“The selected photo is determinedly unfancy. Kind of messy. The lighting is unflattering. The effect is pretty un-Vogue. ‘Disrespectful’ was the word used most often on social media,” the New York Times reported.
Anyone wondering if the MSM would go soft on the incoming Biden-Harris administration should fret no more. Just this week, reporters and anchors alike have spent a considerable amount of time reporting not just on the fallout from the Capitol riots but also on the “outrage” surrounding Vogue‘s Kamala Harris cover.
It all started when a photo of Harris on the cover of the February edition of Vogue magazine was leaked on social media over the weekend. It showed her in a very informal outfit that included Chucks sneakers, skinny jeans, and pearls. The picture colors didn’t look as vivid and bright as the more glamorous photos one usually sees upon first glance of the magazine.
Vice president-elect Kamala Harris is on the cover of Vogue’s February issue pic.twitter.com/NGxhyGaoS9
— models daily (@supermodeldaiIy) January 10, 2021
The outrage was immediate, so much so that Vogue trended for a time on Twitter:
“Kamala is our FIRST EVER WOMAN VICE PRESIDENT!” a person wrote on Vogue’s Instagram account.
“PLEASE DO HER JUSTICE and REDO this cover! Put her in a background that is regal like she is! Your old drape from the CEO’s office is insulting.”
Another reader wrote. “Love that she’s on the cover but why this one?! Y’all could’ve done WAYYYY BETTER.”
New York magazine contributor Yashar Ali further stirred up controversy when he tweeted that a source “familiar with publication plans” told him the photo — a full-length image of Harris standing on an overly long pink drape against a green backdrop — isn’t the one her team expected to make the front of the magazine’s print edition.
Harris’ camp instead thought the photo of Harris used for Vogue’s digital edition — depicting her in a baby-blue Michael Kors Collection pantsuit — would be chosen for the print edition, too, the source allegedly said.
The Washington Post‘s fashion reporter Robin Givhan didn’t waste any time weighing in either, proclaiming the print version’s cover did not give her respect because, among other reasons, it … used her name:
“The cover did not give Kamala D. Harris due respect. It was overly familiar. It was a cover image that, in effect, called Harris by her first name without invitation.” https://t.co/kudvZSiGMx
— Robin Givhan (@RobinGivhan) January 11, 2021
Bloomberg White House reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted out a link to Givhan’s piece with a note about how the cover supposedly “didn’t meet the moment.”
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) January 11, 2021
The Washington Post also published an opinion piece on the “issue,” with the author playing the race card:
Opinion: Vogue’s Kamala Harris cover shows that diminishing powerful Black women is still in fashion https://t.co/N4xspCwwfq
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) January 14, 2021
CNN reported Harris’ team were “blindsided” by the print cover. How horrifying!
Kamala Harris' forthcoming appearance in American Vogue has sparked criticism for appearing casual, with the Vice President-elect's team blindsided by the magazine's choice of cover. https://t.co/VfWaETUEoe
— CNN (@CNN) January 11, 2021
Meanwhile, ABC, CBS, and NBC all filed reports about the “controversy,” with NBC’s Today show interviewing Harris’ niece Meena, who also hinted that Harris’ race might be a factor in why that particular photo was chosen for the cover:
“It’s a big moment where we’ve elected the first woman in history, the first black woman in history and South Asian woman to hold the office of vice president in our country’s history. That is a huge historic moment….It deserves the proper celebration of that moment, especially, you know, for a magazine that often has not had black women on the cover.”
New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman described the uproar over the photo this way:
The image was shot by Tyler Mitchell, who, in 2018, became the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover (his subject was Beyoncé) and is known for his unstudied aesthetic. Though Gabriella Karefa-Johnson receives credit as the sittings editor, a.k.a. the fashion editor in charge, Ms. Harris chose and wore her own clothes. The selected photo is determinedly unfancy. Kind of messy. The lighting is unflattering. The effect is pretty un-Vogue. “Disrespectful” was the word used most often on social media.
It was always going to garner outsize scrutiny. Complicated by Vogue’s own messy history with race.
Vogue did, however, have one defender. Mercury News feature writer Martha Ross, who wrote an entire piece that focused on how Harris got the cover First Lady Melania Trump had wanted during her four years in Washington, DC but didn’t get:
Melania Trump complained about being denied the honor of a Vogue cover during her husband’s presidency, but she probably lost that opportunity because she has been accused of enabling one of the most divisive administration’s in U.S. history, according to her ex-best friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.
Between the post-election “reports” about Joe Biden’s socks, and questions about whether or not members of the Biden team will take musical instruments with them when they travel overseas, the videos from gushing reporters during Harris’ presidential campaign about her fashion choices, and now this, it’s clear that the type of hard-hitting “journalism” we’re used to seeing from the media during Democratic presidential administrations will be returning – and with a vengeance.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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