Women & the Fashion Industry: Who Holds the Key to the Gilded Cage?

It’s a question that I’ve long since pondered but have never been able to answer on my own. Why is the fashion industry so unfair in its presentation of women when it is an industry run by and created for women (for the most part)?

The facts seem to be on my side. The highest paid model is style icon Giselle Bündchen who raked in an impressive $45 million from May 2011 to May 2012 while the current highest earning male model, Tyson Ballou doesn’t earn a figure anywhere close to Giselle’s income. Even just reading that paragraph, I’m sure 100% of readers knew who Giselle is but I’m sure only half of those readers could point out Tyson in a fashion magazine.

Co-creator of Vena Cava, Sophie Buhai, feels the same “…given that fashion, unlike film and art, is run by women, you’d think it’d be the one creative industry that champions women, but for some reason, most of the prominent artists are men,”
Arguably the most important fashion editor-in-chief, US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, is female, so what gives? Well, they are many complex factors. For one, the majority of notable fashion photographers are male (an interesting fact, considering the majority of art school grads are indeed female). Also, a large part of the fashion industry is hell bent on marketing itself based on people’s insecurities. Just think of any anti-ageing cream advertisement you’ve seen. The whole purpose of the ad is to make you feel that when a woman ages she is undesirable and therefore is irrelevant, but with the magical overpriced face cream you can become young and beautiful again and therefore be more desirable. Don’t get me wrong, men are not free from unfair gender expectations but overall they are less picked on in the fashion realm than women.

So, is anything being done to ameliorate the status of women in this industry? Yes, but it is a slow climb indeed. In spring of 2012, 19 editors of Vogue magazines around the world signed a pact stating that they would agree not to “… knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder”. One can see that the wording is flimsy at best and similar to most government treaties, it may prove to be a ‘tiger with no teeth’, BUT, it shows that the concern of the publication’s readers has become so great as to warrant a statement of sorts. Readers need to realize that they hold the true reins with these magazines as it is their purchasing power that keeps these institutions afloat. Plus sized women have created a phenomenal change in the industry with the rise of plus sized models and plus sized fashion brands. Makeup brand, Make Up Forever, has released unretouched makeup advertisements to show that their product truly works even without the aid of Photoshop. So may that be your beacon of hope readers! The industry has proven to be far more malleable then previously thought. Please comment below and share your thoughts! I’d love to hear everyone’s opinions on this issue.

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