Kamala's 'Vogue' cover shows the limits of authenticity
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Jan 14, 2021
Kamala's 'Vogue' cover shows the limits of authenticity

Even as the dust still settles on the stormed Capitol, many Americans’ political grievance du jour is with the February cover of Vogue. The magazine is under fire for an insufficiently grand image of Kamala Harris – suggesting that ‘authenticity’, though highly-prized, isn’t suited to all portrayals.

A leaked photo of Vogue’s February 2021 cover shows the vice president-elect standing casually, palms clasped, in front of a backdrop of pale pink silk. The cover is notably out-of-step with Vogue’s typical esthetic – both its high-fashion and political features tend towards glamor and grandeur, as the Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama covers attest. But Harris is dressed informally in her own clothes, in what critics have declared a badly-lit, underwhelming, and unauthoritative image – in keeping with the tradition of using images of female politicians against them, but with the uncommon accusation of an ‘overly authentic’ look.