As of their March 2017 issues, all of the so-called “Big 4” magazines–American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue Paris and Vogue Italia–have featured model and social media starlet Gigi Hadid on their covers not once, but twice each. The 21-year-old graces American Vogue’s March 2017 issue alongside Liu Wen, Ashley Graham, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah, Vittoria Ceretti and fellow social media starlet Kendall Jenner.
While it is no secret that our social media-obsessed world favors younger, trendier models like Gigi Hadid over the aloof models of yesteryear, many critics question whether it’s hard work or sheer nepotism that lands a gal on the cover of the most well-known fashion magazine in the industry.
Hadid caused quite a buzz when she debuted a super slender physique in preparation for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show late last year. The SoCal-native has always been in fantastic physical shape (she played volleyball for 12 years growing up), but Hadid’s figure went from athletic to ultra thin in the few short years it took her to become a household name.
Although some remain skeptical about Hadid’s weight loss methods, she credits her killer body to daily boxing workouts and an overall healthy lifestyle that includes clean eating (and the occasional cheeseburger to “stay sane”), according to Daily Mail. This may be a sign the girl-next-door beauty is taking her career as a model more seriously than she may have in the past.
However, Vogue’s March cover still raises concerns that the publication (and the media in general) favors clicks, views and sales over quality content and real diversity. The cover stars, half of whom are arguably celebrities more so than they are models, take the place of veterans who made a name for themselves in the modeling industry without the help of social media.
Adriana Lima and Snejana Onopka both have three total “Big 4” covers each, and Magdalena Frackowiak has just one “Big 4” cover. At just 21-years-old Hadid has an astonishing eight “Big 4” covers.
Sure, social media starlets like Hadid and Jenner are quote-unquote good for magazines; with this younger generation of models on its cover, Vogue will undoubtedly receive a ton of buzz and maintain its relevancy (not to mention, it will also attract a younger generation of readers). But, are the younger cover girls as talented as the veteran models? And, do It girls like Hadid and Jenner truly have a place in high fashion alongside the likes of Liu Wen?
Something can definitely be said for the amount of fans these social media starlets have. Hadid has 29.4 million followers on Instagram, and Jenner has a shocking 74.1 million—they gained a cult following and have millions of fans who are eager to buy any publication with their faces on it. On the other hand, 29-year-old Wen has a mere 2.5 million followers on Instagram and does not typically cause excitement among the mainstream media and social media when she appears on magazine covers or runways.
Marketability among It girls could possibly be attributed to their overall likability. While her work has surely improved, Hadid still is not the strongest, most talented model out there. But, she does have a positive attitude and more relatable lifestyle than most traditional models seem to have. Though Hadid may be the daughter of a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, she attended public high school and admits to eating cheeseburgers, after all.
To put it plainly, veteran models seem inaccessible and standoffish; Hadid and co., by comparison, are down-to-earth, friendly and more realistic.
Hadid’s likable, relatable personality may be what landed her a spot on Love Magazine’s 2016 advent calendar. While Hadid’s short by Dan Jackson went live on the 24th day (Christmas Eve), her younger sister Bella’s turned heads on the first day (December 1, 2016). Other young It girls, including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, filled the days in between; veterans like Alessandra Ambrosio and Heidi Klum appeared sparingly.
Although Hadid struts her stuff in a skimpy fishnet bikini, its neon pink color comes off as youthful and nonthreatening, and the mirror selfies she takes for the camera are something to which most of her fans can relate, despite the fact that they happen in one of New York City’s most popular hotels.
Similarly, the array of seven models on Vogue’s March cover sport tight black tops and bold hot pants–but, their diverse features and soft smiles attract readers who may be scared off by a more artistic, unapproachable cover on newsstands. To bring in more readers Vogue.com supplements this issue with an online beauty article featuring quickie interviews from five of the cover stars on what makes them feel beautiful.
Sultry beauty Ashley Graham, the striking Liu Wen, fresh-faced Adwoa Aboah, green-eyed Vittoria Ceretti and the fierce Imaan Hammam all share their favorite beauty products with Vogue.com readers, while Hadid and Jenner remain absent from the article entirely, save for the featured photo.
This article–published February 12–may be Vogue’s response to the outpouring of upset readers who insist the March 2017 cover is not as diverse as it claims to be. Yes, it includes models from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds, as well as one plus-size model, but Hadid and Jenner–who are, for lack of a better term, conventionally attractive–appear front and center.
“None of the models featured were ‘darker than a paper bag,'” Cosmopolitan adds in its February 9 reaction to the cover, which is ironic given the issue’s theme: “Modern American Woman.”
In an attempt to appease angry readers and reengage the mature audience that it isolated, Vogue.com quickly constructed an article celebrating the beauty of the five more sophisticated cover models.