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Vogue is under social-media fire for ‘disrespectful’ Kamala Harris cover

A photo of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for Vogue magazine.
Social media users are lambasting Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ February 2021 Vogue shoot, decrying its lighting, backdrop and wardrobe direction.
(Vogue)

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ Vogue cover is getting a lot of hate online.

Harris was revealed to be the magazine’s February 2021 cover star Saturday night when two separate images were leaked by the Twitter account Models Daily. In one photo, Harris is pictured wearing a formal powder blue Michael Kors Collection suit. In the other, she wears a dark Donald Deal blazer, jeans and Converse Chuck Taylors.

The latter image has come under fire for its lighting, backdrop and wardrobe direction. It was initially believed to be fake until Vogue confirmed both covers in a tweet Sunday morning.

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The photos were met with swift backlash on social media, with many people calling the images disrespectful, unflattering and even racist. In addition — decrying “lazy” art direction — many complained that Harris’ skin tone appeared washed out and that the full-length portrait resembles a test shot.

“The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris’ authentic, approachable nature — which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration,” a representative from Vogue said in a statement. “To respond to the seriousness of this moment in history and the role she has to play [in] leading our country forward, we’re celebrating both images of her as covers digitally.”

Commentators have speculated that the photo generating the backlash is the one intended for its print issue, which goes to subscribers and newsstands. Vogue has not commented, but the leaked image from Models Daily does bear a bar code.

Mitchell, whose dynamic shots of Harry Styles for Vogue’s December 2020 issue drew much attention on social media, made history three years ago as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover of American Vogue. The photo he shot of Beyoncé for the magazine’s September 2018 cover is now in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery‘s permanent collection. The photographer shared only the more formal portrait of Harris on his Instagram and Twitter pages.

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