A Vogue cover featuring Kamala Harris: “What happened to the powder blue suit with the American flag on it?”

From senior media writer Tom Jones at The Poynter Report

The cover of February’s Vogue is causing controversy. It all started Saturday night when HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali tweeted out the Vogue cover days before it’s scheduled to hit newsstands.

The cover has Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wearing black pants, a black blazer and her Converse Chuck Taylor shoes. That cover, apparently, blindsided Harris’ team. They thought another photo was going to be used, a photo with Harris wearing a powder blue power suit with an American flag pin on it and Harris’ arms folded. (Both will be displayed digitally. You can see both photos here.)

So what’s the controversy?

For starters, Ali said that Harris’ team and Vogue agreed upon the cover with the blue suit. The other photo has been criticized as not being up to Vogue standards, partly because of the sloppy background, and that the photo looks washed out.

New York Times’ contributing opinion writer Wajahat Ali tweeted, “What a mess up. (Editor-in-chief) Anna Wintour must really not have Black friends and colleagues.”

Activist and writer Charlotte Clymer told her nearly 357,000 Twitter followers:

“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.

“There’s no theme to the pic. It’s like they said: ‘Okay, yeah, we’ll grab this sheet and stick it in the background. Ma’am, can you wear the Chucks to give it some pizazz? Great, that’s good enough. Okay, moving on.’ For a cover photo of the first woman VP.”

In a statement to USA Today’s Kim Willis, Vogue said, “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.”

But — and this is important as New Statesman’s Emily Tamkin points outAlexis Okeowo’s profile of Harris in Vogue is excellent.

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