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British Vogue is catching heat for their February cover.

The fashion magazine’s latest issue features nine Black models -all of whom originate from different parts of Africa. The storied publication said that its goal was to depict a more inclusive representation of beauty in the fashion industry, but some social media goers were outraged by the way the models were presented, noting that the women were not wearing their natural hair and that their skin had been intentionally darkened.

“All those amazing models represented (finally) and yet, not one wearing natural hair, really?” one person commented underneath the photo.

Another social media user wrote:

“This is ridiculous asf. We all know that thier skin ain’t black like that. Why the over exaggerating of their melanin undertones. This is more like mockery and any intelligent thinking person will see right through.”

While a third person commented:

“It’s powerful…but the photo is awful! The background is so gloomy and it’s really not highlighting their beauty!”

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Behind the scenes footage from the shoot captured the women’s cheerful personalities as they prepared for the historic cover. Some critics slammed the publication for not portraying their radiant smiles, while a few users noted that some of the model’s complexions appeared lighter in the video than what was seen on the cover. One social media goer wrote in response to the clip:

“Love to see the representation but I’m still waiting for the space & time that Black women can exist in their own skin, hair & bodies. As they are, no ‘adjustments.”

 

Overall, fans of British Vogue were happy to see the magazine paying homage to African women and their rich melanin on the cover story, but some wondered if Brazilian photographer Rafael Pavarotti, who shot the front cover, altered the models’ complexion to appear more “acceptable” to the white gaze. Some critics argued that perhaps this is how white people see someone with African heritage. Others noted that the women’s darker skin was a direct reflection of the media’s problem with “othering” Black people. Some users claimed that their appearance almost seemed unnatural.

“When I thought about the layered statement that the photo was making, I find it intriguing that we are still in a place culturally where showing Black models in that way is still a bit of an event and that it’s not something that necessarily happens organically, but it’s something that has to be considered and has to be intentional,” Robin Givhan, The Washington Post’s Senior Critic At Large explained during an interview on CNN.

While the women’s appearance may have been slightly exaggerated, Givhan ultimately applauded British Vogue’s Black editor and chief Edward Enninful, for being “intentional” about capturing a more diverse view of beauty. Givhan argued that the photoshoot celebrated the African model’s beautiful skin in a profound way by reclaiming some of the harmful stereotypes about darker skin complexions. The cover features models Adut Akech, Amar Akway, Majesty Amare, Akon Changkou, Maty Fall, Janet Jumbo, Abény Nhial, Nyagua Ruea, and Anok Yai.

You can read British Vogue’s full statement about the cover below:

“With a new generation of models in the spotlight, fashion is, at last, embracing what it is to be truly global. The nine models gracing the cover are representative of an ongoing seismic shift that became more pronounced on the SS22 runways; awash with dark-skinned models whose African heritage stretched from Senegal to Rwanda to South Sudan to Nigeria to Ethiopia. For an industry long criticized for its lack of diversity, as well as for perpetuating beauty standards seen through a Eurocentric lens, this change is momentous.”

What do you think about the photoshoot? Sound off in the comments!

 

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