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Kamala Harris’ Vogue cover prompts backlash and outrage: 'Disrespectful'

Ronnie Koenig
·4 min read
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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris graces the February cover of Vogue magazine, but not everyone is happy with the way she's represented.

One of the two covers featuring the former California senator, 56, has been widely criticized on social media, with many saying the lighting washes her out and that the styling isn't worthy of the country's first Black woman to be elected vice president.

"Vice President-elect @kamalaharris is our February cover star!" the magazine posted on Instagram Sunday, confirming that the images of the cover that began circulating on Twitter Saturday night were real. "Making history was the first step. Now @kamalaharris has an even more monumental task: to help heal a fractured America—and lead it out of crisis. At the link in our bio, she speaks to Vogue about how she and President-elect @joebiden will get started."

In the cover photo that prompted backlash, Harris is wearing a dark suit and her famous Chuck Taylors. In the other cover, she wears a powder-blue suit as she crosses her arms and smiles at the camera.

In a statement to TODAY, reps for Vogue explained: "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 of the Biden/Harris administration. 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."

TODAY has also learned that the vice president-elect dressed and styled herself for the shoot and that the looks in both covers were selected by Harris and her team. The image featuring the darker suit and sneakers will be the print cover and was chosen by Vogue because editors felt it highlighted her personality. Reps for Harris did not immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment.

As criticism swirled on Sunday, some even called for Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour to step down. Vogue received similar critiques on photographing Black stars in July when Simone Biles covered the magazine.

"Folks who don't get why the Vogue cover of VP-elect Kamala Harris is bad are missing the point," one person tweeted. "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."

"Vogue, please, I will personally come to Condé Nast and lead a workshop on lighting and color correcting darker-than-white skin, please stop making people of color look like this. I beg. Please," wrote another Twitter user, who's since deleted their tweet.

"What a mess up. Anna Wintour must really not have Black friends and colleagues," commented a third.

Other social media users said they felt the photo shoot, which included a backdrop of patterned green wallpaper and pink drapery, lacked a discernible theme.

"Vogue knows Kamala Harris loves her sorority, suits, comfortable pants and chuck taylors. So they just jumbled it all together for the cover. Except they couldn't decide whether she is going to a luxe French salon, the Senate floor, or taking a jog," one person tweeted.

In Harris' interview with the iconic fashion magazine, she addressed her hopes for the Biden-Harris administration, insisting that she "will always speak truth, always give (Biden) my opinion, which will be based on fact and knowledge and life experience, and do it in a way that allows him, when he makes a decision, to make it with full information about the impact — and he has asked me to do that."

She previously opened up to TODAY about her plans to govern alongside President-elect Joe Biden in her first one-on-one network interview after receiving the nomination.

"The most important point I think that can be made about the diversity of who we are is an embrace for the diversity of who we are," Harris told TODAY's Craig Melvin in August. "The Biden-Harris plan is about investing in communities with a particular concern about those communities that have been long neglected to ensure that there will be economic opportunity."

This story has been updated to include a statement from Vogue and additional information about the photo shoot.