How very white of you.

I used to have a subscription to Vanity Fair.  This was from way back—in high school—when I was still mystified by New York nightlife and how a real metro city functioned, not the mid-west metro of Cleveland, OH.

I loved seeing the busyness of social events, trying to name the participants before I had to look to the boxed number of names at the bottom of the page.  I loved Dunne, Hitchens, Leibovitz and Wolcott; I tried to imagine any one of them as the Dorothy Parker of my generation.

Over the years, I have let my subscription come and go, renewing when I realized I was picking it up at the drug store, which I tended to do when the Hollywood issues started to come out in the 90s.



I love the Hollywood issues.  Not only are they beautifully photographed; they usually introduce me to someone new, cutting edge, up-and-coming, someone that is just a little left of the indie scene that they make look just fantastic enough that I want to know who they are.




Imagine my surprise when this year’s issue was released this morning.  The cover text reads, “A New Decade, A New Hollywood! 2010.”  So apparently, this is what the brilliant minds at Vanity Fair think is A New Decade of Hollywood.  Notice anything that might just be a bit problematic?


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8 thoughts on “How very white of you.

  1. JoJo Vinick says:

    OK, I’m so confused by there. It’s a new decade and they are showing us all skinny white actresses. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot. First off, as much as I hate to pull the “President” card, we live in a country with a Black President, so if the White House and D.C. can accept someone who is not white (and I do mean white because those girls are scarily pale), then why can’t Hollywood? I mean, the truth is, Hollywood isn’t the problem, more the editors at Vanity Fair. I’m with you, Michele, I LOVE the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue – it’s the only one I buy every year. The photos are beautiful and edgy and I just look forward to flipping through the pages, but your observation is completely on point. If you look at the issues of the past, VF has beautiful Black, Hispanic, Asian and simply tanned Caucasian women AND men. SO where are they men? That’s my question. I mean I know people would be a lot more horrified if there were all men on the cover and no women, but the fact remains that there are some fantastic actors out there that deserve a spot on the cover alongside these featured women. It seems strange to me – I just looked back on the past covers you posted and it seems they had a scaling down of men on the covers. Is this due to the readers? Do women (who are the vast majority of subscribers and readers of this magazine) not want t read about fantastic new actors? I highly doubt that. I mean, I am proud of my gender, but I’m much prouder to be human so I would have to say that I would be proud to read about women AND men.

  2. sth2391 says:

    I mean you said it yourself- who can resist the stunning photography of Vanity Fair? However, I have to agree that the last two photos are just so pathetic and disagreeable. Where’s the diversity in these photos? All I see is white, white, and white– white woman wearing light, faded out colors. Oh and what do you know? The background is sunny and in the other photo, the background is… white. These pictures really just don’t do it for me and I mean personally, the cover is so important. Integrating different races and men, especially, will render a bigger audience. How is this magazine supposed to draw attention to the general public if the front page cover looks like any ordinary photo taken? I mean c’mon! Bring back that edgy, mysterious cover that makes you beg for more. What a disappointment to the start of “A New Decade.”

  3. Antonia Rutter says:

    Vanity Fair has always been a magazine I love and always try to pick up. Love the pictures, love the cover story, love the random stories inside. Its always interesting and seemingly credible, but what is this? There is more diversity on the first tier of Saga than in this picture. Even as a media and society major, I only recognize three of the nine pale and thin ladies featured (the crabby Twilight girl, the girl who was in Mean Girls, and the girl from Up in the Air) and to be honest, Im not really that impressed with those girls. Maybe if I could put a name to the faces I would be able to recognize more of them, but this lack of gender, age or race difference seems almost deliberate. I know she was blue in the film, but what about Zoe Saldana? The lead actress in Avatar? Shes not under 25 or white, but she is female and thin- so I think they could have thrown her in the picture. She did an amazing job in that film and can do more than just cry when a boy breaks up with them on screen, which seems to be a common theme with the others acting abilities.

  4. Daphney says:

    Zoe Kravitz, Gabourey Sidibe,Freida Pinto, and of course Zoe Saldana–four women of color that I think on the top of my head that deserves that issue more than four of the women on the cover that are not on the cover.

    As an aspiring fashion editor, this does not surprise me at all. It’s always the same skinny, white actress or songstress on the cover. I’ve even noticed that the actress and songstress tend to be skinny, white and blond when it comes to the September issues of a magazine (September issues are usually the most read).
    The reason: this image sell covers. Except magazines aren’t selling anyways.

    I am a fan of Emma stone, and Kristen Stewart, and I think Evan Rachel Wood is going to some day win an academy award, but I don’t think they deserved that cover. If Emma Stone is still not the next big thing in Hollywood after 2 Vanity Fair spots, I don’t think a third one is going to help her, Kristen Stewart is already a big deal, and Evan Rachel Wood, is already establishes, and like I said, she is going to win an academy award someday.
    (by the way, Abbie Cornish has no upcoming projects for 2010)

    I’m not saying that Vanity Fair should have put women of color on the cover, just for the sake of a more diverse cover.

    BUT just when I’m about to completely blame vanity fair, I can’t help but think of the movie industry. It’s not really known for its support of young actors and actresses of color.

  5. Courtney O'Brien says:

    I am not much of a magazine person and I have a hard time keeping up with the latest news on various actors and actresses. However, occasionally I do like to look at certain magazines and I would have to say that I do love Vanity Fair. I am always so intrigued by the elegant look that is being portrayed by the models in the photographs. However, I do have to agree with you, Michele. You have a very good point. To be completely honest, I am getting tired of the same type of person being portrayed over and over again, as if we have never seen the typical white, thin, American woman. I am a woman and I am white, but frankly I am sick of this same image being displayed over and over. The last two photographs in your blog post show nothing to me. They are plain, simple, and boring. I see nothing unique about them. I like to see different figures with different skin colors and I would also like to see both men and women portrayed in these photos. Yes, the photos do appear to be elegant and beautiful, however they are so repetitive. These are the pages that I tend to skip through. People often wonder how I know so little about the celeb world and basically this is the answer. We always see the same women portrayed in magazines, online, in newspapers and on television. To me, this becomes so repetitive and boring. This is exactly what I see in these photos and it is not impressive.
    These magazines should be including the rest of the men and women; where are they? There is no life in these photos. Are world is much bigger than 10 famous white, thin, American women. So my question is, where are the rest of them? After comparing the first photos that you posted to the last two, it was almost as if they were from completely different magazines. Although they were from different times, I feel as though they should like slightly similar. To me, they look completely different.

  6. Torie Solomon says:

    I remember when Vanity Fair did a similar shoot, maybe about 5 or 6 years ago. I was reading it on the plane with my mother and she was commenting that she didn’t recognize one of the faces on the cover. Yet I knew every single one. They were all young stars like Hilary Duff, Olsen twins, Amanda Bynes, ect, (and again an entirely Caucasian cover.) Its funny how a magazine that is thought of as exuding class and this sense of luxury was more relevant to a 16 year old than to my mother who had been reading the magazine for years. With so many magazines out it feels as if even Vanity Fair has succumbed to the print what will sell the most copies mentality (aka a half naked Miley Cyrus) and in turn has sacrificed some of the beautiful photography it is so famous for.

  7. cs5647 says:

    I have to say, that I rarely read magazines. Sometimes I will buy a magazine and look at the pictures and when I do, I look and see all of the people that I don’t know in Hollywood (which is quite a lot I might add). I do not follow the celebrity scene much, but upon viewing these pictures as a sequence, I do not view much racial diversity as a whole, and even less in this years Hollywood edition of Vanity Fair. It is a shame that other races were not represented. African Americans and Asians that had been represented to some extent in previous editions (though not by many people) are not present in this years preview of the new generation of Hollywood. So does this mean that it is only going to be white people in Hollywood? I don’t think so.

    A question that I have is why would they choose so many young, skinny, white girls. There has to be more to Hollywood of importance than these figures. Another observable change is that the women in the new decade of Hollywood seem much younger than those women in the previous pictures. I know that they were trying to represent the new generation of stars but couldn’t they find other people outside of this age range, or sex for that matter. In previous years they also included men. Based from this analysis of the future of Hollywood, the stars will all look the same and all be females? Looking at Hollywood in the past (not that I know much about it), I would have to say that this has not been the case and will not be the case in the future. To improve the accuracy of the magazine’s predictions as well as the number of people reading Vanity Fair, I believe they should have incorporated people besides for young white women. Because of this action, more people would see the cover of the magazine because they would associate with the people to a greater extent.

  8. csnizzy says:

    The title of this article is what caught my attention. My freshman seminar was titled Seeing Whiteness and focused on the white race. We studied issues like this which examined what is considered beauty. What we consider beautiful is basically what we see in magazines such as Vogue or Vanity Fair. All of these images have beauty in common. The beauty perceived in these pictures are fair skinned, skinny, tall, nice hair, and a pretty face. This is what our society perceives to be beautiful.

    I like how the title is represented with pictures of the layout of Vanity Fair. Without using many words, you got your point across of showing whiteness. There are no plus sized models and only a few colored models in these pictures. These layouts seem to be the foundation of beauty and fashion. I disagree with this because there is much more to beauty than pale skin and a skinny form, and there is much more to beauty than what can be seen in a photograph in a magazine.

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