While Anna Wintour was in Tokyo to promote Tokyo’s Fashion’s Night Out, she addressed some controversy that followed an editorial in Japanese Vogue that featured Japan’s minister of government, Renho, in one of Japan’s parliament buildings. Apparently Renho took flak from lawmakers over the location of the shoot. She told the Wall Street Journal:
When women are in positions of power, and they’re featured in a women’s magazine like Vogue…they tend to be incredibly unfairly criticized. It’s an incredibly old-fashioned approach. Just because you’re in a position of power, and you look good and you enjoy fashion — does that mean you’re an idiot, or that it’s not seemly to be in a woman’s magazine? If a man is in GQ, they don’t get the same kind of criticism.
Our first reaction? Yes, right on Anna! It’s true–why should women be viewed as less serious or powerful or good at their jobs just because they look good doing them?
But then we considered the women in power that Vogue chooses to profile in its pages: Queen Rania of Jordan; First Lady Michelle Obama; controversially, Asma al-Assad, the First Lady of Syria; Sarah Palin. They’re all really pretty.
“It’s complicated,” said Jessica Grose, editor of Slate’s women’s blog DoubleX. “Women should definitely not be diminished for appearing in Vogue but that still doesn’t erase the fact that there are huge expectations on the way they look in a way that powerful men don’t get.”
“No, a woman shouldn’t be criticized for enjoying fashion and also being powerful,” Grose said. “But there’s a reason why Anna Wintour chose to photograph Sarah Palin and Kathleen Sebilius for a piece on women in politics–they’re also attractive.”
What’s your take on this issue? Does Vogue only feature powerful women in its pages if they look “Vogue” enough? What woman in power would you like to see in the pages of Vogue?