Love Magazine – front cover controversy

Posted on: 12/02/2010

The Love Magazine cover

By Esther Privett

Love Magazine is the British bi-annual magazine launched at the beginning of last year. Its first cover was controversial for a fashion magazine; it pictured the Gossip singer, Beth Ditto, naked.  Katie Grand, the editor, obviously wanted to make a statement. And for this month’s issue she has done it again.

Love Magazine’s most recent cover, photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, has caused horror and outrage. However, to me the cover shoot is delightful. It isn’t like the Beth Ditto cover. That cover was supposed to shock. That cover put fashion, and industry that strives towards perfection, with obesity. That cover promoted an unhealthy lifestyle but from the opposite extreme. The new cover has come back to fashion, and at first glance doesn’t really shock at all. But then you look again.

The secret to the success of the new cover is that there are eight different versions. All of them feature naked women in black and white standing legs apart with their arms above their heads. The position is one of innocence and vulnerability.  They are exposed to the world in their natural form like new born babes, yet they have a power to their stance. The women are all models, as you’d expect of a fashion magazine, but when you look closely you can see their bodies are different. Katie Grand said “For this issue of Love, we took eight women who are generally acknowledged as the most beautiful in the world, got them to show off their bodies—widely regarded as the most perfect in the world.” We think of each of these individual women as perfect yet they are all different. This must mean that perfection alters, that it changes with people, and that there is no such thing as the absolute perfection. The tall angular ebony body of Naomi Campbell next to the big breasted ivory body of Lara Stone shows this. When you look at one cover on its own you think “wow, that is beautiful” but when you look at both together they become even more astonishing. As Katie Grand says “The point is that ‘perfection’ is not fixed, timeless, or transcendent. It varies.”These women show how perfection alters and transforms. 

Critics argue that all Love Magazine really does is promote thinness and make woman conscious of their own bodies. But that should not be the case. Why if someone is beautiful should we hide it simply to stop other people from feeling resentful? Beauty should be marvelled at rather than hidden away from envious eyes. Just because most people could not paint the smiling Mona Lisa it doesn’t mean that we should not marvel at it. Beauty is there to indulge us. I suppose Love Magazine didn’t help themselves by printing the women’s measurements. However, all this proves is that the women are different shapes. The 5ft 8inches Amber Valletta is still beautiful next to the Amazonian 5ft 11inches Daria Werbowy. And though Love Magazine only showed tall slender woman it’s not really a huge deal for a fashion magazine.

In an article by Erin Donnelly she writes “Um, it’s been awhile since we’ve been to the optician but looks to us that those measurements are skinny, skinny, skinny, skinny, skinny, skinny and skinny. Oh, and then there’s that so-called heifer Lara “Dumptruck” Stone.”I think she’s missing the point. Even though all these women are slender they are still different. The point is that on first glance all the covers look the same. Love Magazine is not trying to represent everyday bodies; it is trying to expose the body of a fashion model. Anyway, even if Love Magazine had wanted to use more ‘realistic’ bodies would they have been able to? Tall, slender, models are paid to have their pictures taken naked. Would a rounder beautiful actress have agreed to strip right off and stand in such a revealing pose? It is hard to know. What Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta, Lara Stone, Natalia Vodianova, Daria Werbowy, Jeneil Williams and Kristen McMenamy have in common is not their bodies but their occupations. The fashion magazine has found beautiful models to show the world.

Love Magazine does not feature the only controversial fashion shoot. Often the most beautiful fashion photographs are the ones which people get irate about. Take, for example, Steven Meisel’s “Make Love Not War” from 2007 Italian Vogue. This notorious fashion shoot was said to promote war and make rape glamorous. Meisel placed fashion with the horrors of war and a mixture of smiling and weeping women amidst hedonistic soldiers. The women were sprawled across soldiers, breasts exposed. The pictures are exquisite and the emotions of the women are captured in a glamorous way, which seems to portray war as brilliant and sexy. They are superb whilst being horrifyingly graphic.

 Naturally some people are offended by these extreme photographs; the very nature of the subject, photographed with such passion and creativity can cause people to be embarrassed and outraged. Like the Love Magazine models they show something that we don’t want to be beautiful. Glorifying war, making rape sexy, and the people that do it wonderful and compassionate is against our very morals. But placing a gruesome circumstance with an expression of bliss is doing nothing eccentric or new. “Make Love Not War” plunged an ancient subject for art into a modern context. In ancient Greece the walls displayed paintings of the rape of Persephone and viewers were not appalled. Her naked skin in his muscular arms enhanced the event; it made it romantic and appealing even though it was such a hideous episode.

When people complain that Meisel has glamorised war and made rape desirable they may be right, but they have not considered how much it has made them think. Meisel has been extremely influential. He has reflected on war and created a series of photographs that have changed the way people view war. Katie Grand did the same. She is not trying to say that all beautiful women are thin. She is making us think about the subtle differences between these beautiful women. Love Magazine simply exposes eight model’s bodies as vulnerable, diverse, and wonderful. They may be some of the more slender women but that doesn’t mean they should be dismissed. Rather than be angry we should be awe struck, admiring, adoring. Ashley Smith once said “Life is full of beauty. Notice it.” 

What do you think about the cover and article? Add your comments below.


2 Responses to "Love Magazine – front cover controversy"

Love Magazine’s most recent cover, photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, has caused horror and outrage.

Where, exactly?

I completely agree with the author, a very entertaining article 🙂

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