This month’s Vogue titled ‘Team USA‘ and photographed by Annie Leibovitz is one of the most inspiring fashion magazines I have read. The cover depicts swimmer Ryan Lochte, tennis champion Serena Williams, and soccer goalie Hope Solo running down the beach arm in arm. Each athlete radiates wellness, happiness, strength, and natural beauty.
The fashion industry is finally putting the waif in the past and making room for a wider variety of healthy humans to grace the pages of their magazines. Anna Wintour dedicates the magazine to the athletes of the 2012 London Olympics and the fashion industry’s new Health Initiative, “which was created to encourage everyone in this country who works in fashion—editors, designers, photographers, and casting directors alike—to share the responsibility of fostering a climate of where a vital and healthy physique is lauded and encouraged.” It is a breath of fresh air to see the fashion industry embrace this new vision and incredible group of Olympians.
The physical prowess, beauty, discipline, dedication, and passion of the athletes jumps off the pages of the magazine. Bruce Weber photographed an array of athletes: gymnast, Alexandra Raisman (“Wonder Woman” ) on the beach mid-leap in the air with ivory wings attached to her arms, track & field star, Carmelita Jeter racing a train and horse (“Built For Speed”), soccer players Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux (“Eyes On The Ball” ) playfully holding up a giant soccer ball (I love Leroux’s tattoo of her and her mother walking by a tree surrounded by butterflies with the words “you believed in me first” underneath them) and swimmer Melissa Franklin (“Touch The Sky”) gracefully outstretching her arms against a backdrop of sky and clouds.
The Annie Leibovitz male spread is stunning but less interesting to me because every photograph includes one or two of the athletes in motion with model, Karlie Kloss, lustfully positioned as a temptress decked out in haute couture. Kloss undermines Wintour’s message implying that a man must always have a woman and well, I guess only a model is okay? Why not put the male and female athletes together? Nonetheless Leibovitz captures the incredible musculature of gymnast Jonathan Horton nailing a handstand on the parallel bars, the power of Track & Field star Ashton Eaton, and the grace and serenity of swimmer Ryan Lochte. There is no doubt that one form of beauty lies in the fabulous athletic body.