Vogue was given the honor of featuring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on its February cover, but many on Twitter, in the media, and even, reportedly, on Harris’s team aren’t thrilled with the final product.
Early Sunday morning, the publication posted a diptych of cover images along with a link to their profile of the history-making incoming VP. The image on the left, which shows Harris wearing a more casual outfit and her trademark Converse sneakers, is the one that’ll hit stands this month, while a more formal shot originally intended for the cover, featuring Harris in pearls and powder-blue suit, has been relegated to the magazine’s pages. Apparently, the choice was a last-minute switch—and that was news to Harris’s team.
Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris is our February cover star!
Making history was the first step. Now Harris has an even more monumental task: to help heal a fractured America—and lead it out of crisis. Read the full profile: https://t.co/W5BQPTH7AU pic.twitter.com/OCFvVqTlOk
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) January 10, 2021
According to the Los Angeles Times, “a person involved in the negotiations over how Harris would be featured on the cover” said Harris’s team wasn’t aware that the more casual image would be featured on the cover until it was leaked on Saturday night.
Contacted for comment about the sudden switch, Condé Nast/Vogue told USA Today, “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 for the Biden/Harris administration.” Condé Nast corporate PR Remi Berger is quoted as saying: “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.”
Harris’s team didn’t officially comment, but Twitter had plenty to say about the quality of the photos, complaining that the soon-to-be first Black woman VP looks washed out, “whitewashed” even. Writer and Twitter personality Charlotte Clymer said, “Folks who don’t get why the Vogue cover of VP-elect Kamala Harris is bad are missing the point. The pic itself isn’t terrible as a pic. It’s just far, far below the standards of Vogue. They didn’t put thought into it. Like homework finished the morning it’s due. Disrespectful.”
Washington Post columnist Robin Givhan agreed. In an op-ed published yesterday, she wrote, “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.”
The article itself, which sure to be somewhat more popular, includes photos from Harris’s childhood, as well as her 2014 wedding to L.A. lawyer Douglas Emhoff. Harris declares in the story, “The first 100 days of the Biden administration has to be to get control of the pandemic,” adding that the administration will also focus on getting federal aid to small businesses.
“Vice President Harris has already been ‘the first’ many times in her career,” Michelle Obama says in the piece. “This is a woman who knows what she’s doing.” Obama herself had three Vogue covers in her eight-year White House tenure. Melania Trump had zero in four years.
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