There’s something a bit off about British Vogue‘s latest cover shoot, which features Gigi and Bella Hadid. But what could it be? Oh! Perhaps it’s the part where these siblings are curled up on the floor, totally naked?! Yes, yes, that’s definitely it.
We don’t think it’s prudish to find a highly sexualized photo of two sisters a tad problematic—and don’t get it twisted, with its nods to lesbianism and incest, it is highly sexualized. Proof: according to a 2016 report by porn site PornHub (yes, we know… stay with us), the most-searched term in all American states was “lesbian,” followed closely by “stepmom” and “stepsister.” Clearly, the world’s—or at least America’s—porn supply is heavily skewed toward young women fucking one another, and if those women appear to be related, it’s just an especially titillating bonus.
And yes, we know this is *British* Vogue, but for the record, it’s likely that these interests transcend America. In their 2011 book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam analyzed a wide swatch of the internet (“a billion web searches, a million Web sites, a million erotic videos, a million erotic stories, millions of personal ads, and tens of thousands of digitized romance novels,” according to their site) and found enough commonality in global porn habits to make general statements about sexual desire. Their findings? “People search for and spend money and time on 20 sexual interests, which account for 80% of all porn. The top five are youth, gays, [sexy mothers], breasts and cheating wives,” Ogas said in a Time Q&A.
But this isn’t about what privately turns people on, which actually matters very little in the grand scheme of things. It’s about visually referencing an exploitative medium in a high-fashion photo shoot. And it’s about the fact that these are female siblings. Can you honestly imagine a pedigreed publication like Vogue publishing a shoot like this… but featuring male siblings? (Cole and Dylan Sprouse, where you at?!)
If you just chuckled a little just now, it’s because you know it would never happen.
This is just the latest disappointment from #NewVogue and its EIC, Edward Enninful. After a v. strong start, British Vogue seems to be foundering in its mission to champion diversity and appeal to savvy, woke millennial readers, at least when it comes to Enninful’s cover choices. His debut issue, which featured model Adwoa Aboah and a chic vintage aesthetic, was followed by more of the same old, same old: Taylor Swift in moody makeup and a red gown for the January issue, and for February, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman. (This duo was featured on a cover that proclaimed it was celebrating “Hollywood’s new era”—and most of the celebs mentioned in the coverline are white.)
But as we thought we’d demonstrated with our excitement for his choice of Aboah—and Condé Nast‘s choice of Enninful—”more of the same” is actually the last thing we want from our fashion mags.
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