Italian 'Vogue' touts different side of beauty

The fashion industry often is criticized for its singular portrayal of women: long-limbed, scary skinny, perennially adolescent, and, say some, overwhelmingly "white."

The fashion industry often is criticized for its singular portrayal of women: long-limbed, scary skinny, perennially adolescent, and, say some, overwhelmingly "white."

The July issue of Italian Vogue hit European newsstands last week with all black models. Some are familiar faces - Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell - while others are more known to fashionistas, like Pat Cleveland. The photographer, Steven Meisel, speaking on the fashion industry as a whole, told The New York Times, "I thought, it's ridiculous, this discrimination."

Indeed it is ridiculous. This is an industry where entire demographics of women are largely excluded from shows and magazines for being too "different," yet the clothes on the runway routinely laud their uniqueness and even celebrate the obscure. In a Viktor & Rolf fashion show not so long ago, a dress shaped like a bed paraded down the catwalk.

Some progress on the skinny issue seems to have been made. Last year, France and Spain set weight standards for models and that discussion continues today, so Vogue gets kudos for taking a lead on race, despite the token criticism it received for singling out black models.

Diversity has to start somewhere. Vogue, the world's fashion handbook, is a great place to begin. The title will hold its position in the fashion forefront if it keeps recognizing beauty wherever it might reside.

PR Play rating:
1. Clueless
2. Ill-advised
3. On the right track
4. Savvy
5. Ingenious

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