Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris has gotten a Vogue cover before even taking office — but apparently, the controversial shot wasn’t what she was expecting.
Harris’s team was reportedly “blindsided” by the magazine’s photo choice. “[P]er a source familiar, this is not the cover that was mutually agreed upon. The agreed upon cover had VP-elect Harris in a powder blue suit,” journalist Yashar Ali reported in a thread of tweets.
Many Harris supporters complained that the final photo that was chosen for the magazine’s cover is too informal and “disrespectful” of her status as both a powerful politician as well as the first woman vice president — not to mention the first female VP of color.
“Disrespectful” of Harris’s position
In the photo that will grace the cover of Vogue magazine on newsstands and in mailboxes across the nation, Harris stands smiling with her hands clasped at her waist while wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt and black skinny jeans with Converse sneakers — her trademark look from the campaign trail over the course of the 2020 election season.
What Harris’ team had reportedly been expecting to see used for the magazine’s cover was a slightly more formal portrait of Harris in a light blue suit with her arms crossed. That photo has since been released by Vogue as the featured cover of the digital version of the story in response to backlash from fashion critics and social media outcry, but it was said to have been too late to stop printing the physical copies of the magazine with the more informal photo on the cover.
Not that photo, we wanted this photo!
Ali helpfully concluded his thread with a side by side of the two photos.
4. Here is the Vogue cover Kamala Harris’ team thought would be released.
I’m told this cover on the left will be the digital cover, but the much maligned cover on the right has already gone to print and will be the cover available for sale and sent to subscribers. pic.twitter.com/5eWjPMTbdP
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 10, 2021
The Associated Press reported that Vogue responded to the controversy by defending its choice of cover photo as one that displayed Harris’ “authentic, approachable nature, which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden-Harris administration.”
“Racism,” because why not?
Of course, given the pervasive nature of identity politics and Harris’ status as a woman of color — it didn’t take long before the specter of racism reared its ugly head amid the controversy, with that accusation aimed squarely at Vogue’s famous editor Anna Wintour, who has in the past faced accusations of being racially insensitive.
“Despite the publication’s stated best intentions, Vogue’s protracted history of racism (which Wintour has previously apologized for) is impossible to ignore. For decades, the magazine has excluded and underpaid Black talent, and published racially insensitive images and stories,” declared leftist media outlet Vox.
“This casual image of the woman who will be America’s first woman vice president seems to add to the narrative of Vogue’s lack of respect for women of color, even one who has risen higher in the American power structure than any other woman in U.S. history,” Vox added. “There was considerable labor and forethought put into crafting the vice president-elect’s cover shoot, but the final product — through Vogue’s traditional editorial process — appeared perfunctory.”
Wintour defended the choice in an interview on Tuesday, saying, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.”