With a problematic past of racial insensitivity, Vogue has recently sparked a new controversy for allegedly whitewashing vice-president-elect Kamala Harris' cover photo
Vogue’s February cover was supposed to be all about embracing the future, ushering in a new age of positivity and national harmony, leaving behind the last four years of the widely divisive Trump administration.
The magazine cast Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris for this role - to spread the message of diversity and authenticity. She is the first woman and the first woman of colour ever to be elected Vice President- all the more reason to feature Harris, who is set to “help heal a fractured America—and lead it out of crisis.”
But the cover photo of Kamala Harris for the magazine’s print edition drew widespread criticism for alleged racial insensitivity, with some netizens initially contending that this must be a joke.
A Twitter user wrote, “I thought it was fake — that’s how bad it is.”
Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris is our February cover star!— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) January 10, 2021
Making history was the first step. Now Harris has an even more monumental task: to help heal a fractured America—and lead it out of crisis. Read the full profile: https://t.co/W5BQPTH7AU pic.twitter.com/OCFvVqTlOk
Editor of Vogue Anna Wintour, with a problematic past of racism, is facing the music over the cover release. Many have pointed out the unnatural pose, awkward smile and uncomfortable body language of Harris in the photograph. The outrage grew in intensity when the vice president’s team announced that they felt “blindsided” by Vogue’s selection and they did not agree on this photo.
The team wanted the second photo where Harris is seen donning a powder blue Michael Kors pantsuit, exuding charm and confidence - a demand that was brushed aside by the Vogue staff.
Many on social media also accused the magazine of ‘whitewashing’ Harris, making her look lighter than her original skin tone.
Folks who don't get why the Vogue cover of VP-elect Kamala Harris is bad are missing the point. The pic itself isn't terrible as a pic. It's just far, far below the standards of Vogue. They didn't put thought into it. Like homework finished the morning it's due. Disrespectful.— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) January 10, 2021
In a Washington Post piece, Robin Givhan wrote, “The cover did not give Kamala Harris due respect. It was overly familiar. It was a cover image that, in effect, called Harris by her first name without invitation.”
Vogue team responded to the controversy by issuing a statement. "The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris's authentic, approachable nature -- which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration.”
"To respond to the seriousness of this moment in history, and the role she has to play leading our country forward, we're celebrating both images of her as covers digitally,” added the outlet.