Former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman may have had it all wrong. If a photo from her most recent vacation is any indication, turns out people actually do appreciate seeing images of women who aren’t considered the “perfect girl next door.”
Last week, Shulman posted a mirror selfie of herself in a Boden bikini on Instagram, alongside the caption "Time for the boat trip." Little did she know that it would spark a conversation in the comments section about ageism and female empowerment (Shulman is 59-years old). Hailing Shulman as a “hero," users have utilized the image as the basis for posting words of encouragement (@lucky_knight wrote: “Yes! Good for you! The realer Instagram gets, the better. Keep on wearing it, you look great”) and to share their own stories ("I had to convince myself that it was my right to wear shorts in the midst of a heathwave where I live, at my 60, not being in bad shape for my age. You are brave!).
Shulman, however, doesn’t see the big deal. “I happen to love bikinis and have never felt that it mattered to anyone how I looked wearing them,” she told The Sunday Times. “I fully intend to continue wearing them to my grave. I had no idea that sharing a picture of myself in a bikini on Instagram could provoke either the compliments or the outrage.”
It's interesting, though, considering Shulman would choose to post such an unfiltered picture when her time at British Vogue was consistently met with criticism over a lack of diversity. As The Guardian's Lucy Siegle wrote: "Yes, an undoctored picture of a 59-year-old in a bikini is an act of revolution. Proof that after a certain age, unless you’re preternaturally youthful or willing to extinguish signs of wear and tear using Instagram tools, then all the famous “gazes” (the male gaze, the fashion gaze and the social media gaze) are repelled. Fair play to Shulman in challenging this head on, in a bikini. But given that she was the wizard behind the curtain for 25 years, how infuriating that she didn’t take this stance as editor. Although she spoke out against the insanity of small sample sizes, her tenure was mainly business as usual. The cover of her final Vogue predictably features Kate Moss."
Perhaps we can consider this bikini selfie Shulman turning over a new leaf? And if her plans for life post-Vogue include taking back the beach, well, we're very much here for it.