So, let me begin by stating for the record that I love Meryl Streep, and I am thrilled Vogue finally put someone of her age and accomplishment level on the cover, after giving that platform to the same handful of predictably dull choices like Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger and Sarah Jessica Parker approximately eleven-hundred times. Frankly, it’s amazing to me that it took this long, although it feels like Vogue wants you to hug them for being so brave and then give them an award.
Even the layout appears to scream, “DO NOT FORGET WHAT WE HAVE DONE.” The number 50 is barking at us from the bottom left, as if to suggest, “50! As in, a smaller number than the age of the lady on the cover!” And there’s that story up by her face about flawless skin at any age. I feel like it’s yelling, “ANY AGE. EVEN MERYL’S, Y’ALL. BECAUSE IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD, SHE’S OLDER THAN ANYONE WE’VE EVER PUT ON OUR COVER.”
But I’m conflicted. I do think Meryl looks good. And I don’t want Meryl to look like anyone other than Meryl. But I wonder if there was some acreage between “plonk Meryl on a rock” and “make Meryl look like Katy Perry.” Check out the other photo they’re distributing as part of the big cover coup:
Striking and stark and arty, yes. But be honest: It’s also one sidebar about stomach crunches away from looking like a Self magazine spread. Meryl even appears to be wearing yoga pants.
So tell me: Is this exactly right, or a letdown? I can see the argument for both. On one hand, Meryl herself does not come off as someone who has patience for pretension, and there’s certainly something to be gained for letting her be herself without any adornments or headdresses or other assorted whatnots. But, when you found out Meryl Streep was going to be on — and in — Vogue, did you hope a LITTLE bit that they’d give her more of the editorial Vogue treatment? She doesn’t have to be running through a horse-laden prairie in a $10,000 skirt woven from crushed New Year’s Eve party horns, and she doesn’t have to be naked and body painted with her own portrait from 40 years ago. But as I said, there’s a lot of space between that for them to have had some glamorous fun with a gorgeous woman who makes aging look enviable and gives women in her generation a real aspirational touchstone. So a big part of me would love to see what they could’ve done if only they’d thought of something other than, “Let’s stick Meryl on a rock,” or, “Let’s stick Meryl on a rock and unbutton an extra bit of her blouse.”
I’d love to know your thoughts — do you think Vogue played it exactly right, or didn’t do enough? Does this feel like a sincere gesture, or just something they could do and then publicly pat themselves on the back for it? Honestly, I think it’s possible that it’s both. Obviously Meryl more than deserved the honor; I just wonder if she deserved more than those pants.