Forces For Change
The September 2019 issue of British Vogue stood out to me on the newsstand as a result of the monochrome and iridescent cover of extraordinary women. The stark juxtaposition of the vivid orange typography was also a deliberate design decision to make an impact on the viewer.
Before picking up the edition, I did not realise that it was guest edited by the Duchess of Sussex, who together with Vogue posed the question of, ‘What changes do you want to see in the world?’ to 15 women with 15 unique causes. The one common theme throughout all of the answers was their individual ambition and hope for the planet and people.
All of the photographs of the women are black and white which adds a level of vulnerability to the spreads. This as well as the minimally styled images, suggest that the editor wanted to ensure that the focus was majorly on their actions for change, despite the contrast in scale between the text and imagery.
I really feel that the aim for the article is to fill the reader with a sense of strength and belief in the power of a collective. It was also amazing to see and hear from such a diverse selection of women, all with different stories to tell. Vogue is almost kicking the door open to the previously forgotten; visibility has the opportunity to create a platform to be transferred into change. The women are all aspirational and I was pleased that they was a great transparency regarding complex areas, whether it is female empowerment, privilege, mental health, race, etc. It shed a bright light on issues that a large proportion of the population would shy away from talking about.
I must admit that I was not really aware of some of the women before reading the article, however I now have such an appreciation for the ambition, commitment and not forgetting their bravery for their openness. They all seem to be doing what they can for those people who will not necessarily ever get the exposure or media attention that these women can harness.
Jameela Jamil is someone who I have admired for a while for her body positivity advocation and her support in general of all women. I Weigh is her digital campaign against diet culture and I love how this cause focuses on encouraging individuals to recognise their own self-worth. Greta Thunberg I also feel is an inspiration for many and a great advocate for young people’s beliefs and activism. She is a student who aims to change the way we look at climate change and the ecological crisis. Usually young people do not have a strong voice when it comes to systematic change but Greta has changed this triumphantly for the better. The school strikes this year were in my opinion extraordinary and showed the knowledge that young people today have, thanks to strong women like Greta. The younger generation, including myself, are realising that there is certainly something worth fight for...an optimistic and secure future.
All of these females together are changing the debate, no matter what their action for change is. Although I only mention two of the 15 women, all really do show an amazing level of sensitivity and encouragement for others, encouraging everyone to make a positive difference, no matter how big or small. They were not afraid to share their difficulties in getting where they are today, which is again very reassuring for the audience; some things need fighting for.
What I admired the most about the execution of the issue was the mirrored blank square on the front cover, designed to encourage and inspire readers to use their own platform to make a difference. I feel that it encourages people just to try, whether it be supporting someone else or simply thinking about what one would idealistically change given the platform. It also gave me some hope that among the uncertainty and pessimism of today’s society, there are change-makers who will have a positive impact in the world today by focusing on values.
Furthermore, this article was largely complemented by A Note from the Beach extract by Matt Haig:
“Why do humans worry so much about a stranger’s opinion?…Allow yourself just to be as you are. Just be.”
This quote, in my opinion, encapsulates the main message of the issue, drive forward by being true to oneself and use this power to encourage change. A change of mindset is so important; as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, we don’t “need to be extraordinary to be admirable.”
“I hope...kindness and compassion can be powerful and strong.” - Jacina Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.