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The February 2022 cover of British Vogue, featuring nine African women, claims to be redefining what it is to be a model, but the image has sparked fury and dismay on social media over the magazine’s unnatural styling choices.
British Vogue’s Twitter account posted the cover, which featured models Adut Akechangh, Anok Yai, Majesty Amare, Amar Akway, Janet Jumbo, Maty Fall, Nyagua Ruea, Albé Nhial, and Akon Changkou, with straightened hair, under what many are calling unflattering light.
“With a new generation of African models in the spotlight, fashion is at last embracing what it is to be truly global. With British Vogue’s momentous all African February cover, meet the young women redefining what it is to be a model,” the caption read.
With a new generation of African models in the spotlight, fashion is at last embracing what it is to be truly global. With British Vogue's momentous all African February cover, meet the young women redefining what it is to be a model: https://t.co/I5J2Yps09I pic.twitter.com/WAPV2feNob
— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) January 13, 2022
The criticism poured in from social media users, ranging from calls to “do better” from some, while others expressed downright disgust. Here’s a small sampling of those responses from Twitter:
Not impressed. U should've done this years ago…. with better lighting and no fake hair. By the way, how many look like them or me in management with Vogue? #IllWait #DoBetter
— Bernie Frazier, SPHR (@BAFrazier) January 14, 2022
I see what they tried to do here, but why the wigs? Their natural hair needs to be embraced too. The lighting is poor too. https://t.co/nQSMMONLVt
— Melea VanOstrand (@MeleaVanOstrand) January 14, 2022
The photo is too dark. You can't see the models' facial features — just blackness. Any good photographer knows that lighting faces can be challenging. In this case they decided on NO lighting. Even their black clothes show no texture b/c of no lighting.
— Lawrence Aaron (@LawrenceNYC1) January 16, 2022
The ladies are absolutely stunning! But! Calling for a do-over. Ditch those unbeweaveable, 60s vibe, horrible wigs and change the lighting. Do better Vogue
— Rollon2or8 (@Rollon2or8) January 17, 2022
Not a single fro in sight. https://t.co/rIE6vJc56v
— Roseline Nya (@roselinenya) January 14, 2022
In a follow-up tweet, Vogue also posted a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot, which only seemed to fuel the controversy.
“Rows of rails laden with the season’s most sought-after looks, more jewellery than a jewellery store, and a year’s supply of hairspray. Just a flavour of what you can expect on a British Vogue shoot,” the tweet read.
Rows of rails laden with the season’s most sought-after looks, more jewellery than a jewellery store, and a year’s supply of hairspray. Just a flavour of what you can expect on a British Vogue shoot. Watch as the cover stars prepare for their moment: https://t.co/Ytc453EcnW pic.twitter.com/f0XKDvy7uH
— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) January 13, 2022
Would whitening faces beyond recognition so that models literally blend in with the background and have their features disappear also be called a celebration of unique beauty? #beauty #VOGUE #BritishVogue https://t.co/5zlcOv6rEc
— Sylwia Jacob (@sylviaajacob) January 24, 2022
Now why they couldn’t stay their natural complexion on the cover??! https://t.co/p0rsZgVmHo
— Tia💕 (@xxo_tia) January 16, 2022
Why do they have to be altered so much to be praised? They looked NATURALLY dark and beautiful, but vogue edited them to look like caricatures. It’s reminiscent of 1950s blackface and I can’t believe people can’t see this https://t.co/ofOAYdwEmM
— Kiara (@MondeKiara) January 16, 2022
What could have truly been a “momentous” celebration of African beauty has, sadly, become little more than a momentous disappointment, leaving many to ask British Vogue one simple question: Why?
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