British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman has had her fair share of critique over the years, mostly for turning the Kate Moss' emaciated "heroin chic" image mainstream in the mid-1990s. With the rising danger of class A drugs and the equally dangerous rise of anorexia among young girls in the fashion industry and in developed countries around the world, putting rail-thin models on the cover and glamorizing the "pale skin, dark circles and jutting bones" look was not exactly a popular move, something Shulman was later quite willing to acknowledge.
As a result, it's hard to imagine that a high-powered journalist who works for the world's cutting-edge style Bible would rebuff cosmetic surgery and openly declare that the fashion and beauty industry's perpetual struggle to hold back time and promote an idealized image of a "timeless woman" is a losing battle. And yet, in a recent article published in UK's Daily Mail, Shulman admits that today's obsession with plastic surgery and perpetual youth and beauty - something Vogue magazine has been silently condoning for a long time - is an unachievable goal.
"My own position, as someone who edits Vogue and works in a world devoted to encouraging women to look good, is somewhat at odds with many of my peers", she writes, admitting that people are quite prejudiced against her personal views, which are shockingly different from the workplace ethics of ultimate style and beauty, and which many of us may be tempted to label as slightly hypocritical.
"While we can a do a great deal about the kind of clothes we wear, and the food we eat, and the holidays we take, and the color we paint our bathroom, we can't do a [...] thing about the fact that we are going to get older", she writes. "But while I might be choosing not to tinker around with my face, I am surrounded by those who do. And if I make that choice I have to live with the consequence - which might become increasingly difficult as I age. And others seemingly don't".
And yes, she has a point: we live in a world that's increasingly dominated by the belief that "having work done", that is, resorting to cosmetic surgery to improve our appearance and fit into a tightly controlled pattern of "modern beauty" (which Shulman the Vogue editor obviously condones) is as natural as watering a begonia or shopping for shoes. And if the Vogue UK editor is pulling alarm bells and telling us cosmetic surgery is over the top, we'd do well to listen. After all, she definitely knows what she's talking about.