19 Words Vogue Could Be Using Better

I initially published this article without a preface. That was a mistake. I have no doubt immense work went into these issues. God only knows how many jobs Vogue creates and sustains. As much as I would welcome it, I do not have a front row seat to this office every day — not to control, but perhaps simply to witness how these decisions happen.

That being said, what I do see is a disaster. Many, many people see Vogue as a tight tower, brick by brick laid with absolute faith that this is right, the work is good, the day is valuable. But I’m not so sure. What is that tower standing on? What’s beneath it 10 inches, 10 feet, 10,000 feet? Where is it going? What is it building up to? Is it straight, is it curved, is it leaning? The intentionality behind each issue and the system each issue perpetuates is not the focus of this article (such larger vision, however, is discussed here). For now, I am only shedding light on one of the variables I have determined to be unstable, and that is the language.

Overall, what I hear as I’m reading this issue is an welcome prodding. I feel a cool wind of disapproval. I even taste a rough respect. This is not how a magazine should be and despite the planning, the research and the sweat that went into picking just the right cover girl or shooting just the right picture, the written message and the tone behind them still echo in readers hearts and minds. I’m not particularly fond of towers, I prefer the street. And yet, my perspective matters only so much here; neither my background nor who I am is as important as each reader’s autonomy to decide whether these words are being used well here or not. That’s on you.

19. Shape

Like “curvy”, this seems like a hard one to get right. In this particular instance, are you talking about the shape of a garment or of a body? Is there really such a thing as a shape of a season, in either case? Do you suggest all garments we wear, every day, for all of spring, be long and lean? Or do you suggest we make ourselves long and lean? As far as I’ve checked, it’s not news that you’d want us to be that shape — if that is in fact what you mean. (April, Vogue, cover)

18. Secrets

If you’re sharing it on the cover of a magazine, it was probably never really a secret to begin with. That’s a buzz word. Sometimes “tip” works, or just say “6 Super Models Share Their Workouts”. Judging by how boring that sounds, you might want to reconsider the level of detail that went into reporting this, given that I still don’t know what they actually do. A better story would be, “We worked out with 6 super models. New moves outfits and snacks on page 217.” (April, Vogue, cover)

17. Hanging Out

Hanging out is not news — unless it’s with Angela Merkel or Pope Francis. Hanging out with a gaggle of models and pop stars must be something like scrolling through their Instagram feed and gaining pretty much everything you’d need to know about their spare time. This might not be a word to ban everywhere in a magazine — but it’s certainly not news worthy or cover worthy. Give us more. (April, Vogue, cover)

16. It Girl

I don’t care if they’re big or “mini”. Enough with the popularity contest. You’re a magazine. I’m going to invest in you because you have news, not because you can crown someone with your approval. If a person is interesting, simply prove it to me. The portrait of Lennox (p.152-154) is successful, and now I am more interested in her. This particular toddler, however, doesn’t qualify. In general, beware of the term “it girl” because the implied incandescent charm is usually frivolous, fleeting and just a fantasy. (April, Vogue, p.64)

15. Enlist

You never have been, nor ever will be, in the army. Why is this verb so overused? If you did actual investigative journalism, it will come through without the plastic camohelmets. (April, Vogue, p.64)

14. Winningest

I completely forgot that fashion had nothing to do with freedom, individuality or self expression and had everything to do with stalking “trends” so that you become an MVP of it-look cultivation. Is there, in fact, one outfit that makes you most vogue of all? Of course, my bad. …[chortle] …Winningest? Are you for real? Can you also please show me a picture of the “judges?” This I’ve gotta see. (April, Vogue, p.98)

13. Perfect

Is it her “porcelain beauty”, “Anglo-Saxon lineage” or movie star husband that makes Sophie Hunter so perfect to you, Ms. Wintour? These are your words, not hers and not her husbands. The worst thing in the world you can do to a woman, let alone a bride, is call her perfect because it brings back the pedestal and obscures our vision on the real woman. “Perfect” erases the humanity, the scars, the sweat and the self-sacrifice that makes everyone (including you) brutally imperfect. Never once will I believe Sophie Hunter is perfect because, although I’ve never met her, I can gain that her awesome and vibrant humanity requires neither Photoshop nor hyperbole. (April, Vogue, p.108)

12. Miraculously

Miraculous? That Justin Bieber is (according to you) now popular again is miraculous? You didn’t think that maybe a “miraculous rising” description during the same month as Easter would be just a tad inappropriate? People have miraculous resurrections probably more often than we might think, in hospitals, rehab centers, and other unseen places where great good is lost on the collective news media. I believe miracles do happen, but when they happen it is a life changing, ground breaking event. A fall in Twitter followers and then a climb back up again does not qualify as either a resurrection or a miracle. If you use the phrase “miraculously rising again” in an articles introduction, you are setting a very high bar for the article itself and, of course, for the subject. Does Bieber’s narrative actually qualify? (April,Vogue, p.130)

11. Effortless

I’m not sure I want (or expect) anything great in life to be effortless. Even if I’ve mastered something, I am still working very hard while doing it successfully. Lose this idea. It connotes ambivalent naiveté. (March, Vogue, cover)

10. Unstoppable

Super heroes belong in storybooks. They’re hard to come by in real life, but when you do it’s something special. Let’s not become numb to the difference between Nelson Mandela (for example) and Taylor Swift. KK and TS actually are fragile, finite and vulnerable to the same stumbles we all are. Hiding this only diminishes the fact that their moments of strength are well earned. (March, Vogue, cover)

9. Unforgettable

I’m a little bored. I assume most safaris are unforgettable. What was so special about this one? You have the chance to make your case later in the actual article, but for now more specific language should inform us in the TOC. (March, Vogue, p.92)

8. Angelic

Angels? Over it. Humans? Sure, try me. After Lane Bryant’s inspiring lingerie campaign #ImNoAngel I think people everywhere are starting to see that the image of an angel isn’t half as important as the substance of one. By that I mean, looking like a Victoria’s Secret model isn’t as important as choosing moderation or acting for peace. We don’t have to look like or be like angels — freedom should trump all celestial comparison. (March, Vogue, p.212)

7. Prerequisites

As you are not the college registrar, offer no degrees and certainly can accomplish nothing more important than excellent journalism, I will assume that you did not just imply that I am required to look the way you want me to look for an entire season. Nothing is required but that, as I am the reader, you serve me the truth. (March,Vogue, p.250)

6. Dream

I find it highly unlikely that TS and KK have the friendship of my dreams. Different people want different things in friendship. There are all kinds of friends. Why do you have to introduce an aspirational hierarchy between “us” and “them”? It would be much more interesting if you used the word dream in reference to the science of what happens when you are asleep. Or, perhaps, to the work the goes into achieving goals. Chances are what they each want out of the relationship has evolved more than once. And that’s ok. (March, Vogue, p.212)

5. Pretty

I want to be strong. I want to be wise. I want to free. I don’t care about being pretty. Don’t make me over. Don’t prance me around. Just give me journalism — in print and online. (March, Vogue, p.250

4. Transformative

The only “transformative glow” I can think of is that (scientifically proven) one from pregnancy. Otherwise, transforming is not the business of a magazine. It is the business of life. This does not flow from an editor, an intern, or a model. Life flows from stories, both literary and imagistic. Excellent journalism is the only pathway you can carve for our transformation — everything else is just a touch-up. (March, Vogue, p.448)

3. A-List

Everybody has a different definition of what it means to be A-List, Hollywood’s is not the only one. In general, this is such an overused term that it has no real journalistic value. Save it for the tabloids. In the end, being outside the box is almost always better than being in it. (March, Vogue, p.450)

2. Heir

What is so great about being an heir? It cannot be anything greater than authoring your own destiny. In this case, Lamar is not a literal heir, but it is still unnecessary to conjure this image — especially when, ironically, the strength in his music comes entirely from his choice to turn lemons into lemonade. There’s nothing inherited about that. (March, Vogue, p.467)

1. Ruled

Ruling, rule, ruled. I’m over it. Save the Queen Speak for Regina George. Do you know how to earn respect rather than demand it? Show us. (March, Vogue, p.479)

BONUS: Burn Hamish Bowels’ thesauri (I know he has more than one)

A dandified darling. Forget-me-not-blue—eyed. Tea-stained. Whimsical. Storied. Faintly. Prized. Regal. Waif-like. Preternaturally. Patrician. Triumphantly. Aplomb. Elaborate. Exquisite. Distinguished. Divine… Hamish Bowles seems quite fun, but when you read his writing it is as if each night — when he goes to sleep — he lies down between the ghosts of Ilyich Tchicovsky and Marie Antoinette and just marinates in a world that I am certain does not exist. Wake up, Bowles. Your actual instincts are far more valuable than this stuff. (April, Vogue, p.186)

View Original Piece Here

Emilia FerraraBuzzfeed