close Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2016 show and launch a plus-size clothing line with Jean-Paul Gaultier. (That’s not to mention shows such as Empire, Master of None, and Transparent bringing greater diversity, of varying kinds, to mainstream entertainment.)

“It’s January, the start of a new year and start of 2016, an election year,” Mark Holgate, Vogue’s fashion news director, told Mashable. “It’s also coming off of seeing the spring 2016 collections. The strong message that came from them was that designers were embracing individuality and diversity with a strong point of view.”

Bravo to those designers for pushing a more progressive agenda—and to Vogue, for reflecting it in its pages. Let’s hope this not just a new year’s resolution that gets quickly dropped, but a shift in approach that sticks around for good.

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