One thing I really enjoy about W is how unabashedly artsy and occasionally weird its photography is, but the oddity here — and I don’t mean it as a compliment — is how they decorated the pictures. It’s the font. And the color. It feels like something designed back in the Internet dark age of Angelfire sites and text that blinks.
Anyway, Letitia and Millie seem to be sharing this volume’s cover (I don’t know if they publish monthly anymore). It’s always odd to me to go to all the trouble of sharing around the cover, only to do it between two people. Is that odd of me? My feeling is, give it to one person, or give it to four-or-more, but two is bizarre. Especially when I would’ve left one out altogether. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; instead, let’s start with Letitia. This shot is pretty amazing because it almost feels like photojournalism from another time. It dovetails literally with the “calling the shots” cover line, but it also speaks to the notion of so much of what people are fighting for these days: a voice. At first I was worried it came across too much like anger, but I tend to interpret it more as being assertive and powerful and unafraid. I just think it’s cool, and manages to fuse feeling retro and timeless. And the story about her talks a lot about her discovery of faith, and how it’s informed and affected her journey as an actor. It’s good, and a pleasure to read about someone who was — off-screen, at least — genuinely unknown to me.
Now, onto Millie.
I don’t know what it is about this young woman that makes magazines and media lose their minds about how to cover her, because Millie is not the first famous 14-year old in the world (nor was she at 13, or 12). But they seem incapable of doing it without injecting an unsettling Come Hither babydoll quality. I feel like this is supposed to look beguiling, but in a calculatedly innocent way that gives me the creeps because of how SHE IS ESSENTIALLY A HIGH-SCHOOL FRESHMAN and not simply the newest office girl at Sterling Cooper.
And while it’s undeniable that Millie Bobby Brown is super famous, my first instinct was to say that it’s odd to me that she’s on the cover of W. She should still be hanging out with Seventeen and Teen Vogue; this does not feel like her venue. But I’d forgotten that W put Kiernan Shipka, Zendaya, and Willow Smith on a cover together in 2016, when they were 17, 19, and 16, respectively, and it didn’t seem weird — maybe because they were together, maybe because they made their teendom the point. Or maybe because the photo made them look funky, rebellious, and strong, rather than wide-eyed and pouty-lipped. (The story also claims she’d always wanted to be on the cover of W, and that is nice, but I thought to myself, “She’s BS’ing, right?” It’s got to be spin. W is a nice magazine, but is it on anyone’ s bucket list except in a very general or expansive sense?)
And the story is also really a bit flat. She is a young girl. She works on a hit Netflix show and shot a movie. She likes Jolly Ranchers. She was bald once for Stranger Things. Not that much is happening, or has happened, to add to her narrative in a way that makes for a rich profile — and that’s fine, and as it should be. It’s my hope for most 14-year olds that they haven’t lived a thousand lifetimes by that age, because half the fun of being a kid is being a kid, and not rushing through it. But my other hope is that people will stop trying to turn this girl into a sex kitten before she’s even old enough to drive. W’s cover is not the most egregious in this regard by far, but it’s definitely not helping.