Model Ashley Graham defends controversial Vogue cover

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  • Ashley Graham
    Ashley Graham
    American plus-size model
  • Gigi Hadid
    Gigi Hadid
    Model
The March 2016 issue of Vogue. Photo Credit: Inez and Vinoodh
The March 2016 issue of Vogue. Photo Credit: Inez and Vinoodh

The new issue of Vogue is sparking controversy about the magazine’s so-called diversity problem and alleged airbrushing tactics.

The March issue of Vogue (on newsstands February 21) is devoted to differences in beauty — what the magazine calls “The Great Beauty Shakeup” — and features models of varying ethnicities lined up on a Malibu beach. Liu Wen, Ashley Graham, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah, and Vittoria Ceretti. The problem: Although all seven girls are breathtakingly beautiful, some critics say the lineup is not diverse enough and that nearly all the models have itty-bitty bodies. Others noted that Hadid’s hand partially covers the torso of plus-size model Graham, prompting fans to accuse the magazine of concealing her body.

The outcry on social media was swift. “Ugh. Do better Vogue,” wrote one Instagram follower. “No chocolate sistas SMH,” wrote another. And: “I guess we can grace these covers only if we blend in but standing out is not an option.” Added Instagram user beautifully_anxious: “I love this, but I’d love to see more plus size models on this line up and darker girls.. just saying.”

On Twitter, one user asked, “Am I the only one who thinks it’s hilarious how they’ve used basically the same woman, just slightly less white?” Another criticized the magazine for featuring an Asian-American woman on the cover for first time — with six other models.

Vogue did not return Yahoo Style’s request for comment; however, on Wednesday, Graham defended the cover, posting on Instagram, “I chose to pose like that. No one told me to do anything.”

Ashley Graham in the March 2016 issue of Vogue. Photo credit: Inez and Vinoodh
Ashley Graham in the March 2016 issue of Vogue. Photo credit: Inez and Vinoodh

The Vogue cover is well-meaning enough, but it’s not the first time fashion magazines have been under fire for possible airbrushing and homogenous-looking models. In 2015, Kerry Washington appeared on the cover of InStyle with noticeably lighter skin. In 2013, plus-size actress Melissa McCarthy was photographed for the cover of Elle while concealed in a trench coat — a departure from the fleshier covers of the past (although McCartney told E! News that she had chosen the coat). And in 2010, African-American actress Gabourey Sidibe covered an issue of Elle from the chest up with a lighter-looking skin tone.

Here’s hoping fashion gets more inclusive in the year ahead.

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