Following the release of Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire's Vogue shoot and profile, critics were quick to call out the prime minister and his wife for appearing in the women's magazine.
The critiques ranged from Grégoire-Trudeau donning a non-Canadian designer for the photo to Vogue referring to Canada's Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould as "Native American" (the post has since been corrected by Vogue).
Obviously Justin & Sophie Trudeau have nothing better to do than dress up in Oscar de la Renta and pose for Vogue.— Charlene Desrochers (@char_lawyer) December 9, 2015
The underlying tone here seems to be that the renowned fashion glossy isn't an appropriate place for a political leader (especially a Canadian one) to be profiled and featured.
In his blog on Canoe, political reporter David Akin writes, "My take is that even if you are Justin Trudeau's biggest fan — heck, if you are Justin Trudeau's children — the prose in Vogue may make you gag a bit.
"If you're a Canadian politics junkie, a profile of your prime minister in, of all places, Vogue, seems like must-see TV to me!" he continues.
The Ottawa Citizen's Glen McGregor seemed particularly horrified by it, tweeting quips such as "He is our prime minister. He wasn't elected to be a spokesmodel" and "Vogue is using the Trudeaus' popularity to flog $5,600 dresses made by a French designer. That's not his job." (Ed. note: Oscar de la Renta was a Dominican American and the label's current designer, Peter Copping, is British.)
He even went as far as to say that Vogue was a poor choice for Sophie, who is an advocate for raising awareness on eating disorders after battling the illness herself.
Also: If Sophie G-T is concerned about eating disorders affecting young women... Vogue?— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) December 9, 2015
Social columnist Shinan Govani — who wrote a profile of Justin Trudeau published in Vanity Fair last year — was quick to call-out the critics, saying they are "heads-in-sand" on Twitter, as Vogue coverage is a big deal.
Trudeau Vogue critics are heads-in-sand: everyone from Aung San Suu Kyi to Roger Federer has been covered there. It's a big deal. #cdnpoli— shinan govani (@shinangovani) December 9, 2015
And others agree, including Twitter's Kirstine Stewart, CBC's Matt Galloway, Chatelaine's Sarah Boesveld and the Toronto Star's Heather Mallick.
@shinangovani frankly, it's quite fitting it be Vogue, & telling that those who feel a magazine appealing to women's issues isn't "worthy".— Kirstine Stewart (@kirstinestewart) December 10, 2015
Have spent my career being assessed on my appearance. So leave Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau alone, we women are fed up with this nonsense.— Heather Mallick (@HeatherMallick) December 10, 2015
Here's the thing: a variety of news outlets are featuring Trudeau, including New York Times Magazine, so why should a women's fashion magazine be scrutinized for doing the same?
An article on The Hairpin (shared by Chatelaine's Boesveld in a tweet above), touches on the lack of respect and credibility women's magazines seem to experience.
"I think there’s an assumption — it’s so easily dismissed," the post quotes ELLE's editor-in-chief, Roberta Myers, from her interview in WWD. "We’re all lumped into the same category, but my reading is not the same as Good Housekeeping’s millions and millions of readers. It’s a different woman. Women are not all the same — even in our little slice of fashion. I think they [women’s magazines] are here for a while. I think fashion magazines have been shown to have longevity."
But this lack of seriousness associated with women's magazines (especially those branded as "fashion magazines") is unwarranted. Just look at Vogue's recent feature, "Climate Warriors" highlighting 14 women on the front line of climate change — not to mention American author and literary journalist, Joan Didion, once appearing on the magazine's masthead as associate feature editor (her essay "Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power" was first published in Vogue in 1961 before being republished as "On Self-Respect" in her 1968 collection, Slouching Towards Bethlehem) and Nelson Mandela guest editing an issue of Vogue Paris in 1993.
As for McGregor's issue with Sophie in Vogue due to the fashion industry's "impossible body standards on women," we say seeing a woman who has been very vocal about dealing with an eating disorder in Vogue is refreshing, and could serve as an important space for Grégoire-Trudeau to share her platform in the future.
Given that our prime minister has previously said he is "proud to be a feminist" — and has notably appointed a gender-balanced cabinet — appearing in a magazine geared toward women seems like a good choice.
And at the end of the day, there are far more important issues to be critically addressed than our prime minister in Vogue.
One of our colleagues at The Huffington Post Canada says it best:
Criticizing Trudeau over childcare and appearing in Vogue is not only sexist, it weakens your future criticism when he actually deserves it.— Joshua Ostroff (@joshuaostroff) December 10, 2015
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