What was intended to be a monumental moment for American Vogue to feature the first Black and Asian woman vice president on its cover has sparked so many controversies. Kamala Harris is the cover story and image for Vogue’s February issue. After the photo was shared by the magazine, many disapprove of the image, complaining about the whole ensemble right down to the lighting used on the shoot.
On Sunday, Vogue tweeted a photo of its cover girl, Vice-President-elect Harris in a Black suit, converse standing in front of a green and pink curtain meant to pay tribute to her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. but social media users were not amused in the least bit.
Another photo which has been deemed a more appropriate fit for Harris and her office showed her in a powder blue Michael Kors suit standing in front of a draping gold curtain. Per CBS, this image was vetted and agreed upon for the feature image of the magazine.
“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,” the source said.
Harris’ team was expecting the pink and green background photo to appear in the magazine instead of it taking center stage. Her team asked for a new cover but the issue was sent to the printers in mid-December.
26-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell, who made history as the first Black photographer to shoot for Vogue’s cover when he shot Beyonce for the September 2018 issue, took the photos of Harris which are now under scrutiny.
Mitchell shared the photo of Harris in the powder blue suit on Twitter and Vogue’s team appreciated his works regardless of the backlash. “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,” a spokesperson for Vogue told CBS News.
“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,” they added.
Critics say Harris’ skin appeared rather ‘washed out’.
One Twitter user said, “Kamala Harris is about as light skinned as women of color come and Vogue still fucked up her lighting,” they wrote about the initial photo shared by Vogue.
Others directed their attacks on Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief, stating she “must really not have Black friends and colleagues.”
Wintour herself admitted some time ago that her magazine needed improvement on issues pertaining to Blacks and diversity and took the blame for all the mishaps in that regard.
“What a mess up,” wrote the New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali. “Anna Wintour must really not have 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.”