Kamala Harris will be on Vogue’s February cover. Pretty cool, right? Not exactly.
The magazine – which released two photos of Harris from its February edition – has sparked instant outrage for “whitewashing” or lightening the skin colour of America’s future Vice-President.
Vogue, in a tweet on Sunday, 10 January, made public a photo of 56-year-old Harris wearing her trademark Converse sneakers, standing in front of a pink and green drape – the colours of her university sorority. The other, a more formal one, shows her in a powder blue suit, with her arms crossed in front of a gold background.
Soon after the photos were revealed, many took to social media to slam Vogue for not only lightening Harris’ skin tone, but also to point out that the quality did not match with the magazine’s usual standards.
Interestingly, the photos were shot by Tyler Mitchell, the now 26-year-old photographer who created a sensation back in 2018 when he became the first Black photographer to shoot the Vogue cover in the magazine’s more than century-old existence. The September cover had none other than singer Beyoncé who is said to have picked the photographer herself.
‘White-Washed, Not of Vogue’s Standards’: How Twitter Reacted
Harris scripted history as the first woman to become vice president of the United States. She will be the first Black woman and the first woman of Indian heritage to occupy the position.
But her photos on the upcoming edition of Vogue did not do justice.
“Every photo editor at Vogue should know the basics of editing photos of people of color,” Eliza, who is a professional photographer, tweeted.
“What a poor representation of woman of color in power! Travesty,” another user wrote on Twitter.
Others pointed that little effort was put in the photos – “They didn’t put thought into it. Like homework finished the morning it’s due.”
‘Anna Wintour Needs to Go’
American Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, celebrated as a fashion icon, was called out for Harris’ representation on the cover and said that her team lacked ability to “properly style a black woman”.
This is not the first time Wintour is under fire. In July 2020, she apologised to staff members in a letter for ‘mistakes’ in publishing photographs seen insensitive to people of colour.
“Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate or give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers, and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I want to take full responsibility for those mistakes,” she wrote.
What’s Kamala’s Team Saying
Harris’ team has not released an official statement.
However, New York magazine contributor Yashar Ali further tweeted that a source “familiar with publication plans” told him the photo – a full-length image of Harris standing against pink and green backdrop – isn’t the one her team expected to make to the front of the magazine’s print edition.
“Aides to Harris and Vogue had the understanding that the blue suit/gold background would be the cover photo. Without telling Harris’ team, Vogue changed it to the pink/green photo which the Vice President-elect’s team did not agree to,” another source told CBS News.