Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover has sparked controversy online

Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover has sparked controversy online
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Updated 11 January 2021

Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover has sparked controversy online

Vice President elect Kamals Harris photographed by Tyler Mitchell for the Feb 2021 issue of American Vogue. Supplied

DUBAI: Kamala Harris, who made history as the first black woman to be elected vice president in America, is the star of US Vogue’s February 2021 issue, however, many online aren’t pleased with the cover photos. 

Users took to social media platforms, including Twitter and Clubhouse, to express their discontent with the lighting of the two photographs, in which Harris is seen posing against the backdrop of a draped, pink satin fabric.

Online critics accused the publication’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and the magazine for supposedly “white-washing” the vice president-elect.



A post shared by Vogue (@voguemagazine)

One user called it a “washed-out mess of a cover.” 

“Kamala Harris is about as light skinned as women of color come and Vogue still (redacted) up her lighting,” the commenter wrote.

Other users criticized Wintour, suggesting that she “must not have many Black friends and colleagues.”

“I’ll shoot shots of VP Kamala Harris for free using my Samsung and I’m 100% confident it’ll turn out better than this Vogue cover,” wrote New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali.

Vogue denied to the New York Post it had lightened Harris’s skin after the shoot.



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The choice of cover image also came under fire over its casual style, with some social media users claiming it didn’t respect the gravity of Harris’s election as the US’s first female vice-president.

The photographs were shot by Tyler Mitchell, who made history as the first African-American photographer to lens a Vogue US cover when he shot Beyonce in 2018.

But according to the New York Post, Harris and her team had full control over the styling, hair and makeup.

She wore a casual black jacket and trousers paired with Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers for one photo and a powder blue Michael Kors pantsuit for the other.

According to a source familiar with the publication plans, the vice president-elect’s team were blindsided by the magazine's choice of cover as it was reportedly not what they were expecting. 

The same source said the Harris team has asked for a new cover, though it should be noted that the print version of the magazine went to press last month. 

A spokesperson for Vogue said in an emailed statement that 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.”

What We Are Reading Today: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

What We Are Reading Today: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo
Updated 16 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

What We Are Reading Today: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a history of white male America and a scathing indictment of what it has cost us.
After the election of Donald Trump, and the escalation of white male rage and increased hostility toward immigrants that came with him, New York Times-bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo found herself in conversation with Americans around the country, pondering one central question: How did we get here?
Oluo answers that question by pinpointing white men’s deliberate efforts to subvert women, people of color, and the disenfranchised. Through research and interviews, Oluo investigates the backstory of America’s growth, from immigrant migration to our national ethos around ingenuity, from the shaping of economic policy to the protection of sociopolitical movements that fortify male power. In the end, she shows how white men have long maintained a stranglehold on leadership and sorely undermined the pursuit of happiness for all, according to a review at goodreads.com.