The problem with Vogue UK's educational film

Miranda Kerr in a shoot for Vogue UK. Image via

Miranda Kerr in a shoot for Vogue UK. Image via

If I told you that Vogue was going to school kids in classrooms, you might raise an eyebrow, right? Well, it's happening with Vogue UK coming out with a lesson plan, which includes a film and teacher’s notes, designed to do just that.

As part of the magazine’s Health Initiative, the education package will be sent to high schools across the UK, specifically targeting 15- to 16-year-old girls. Editor of British Vogue Alexandra Shulman says the lesson is intended to give students an in-depth understanding of the process that goes into creating magazine editorials, in the hopes that it will encourage a healthier approach to body image.

“The problem, if there is a problem, comes when people judge themselves and their appearance against the models they see on the pages of a magazine and then feel that in some way they fall short,” she says.

The lesson kicks off with a short film titled It’s A Look, featuring interviews with the many professionals who lend a hand in image creation – from fashion directors and photographers, to make-up artists and models. "I decided it might be helpful to show what goes into the creation of a Vogue fashion picture, as a way of illustrating the skill and artifice that makes the final product,” says Shulman.


Though Schulman ought to be commended for being one of the only editors in Vogue’s history to address issues regarding body image, speaking out on size zero culture and publicly asking designers why their sample sizes are so small, we’re not entirely convinced her latest effort will do anything to shift perceptions.

That’s because the whole premise for making the film is flawed, that is, why does the problem lie with the public’s perception – and not the magazine itself? Why must we be the ones to change the way we approach and view editorials, while Vogue can continue to push its damaging agenda with unrealistic photo spreads?

Even if you’re adept to what goes on behind the scenes (as most of us are), when the media is saturated with images of size-zero models in whitewashed campaigns, it’s hard not to internalise these images. And impressionable teens are particularly vulnerable to doing so.

Vogue may position itself as escapist entertainment that’s purely aspirational, but it nevertheless continues to promote an impossible beauty standard, which ultimately affects our conceptions of our own bodies. As Holly Baxter comments in the Guardian UK,

“Ultimately, it [the film] is a massive disclaimer so that her [Shulman’s] magazine can keep on producing exactly what it has done all along.”

We can’t help but think a better solution would be to diversify the images presented in the magazine in the first place. Surely, hiring models from different backgrounds who closer reflect reality, and not photoshopping them to an inch of their lives, would do more good than yet another pretentious fashion film?