A fashion website rolled out a magazine feature perceived online to be glorifying the widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos as a “fashion icon” despite her hand in one of the darkest moments in Philippine history.
Stail.ph, an online fashion and lifestyle website, released its June issue that is a “reimagining of all things Imelda,” particularly her sense of style and beauty.
It justified the concept by saying that everyone wants to reimagine themselves as “beautiful people” and that “it’s a natural thing.”
Some Filipinos online, however, raised eyebrows over the website’s view of the Marcos matriarch.
“This is the Embellished Life. An Icon Reimagined,” the copy of its June issue featuring actress Bianca Umali as Imelda Marcos reads.
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This issue is a reimagining of all things Imelda—her love for beauty and eye for fashion. Sure, you can say a bunch of things about her but you can’t deny her impeccable taste in style. We want to imagine ourselves as beautiful people. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful, it’s a natural thing. What is wrong is obsessing over wanting to be who we are not and who we can never be. • • This is the Embellished Life. An Icon Reimagined. | Read the full article and the rest of the Cover Stories at STAIL.PH• • • #stailph #STAILicon #stailphxbiancaumali #stailphjuneissue
Some found the concept disconcerting since it appeared as if the magazine was discrediting the “atrocities” attributed to Imelda, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who imposed a years-long martial law as he clung to power in the ’70s and early ’80s.
Imelda is a plunderer and mass murderer along with her dicatator husband. Glorifying her sense of style while brushing off her atrocities is absolutely disgusting.
It's equivalent to saying, "So what if the Nazis committed genocide and conquest? They had fashoinable uniforms!" https://t.co/3czM7nmwk8
— Pterocarpus indicus (@diegomags) June 24, 2019
Imelda’s “impeccable taste in style” is made possible by spending money she OWES to the Filipino people.
To praise her style without condemning her billions worth of plunder is an ignorant act that promotes corruption and historical forgetting.
— Ash Presto 💜 (@sosyolohija) June 24, 2019
Imelda Marcos' direct involvement in, refusal to pay restitution for, and continued revisionism towards a regime that brutalized this country, butchered its people, and burgled its coffers and future is far more than "A bunch of things about her" and @stail_ph should know that.
— AJ ELICAÑO MICROBLOG (@ajejelicano) June 24, 2019
There were also allegations that the magazine temporarily blocked a Twitter user’s account for criticizing the concept.
— Apa 🏳️🌈 (@apaagbayani) June 25, 2019
An international daily newspaper recognized her as an “icon of class and grace as well as a mindless shoe maven,” acknowledging her extravagant shoe collection.
Marcos’ sense of style has also been likened to that of United States’ late first lady Jacqueline Kennedy by Life Magazine.
The matriarch’s “exaggerated expressions of her feminity”—as noted by Los Angeles Times—as well as her political resolve, also prompted foreign journalists to dub her the “Iron Butterfly.”
Extravagant shopping sprees
Imelda Marcos’ penchant for fashion and beauty, however, has a dark side.
A women-centered website under The New York Times described her as the “first lady of extravagance,” including her in its feature titled “5 Shopping Sprees So Wild, They Made History.”
It noted Marcos’ notorious shopping spree in her trip to New York, Rome and Copenhagen during 1987 where she spent $7 million within 90 days. Part of the article reads:
“In a single day in New York, she spent $3 million. Her New York loot included $2 million in fine jewelry and $35,000 on limousines.”
“An airplane departing Rome was required to do a mid-air U-turn because Imelda realized she’d forgotten to purchase cheese.”
Other half of a conjugal dictatorship
Being wife to the powerful Ferdinand, Imelda was also involved in numerous state affairs as an assemblywoman, governor, Cabinet official, ambassador plenipotentiary and hostess.
She was particularly credited for the Manila Film Center tragedy that cost the lives of around 169 construction workers after hastening its building in anticipation of the first Manila International Film Festival in January 1982.
Marcos ordered them to work “three shifts non-stop for 24 hours a day,” according to an investigative report.
“The lobby, for example, was only built in 72 hours, when it should have been erected in six weeks. At about 3 a.m. of Nov. 17, 1981, the center’s scaffolding collapsed, burying around 169 workers alive in quick-drying cement,” the report notes.
“The Marcos administration tried to cover up the accident by not permitting rescuers and ambulances into the site not until nine hours after the incident,” it continued.
Last year, Marcos was found guilty of seven counts of graft for pocketing at least $200 million of taxpayers’ money when she illegally created several Swiss foundations “for private benefit” during the Martial Law period.