Vogue comes out with the third video of the empower series and we are really hoping this is the last of the mix.
While the first video made no sense, the second one got it all wrong, and now, the third one aptly supports this trilogy of blunders. And here is why we think Vogue is completely off the mark and it is time to stop!
The campaign is elitist
Feminist movements have always been under the larger umbrella of human rights. History shows that feminist movements have always been inclusive and that is how they are meant to be. Hence, feminism for women of colour, feminism for Dalit women and LGBT rights are exceptionally important parts of feminist movements.
So, feminism is not just about privileged women. Unfortunately the Vogue Empower campaign focuses only on the tiny population of urban, upper class women. While the Deepika video tried to break that with the image of a regular old wrinkled woman, we know it was just a token. It was never about her! The campaign is busy trying to create mystery than really talking about the politics of gender inequality.
It alienates women who are not the target audience, and create a false sense of empowerment in women that are the TG. In this attempt to feel empowered, these campaigns conveniently forget the issues that several other women face that privileged women are not privy to in their everyday lives. We still have a wide range of issues related to women, from severe misogyny to sexism at corporate workplaces, so ‘my body; my choice‘ comes with a heavy privilege that most of women do not enjoy.
While the discrimination faced by urban women is also significant, a campaign on women empowerment cannot achieve its goal by just talking about sexual rights of privileged women. When a campaign focuses on an exclusive set of people, the solutions and lessons that are derived out of it are also restricted to this exclusive set. Even within the space of issues faced by urban women, there is no mention of working women, sexual harassment at workplace or discrimination at office spaces.
In one of Vogue’s articles, Frieda Pinto tells us the secret to glowing skin while traveling – water, water and more water. Unfortunately the places our women travel to do not have public bathrooms. Also, some women do not have the luxury of focusing on getting rid of the ‘baby bump.‘ So, probably it is time to dial down the elitism?
The double standards are hard to accept
Vogue India is a magazine that adds to the culture of promoting unrealistic body images of women. Its cover always has skinny women, and the models and artistes are expected to look a certain way. How exactly is Vogue empowering women when it is constantly sending messages of a certain standard of beauty instead of focusing on individuality and health?
With articles constantly selling some product or the other that helps women fit into societal standards of beauty, the magazine ensures that women measure their worth based on how they perform under the male gaze.
Even the wellness section talks about fab arms, ways to ‘shrink‘ and ‘younger’ looking hair! While Deepika talks about getting skinny for a wedding in 2 weeks, and Vogue having a history of photoshopped covers, being accepting of any size is just hogwash.
To prove this point further, the Vogue Empower campaign tied up with designers, who gave away one of their designs to raise funds for GiveIndia. And all the clothes are sized either S or XS.
In reality, Vogue is just making women into better consumers
“Most women’s magazines simply try to mould women into bigger and better consumers.” – Gloria Steinem
Every article in Vogue is peppered with the mention of a several products, which belong to big brands and cost big bucks. If the products were not enough, there is enough material to send a woman to a spa or a salon every day of her life.
Also, as part of the Empower campaign more than one brand has decided to launch an “Empower Collection”. In fact, The Body Shop decided to give 20% of its proceeds of Dragon Fruit Lip Butter to GiveIndia. It really gets as absurd as this.
It is inappropriate to piggy-back on a movement that is trying to bring attention to real issues
In recent times, it is a fad to sell to the empowered independent woman. Having clearly positioned itself as a magazine for women, Vogue also decided to use the feminist movement as a marketing tool. However, this just dilutes a movement that is trying hard to include everybody and focus on real world issues. These campaigns harm the purpose of feminism by saying things we don’t wish to say. The false sense of empowerment takes credit away from the real education feminists are trying to provide across the world.
The campaigns are structured in a way that focuses on who is speaking instead of what is being said. So, in the mix of great production value, big names and even bigger PR, the content goes completely wrong.
With an impeccably designed cover for the issue carrying the campaign, complete with perfect looking people, the magazine proves what it really is – it is just a fashion magazine that caters to the upper caste, upper class women. It is not a representation of the real world.
And who exactly is Deepika addressing in the video? Bargaining with patriarchy is definitely not feminist!
Featured Image Credit: Vogue India