Last night I went to my first Back Fence PDX—Portland's version of the Moth, jam-packed with witty, captivating stories told without notes by (mostly) local storytellers—and absolutely loved it. One of the six storytellers was Cheryl Strayed, wonderful Portland author who recently released the bestselling memoir Wild, who shared her experience working with Vogue.
Vogue wanted to release a snippet of Wild prior to its release, alongside a full-length photo of Strayed. At first overwhelmed by being photographed by this glossy magazine filled with emaciated models, she tried the "Vogue Diet," or the "try not to eat anything diet." No dice. Then, recalling that the February issue was dubbed "The Power Issue," she scratched the idea of remaking herself for a magazine. They picked her for who she was—a powerful, independent woman who hiked the majority of the Pacific Crest Trail solo to find herself. Plus, she said "Vogue makes everyone beautiful."
After an ego-boosting photo shoot in Portland, Strayed was feeling pretty great. Until she picked up the issue. The woman inside looked like a polished, creepy Barbie doll: Photoshop had somehow whittled away her legs, given her a bigger bust, and smoothed out her face to the point of being completely unrecognizable. She didn't buy the issue.
Here's the finished product (below the jump):
While Strayed has now since moved on from the insulting manipulation, thanks to a self-esteem and level head, this move speaks to the stagnant world of the mainstream magazine industry. Lesson learned: "Power" issue or not, Vogue will still make any beautiful woman look like a piece of crap.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!