Usually by age 10, we know right from wrong—but apparently, Vogue India still has some growing up to do.
Instead of picking a cover model who represents the seriously chic Indian fashion industry, Vogue India’s 10th anniversary issue boasts a face that is becoming far too familiar.
No, it’s not Priyanka Chopra. Deepika Padukone? Nope, not her either.
It’s Kendall Jenner.
*insert traffic-stopping eye roll here*
— Vogue.fr (@VogueParis) May 3, 2017
The cover and spread was shot in the Samode Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan by Mario Testino and features Jenner leaning on all sorts of beautiful Indian architecture, as well as steamy Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
But here’s the thing: to my knowledge, Jenner does not have any connection to India other than her affinity for wearing bindis to Coachella. Which leaves me to wonder, were there seriously no Indian models worthy of this landmark cover?
Let’s be real, it wasn’t a lack of supply, but a lack of judgement on Vogue India’s part. Rather than celebrate what makes India unique and beautiful, the mag basically solidified the industry’s longstanding pursuit of Western whiteness.
There is one slight upside: A limited number of prints from Kendall’s photoshoot are being sold (for a casual $638 each) to raise money for Girls Rising India, an organization created to improve girls access to education. So while the photos send the message that young Indian girls are not beautiful enough, at least the sales generated will give them a slightly higher likelihood of gaining the education needed to stop this madness in the future.
However, even with the promise of charitable donations, there is simply no excuse for this pick. We spoke with an Indo-Canadian model, who asked not to be named for fear that it would impact her future work, and she says her jaw dropped when she saw the cover. Having worked all over the world, including in the Indian fashion industry, the model says that the cover is a reflection of the fact that while white models can work in any country, models of colour still have to struggle to be seen.
And social media seem to share her disappointment.
Vogue India: we’ve completed 10 years in India!
Vogue India: we need to celebrate India!
Vogue India: let’s put Kendall Jenner on the cover!
— Peglet (@PedestrianPoet) May 4, 2017
Kendall Jenner is on the 10 yr anniversary cover of Vogue India. The few opps brown women have to shine are given to white women I’m tiredt pic.twitter.com/D0NoyJeemG
— eemi (@eemanabbasi) May 3, 2017
— Maia (@maiantra) May 4, 2017
— Saba Kapur (@saba_kapur) May 4, 2017
For those hating on Jenner for the cover, I say back off. No model would turn down the 10th anniversary cover of a Vogue magazine. Instead, turn that fury to Vogue India itself. It was the magazine that decided to represent the land of spice and colour with a bland, white-rice equivalent.
“There’s a reason people make a big deal about a cover,” says the Indo-Canadian model. “It’s supposed to be indicative of what’s happening on the inside.”
And with this cover, Vogue India is basically telling Indian readers that what’s inside those pages does not prioritize the unique fashion, culture and people of India.
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but this cover deserves all the judgement it receives.
The Mindy Project’s Take on Male Privilege Is Required Viewing
Kendall Jenner Apology: Does She Owe Us One Post-Pepsi?
Beauty Star: Freida Pinto on Her Life, Career and India – FLARE
Travel Mumbai: What to Do in India’s Largest City – FLARE