Dear 'Vogue': Contrary to Popular Belief, We're Not All the Same Person
ed·i·tor: /ˈed·ət̬·ər/ a person who corrects and make changes to texts or films before they are printed or shown.
Vogue magazine is an undeniable authority in the fashion and journalism industries and is arguably the most established, iconic and revered publication of its kind. Interestingly, however, the magazine seems to have neglected to include editors in their publication process in two recent instances, misidentifying six high profile women of color.
Vogue made headlines several days ago when an article reviewing the SAG Awards red carpet misidentified Asian actress Gemma Chan and Tan Kheng Hua for Liv Lo and Michelle Yeoh, respectively. The blunder came no less than three weeks after a similar incident in which Muslim activist Noor Tagouri was misidentified as Pakistani actress Noor Bukhari in their February issue.
Tagouri spoke out about her disappointment, stating “I have been misrepresented and misidentified MULTIPLE times in media publications – to the point of putting my life in danger. I never, EVER expected this from a publication I respect SO much and have read since I was a child” (Quote via).
This issue reveals more than just Vogue’s apparent lack of editorial scrutiny or tact. People of color in any industry are often treated as interchangeable, with remarks such as “you look so much like [insert other person of color]” or “I thought you were the other one” or “you all look the same to me” as a part of everyday life.
Just ask any student of color at a PWI (predominantly white institution) and you’ll get an earful of similar stories. Sure, some famous people really do look like each other, but major publications aren’t confusing them left and right because of the color of their skin or their foreign-sounding names. The people of color being mistaken for one another often look nothing alike; a reporter thought Samuel L. Jackson was Lawrence Fishburne, with the former famously calling him out. You cannot tell me they’re doppelgängers.
More than anything else, the latest blunders are simply tiring. Yet another deep rooted issue in American society that is supposedly resolved through “diversity” or “sensitivity” trainings, yet we’ll undoubtedly see it again next month. I don’t have the answers on how to change this problem beyond simply paying closer attention and being more diligent with how they’re looking at others, especially those we deem different. Maybe start by sending these editors back to journalism school?
Feature image via.