The Kamala Harris Vogue Cover Is Disappointing

Kamala Harris Vogue covers

Another Vogue cover featuring a 50-something woman, YAY. What did you all think of Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ Vogue cover?

I love that a black photographer (Tyler Mitchell, who was publication’s first black cover photographer when he shot Beyonce in 2018) took the photograph. I love that she’s wearing Chucks. I love seeing her here. But I don’t love these photos.

The one with the gold background is … O.K. The one with the Chucks, on the other hand: People complained on social media that she looked washed out and that may be true (and if that’s the case and it was intentional, it’s despicable).

My biggest problems:

1. The insecure expression on her face makes it an odd choice when you know they had hundreds of versions to choose from. Insecure is not what we want form the first female Black and Indian-American Vice President. of the United State. We want strong.

2. The jacket cuts in a weird place.

3. I love the Chucks but not paired with the tapered jeans.

Pat McGrath Allure cover

4. OK they were paying tribute to her sorority but please with that background. I would rather have seen her dressed in those colors. I don’t love putting her in all black (ok apparently the jacket is espresso?), although Pat McGrath in all black on the cover of Allure this month looks amazing.

5. The United States of Fashion? I don’t think so.

Harris apparently styled herself for the shoot so perhaps the criticisms of the clothing and styling are misplaced. But this is Vogue, are we to believe she didn’t receive guidance from anyone at the most prestigious fashion magazine in the world?

kamala harris vogue

I would much rather see her in motion. The seond photo above, published in Vanity Fair in 2013, could have been an inspiration—I would have loved to have seen her going someplace in her Chucks. Or maybe have them kicked up on her desk.

And I have to agree with Robin Givhan who wrote in the Washington Post: “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.” Also: “Nothing about the cover said, “Wow.” And sometimes, that’s all Black women want, an admiring and celebratory ‘wow’ over what they have accomplished.”

Certainly there are many things more important than a Vogue cover to worry about at the moment. But how we portray black and brown people is not insignificant—especially in this historic moment.

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