What’s being sold as a Vogue magazine cover celebrating African beauty is being criticized for making Black women look “tragic.”
The February 2022 cover of British Vogue featuring nine Black models is coming under fire by critics on social media who say poor lighting, makeup and styling make the women appear unnatural.
The cover features models Adut Akech, Anok Yai, Majesty Amare, Amar Akway, Janet Jumbo, Maty Fall, Nyagua Ruea, Abény Nhial and Akon Changkou.
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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
A behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot that Vogue posted on social media shows the models having their hair and makeup done, and some of their skin tones are lighter in the video.
The cover was shot by Brazilian photographer Rafael Pavarotti, with makeup by Ammy Drammeh and styling by British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, who is British Ghanaian.
“I saw all these incredible models from across Africa who were just so vivacious and smart,” Enninful says about his inspiration in the accompanying article.
He adds, “Fashion tends to follow waves. We’ve had the Brazilian wave. We had the Dutch wave, the Russian wave, the Eastern European wave… And while, in the last decade, the Black model has come to prominence, I love that we are finally giving more space to African beauty.”
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But critics say the cover photo is unflattering.
“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?” author and speaker Bernie Frazier tweeted.
“It’s bloody awful. The styling and aesthetic is entirely wrong. We, as usual, have been erased. This isn’t #BlackGirlMagic, it’s Black Girls Tragic. Sack the damn stylist and photographers. In fact, sack the entire team. Smdh,” writer Taiwo Williams tweeted.
“The fact people are praising them for CRUMBS! They put these models in terrible lighting, they dressed them all in black like a funeral and they have them all in terrible 60s style wigs,” another person added.
“Africa can do better than what’s on show here,” someone else tweeted.
Still, others liked what they saw and praised the magazine for publishing a cover celebrating diversity
“Beautiful @BritishVogue, kudos to you for featuring these mesmerising women on the cover,” music artist Henry Fricker tweeted.
“I really like this, why do dark skin girls need high beam lighting all the time, sometimes be creative,” another person wrote on Twitter.
“Black Girl Magic. This is the Vogue cover we never knew we needed,” someone else tweeted.
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