A brave cover story of representation fighting the myth of youth
With its April 2023 issue, Vogue Philippines celebrates the beauty of humanity. Lately, fashion doesn’t provide such a momentum of passionate engagement and genuine enthusiasm. But finally, we can say: this is a cover story!
Indeed, this cover goes beyond fashion. Not only is it a story of representation, but also it is a powerful challenge to modern beauty standards and the cult of youth.
A centenarian is the cover story of Vogue Philippines!
Vogue Philippines’ April issue made history by featuring the oldest person ever on a cover. The woman, Apo Whang-Od – also known as Maria Oggay, is a 106-year-old tattoo artist from the Philippines. Specifically, she comes from the village of Buscalan – from the Kalinga tribe. And she is considered the oldest mambabatok. Batok is the traditional indigenous tattooing whose symbols signify strength, bravery and beauty. (Read her story here!)
“We believe that the concept of beauty needs to evolve, and include diverse and inclusive faces and forms. What we hope to speak about is the beauty of humanity” said Bea Valdes – Vogue Philippines editor-in-chief.
In our modern society, people are subjugated by the myth of youth, so ageing is considered a curse, something to fight as much as possible. In fact, most people invest in plastic surgery or less invasive techniques to keep their “forever young” illusion alive. But the results are quite sad.
However, this issue doesn’t relate to the fashion and beauty industries only. It’s a matter of culture. Because of patriarchy, men are allowed to age while women are not. Though men, too, enjoy plastic surgery a lot, there is a different posture towards men’s and women’s ageing. With age, men become interesting while women just get old.
Moreover, women struggle to fit into beauty standards because that’s what men expect from them: plastic dolls in tight-fitting clothes. Indeed, women accept the idea of how a woman should look based on a male perspective. And they do not even question it! Therefore, they are easy to manipulate.
The beauty of humanity: more than a cover of a fashion magazine
So this is more than a cover of a fashion magazine. This is a change maker. Because it is a story of representation as Whang-Od is one of the last practitioners of Batok tattooing. But also, it is an ode to ageism.
This woman is powerfully elegant. She is strong and soulful, proud and delicate. She is a pierce-through beauty!
And that is what we need to challenge modern beauty standards and embrace our life in all its stages.