Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is splashed on the February cover of Vogue, but many social media users are less than thrilled with the magazine’s photo choice.
Two covers are posted with the interview, both shot by Tyler Mitchell, the Black photographer who was hired to shoot Beyoncé for the magazine in 2018. One depicts Harris, 56, in a powder-blue Michael Kors power suit, her arms crossed, with a flag pin on her lapel. The second, more controversial image shows Harris in a more casual black Donald Deal jacket, wearing matching Converse Chuck Taylors, pearls around her neck, and standing against a pink and green backdrop, which the magazine described as a nod to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Some slammed the latter image when it surfaced early Sunday morning on Twitter, calling it disrespectful and speculating that the image was deliberately washed out to lighten her skin.
On Monday, Harris’ team told the Associated Press that the shot of the country’s soon-to-be No. 2 leader isn’t what both sides had agreed upon. CNN and CBS also reported the buzzed about image blindsided Harris.
Harris’ team was unaware that the cover photo had been switched until images leaked late Saturday, according to a person involved in the negotiations over how Harris would be featured on the cover. .
Thus far, Harris herself hasn’t responded to or shared either cover. Harris’ office declined to comment.
“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,” Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour told The New York Times in a statement published Tuesday.
Wintour’s statement echoed sentiments expressed by Vogue in a statement provided Sunday to USA TODAY by Remi Berger of parent company Conde Nast.
“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. 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.”
But many on Twitter complained that the more candid image wasn’t worthy of a Vogue cover.
“It’s just far, far below the standards of Vogue. They didn’t put thought into it,” @cmclymer tweeted. “Like homework finished the morning it’s due. Disrespectful.”
“Kamala Harris is about as light skinned as women of color come and Vogue still (expletive) up her lighting,” @HypeVaughan tweeted, calling it a “washed out mess of a cover.”
“sooo sorry about that Kamala Vogue cover guys my dad insisted on taking the photo,” comic Jenny Yang tweeted. “ugh DAD!“
“What a mess up,” @WajahatAli wrote. “(Vogue editor in chief) Anna Wintour must really not have Black friends and colleagues.” Later, he added, “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.”
Vogue shared the covers side by side: “Making history was the first step,” the magazine tweeted. “Now Harris has an even more monumental task: to help heal a fractured America – and lead it out of crisis.”
It’s unclear whether different covers will appear on the magazine’s newsstand and subscriber editions, or if one cover is digital-only. Mitchell, the photographer who took both images, opted to share the blue-suit version on Twitter and Instagram, which has been received more positively.
“Now that’s a cover shot for the most powerful woman in the world,” @nicolebbdos1 replied to Mitchell on Twitter.
@Free_Spirit2972 praised both covers, saying she “absolutely” loved the light blue suit shot. “I thought the other cover was playful with her wearing the Converse sneakers. I will be getting both.”
In the interview, which was done weeks before the riot at the U.S. Capitol to protest election results, Harris spoke about hate and unity.
“At the risk of oversimplifying it, you don’t meet hate with hate,” Harris told Vogue. “You don’t meet one line of division with another line of division. We believe that the vast majority of American people don’t agree with that approach, don’t accept it, and don’t like it.
“We can agree that we have more in common than what separates us,” she said. “And agree that it’s not in the best interest of who we are as a nation to have any one group suffer for who they are.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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