Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover has sparked controversy online

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.

Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover has sparked controversy online

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

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.

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.”


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