Meghan Markle made the latest edition of British Vogue fly off the shelves. It’s the fastest-selling issue in the magazine’s history . Instead of Markle, the cover she guest-edited features 15 influential women who she believes are changing the world.
And there’s one final spot coated in reflective, mirror-like material to suggest that you, the British Vogue reader, are also a female trailblazer and changemaker.
Time Magazine already did this in 2006 , with a reflective computer monitor on the cover. That year’s Time Person of The Year was “You.”
It was a pretentious nod to narcissism.
Markle apparently couldn’t help likewise pandering to her now-former subjects.
While her British Vogue cover became a smash hit, Markle took a victory lap with the magazine’s editor in chief. They published a behind-the-scenes video on her Instagram page. It features Markle and Vogue’s editor calling all the cover models and congratulating them on being forces for change.
You wanted to focus on women who are changing the world. Women who are doing incredible things. Which really is in line with what we do at British Vogue.
And she replies:
Yes, and then having the mirror. Anyone no matter who they are picking up this issue should be able to see themselves in it. And that’s what I feel really proud that we accomplished.
But women who see themselves in the company of the others on the cover will think they have to be an actor, politician, or activist to change the world.
Markle had sixteen spots and didn’t put a single female scientist, engineer, or business executive.
The female forces for change who grace Markle’s cover include six actors, three models, three activists, a prime minister, an author, and a boxer.
Nearly all the actors and models are also activists.
This sends a terrible message. It’s an extremely narrow conception of how a woman can be a force for change in the world. For all its perceived feminism, it basically reinforces gender roles.
Not to take away from or trivialize the accomplishments of the women who made the cover. But why didn’t Meghan Markle put a female computer coder on there? Or inventor? Or CEO? Doctor? Astronaut?
I’m not saying any of the women on the cover don’t deserve the accolade. But could we also show a profession that requires some math skills? If your daughter aces her differential calculus exams and learns how to code C++ and Python , she can conquer the world.
Meghan Markle could have included Safra Katz, the CEO of Oracle, or Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. She could have included Christina Koch, the NASA astronaut who just logged the longest spaceflight by a woman in history .
She could have included Barbara Liskov, the Turing Award-winning MIT professor of computer science . Or Tamar Nachmany, an iOS app developer and e-commerce platform engineer . She says :
Technologists are deeply optimistic… the tech communities in which I take part are full of people who ask themselves, ‘What can I make? How can I help?’ They really believe change is possible.
Now that’s a message your daughter’s never going to read in Vogue.