Story at a glance

  • Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was featured on the cover of Vogue’s latest issue.
  • Some criticized the cover art as disrespectful and “whitewashing” Harris, who reportedly did not approve of the final photograph choice.
  • Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour responded in defense of Vogue’s editorial team.

Making the front cover of Vogue is an honor many can only dream of. But for a vice president-elect who made history as the first Black woman elected to the position, it was also a little casual. 

The print cover shows Harris in a blazer, black pants and Converse sneakers, an outfit she was known to sport on the campaign trail. It was taken by Tyler Mitchell, who recently made history as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover image for the prestigious fashion magazine in its 129-year history. Mitchell, however, tweeted out the digital cover, featuring Harris in a powder blue Michael Kors Collection suit with an American flag pin on her lapel, arms crossed against a gold backdrop. 


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This was reportedly the photograph Harris’s team, which chose both looks, expected — but Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour told the New York Times that the magazine was well within their rights to change their minds. 

“There was no formal agreement about what the choice of the cover would be,” she told the New York Times. “When the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the vice president-elect really reflected the moment that we were living in,.”  

In some ways, it does, admitted Washington Post critic Robin Givhan. But, as others argued online, there was also something lost. 


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"In using the more informal image for the print edition of the magazine, Vogue robbed Harris of her roses. Despite its freighted history of racial insensitivity and recent accusations of disrespect and promises to be more inclusive, Vogue as an institution hasn’t fully grasped the role that humility plays in finding the path forward. A bit of awe would have served the magazine well in its cover decisions. Nothing about the cover said, ‘Wow.’ And sometimes, that’s all Black women want, an admiring and celebratory ‘wow’ over what they have accomplished," wrote Givham for the Washington Post

Others were more concerned with the lighting, arguing that it “whitewashed” Harris’ skin tone — a criticism the magazine has heard before for cover images of other Black women, including Simone Biles. 


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Published on Jan 13, 2021