By Maddyn Shapiro '22
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
Vice President elect Kamala Harris was recently featured on the cover of Vogue magazine; however, the image that Harris, and her team perceived to be featured, an image of her in a light blue suit, was not the photo that appeared on the magazine’s cover, and, as a result sparked controversy.
Some individuals questioned the integrity of the image but Vogue confirmed its credibility, explaining that both images were scheduled to be featured in the magazine: the more casual image inside the magazine and the more professional image as the cover.
While Harris’s team requested a new cover, a spokesperson for Vogue commented on the dispute, claiming that the magazine loves how the casual image emphasizes Harris’s authenticity and approachability. Further, Vogue put out a statement: “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.”
Both images were taken by Tyler Mitchell, the first Black photographer to shoot for an American Vogue cover. Mitchell’s goal for the more casual image was to honor Howard University's Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first historically African American sorority, which Harris was part of, according to a recent article published in Vogue magazine. Harris reported that her time in the sorority challenged her and her friends to live up to their full potential, and use their talents to become leaders and make positive change. Mitchell wanted to stress the strong traits that Harris holds in the image by referencing the place that helped her to become so influential.
People criticized the image for depicting Harris as a “washed out mess,” claimed that the image marginalized her power. Others claimed the image is poorly lit, and fails to portray Vice President Harris in the best way. When compared with past Vogue covers, critics said this did not match their usual aesthetic.
Despite some negative views of the cover, not everyone judged it in a pessimistic way. Some claim that regardless of the way she is portrayed, she is still being featured and depicted in a presidential way.
This hot debate arrived just before Harris was inaugurated as the first female Black South Asian Vice President. Despite the controversy, Kamala Harris made history and deserves to be honored, something that Vogue’s cover successfully conveys, even if not everyone agrees with it.