Because I am, quite frankly!
Photo Credit: Vogue India
So, as if Pepsigate wasn't enough, Kendall Jenner is under fire yet again for her latest cover with Vogue India for their 10th anniversary/ May issue. I guess we have no choice but to assume that no Indian models were available...?
At this point, Kendall must be saying yes to every opportunity that comes her way. I get it, girl. Keep the coins coming in, but DAMN! Did she not learn anything about inserting her white ass in situations where it doesn't belong from the Pepsi backlash just over a month ago? When was her instinct supposed to kick in and say "hmm, maybe this isn't the right move for me. Maybe I should move out of the way so a young woman of Indian descent can get some shine." But nope! Clearly we give Kendall (and anyone else, for that matter) way too much credit, hoping that common sense, empathy, divine intervention, SOMETHING will kick in, but again we are sadly mistaken.
There is a clear problem that the fashion industry has concerning diversity. It's no secret. Vogue, in general, is no stranger to being under fire for being tone deaf, lacking color betwixt its pages and being insensitive to whitewashing other cultures. The problem here is that Vogue India had to have sought out Kendall and wanted her for this cover. When I think of an anniversary issue for a publication, it's supposed to celebrate all that the publication represents, the beauty of the culture it's immersed in and the people that support it. Nothing about Kendall Jenner screams Indian culture. White privilege, maybe. Classic white America, yuup. Oblivious to the effect this has on herself and others, oh yes! The thing that really gets me is that of all of the beautiful Indian women and models that could've been featured, Kendall was picked. It's hard enough being anything other than a white, size 2 model in this industry. To add insult to injury and take the representation out of the equation entirely is not okay. When a brown looks at the pages of a magazine and sees everything but herself and her skin put on a pedestal, that's problematic! Publications have to stop whitewashing culture. You can't insert yourself and attempt to make yourself relevant in brown culture, then try to pass things that you learn from those respective cultures as your own. We're tired of it!
The really funny thing is that we were JUST here with Gigi Hadid and her Vogue Arabia cover in March, where she was styled and photographed in a hijab and was accused of using her Palestinian roots here for convenience.
Photo Credit: Teen Vogue
There is a process to any fashion shoot. You create a theme; you screen models; you pick clothing; you assess what works and what doesn't, all the while strategizing how this shoot is going to affect people, culture, etc. I'm 100% sure that the images in both spreads were beautiful. However, taking these opportunities away from brown women and instead using white faces for popularity points made it ugly very quickly. Those working behind the scenes of these shoots CHOSE to have white women be the forefront here. They CHOSE to take away that representation and further perpetuate the toxic, and entirely untrue notion that Eurocentric beauty is the standard.
What's the point of having so many different branches of Vogue in various cultures if you keep putting white bodies between the pages? In efforts to pay homage to different cultures, what is and isn't okay? Where is the line drawn between cultural appreciation and appropriation?
What do you all think about this? I would love to hear your takes! Leave me a comment and let's make this a conversation.
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