Vogue criticised for lack of 'representation' after controversial Harry Styles cover

Joanna Taylor
Tuesday 17 November 2020 10:15
Viral
( Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images )

Harry Styles made history by becoming US Vogue's first male cover star, although cis male drag queens have already been featured on the cover of Vogue Brasil earlier this year.

The singer and actor stunned viewers by wearing a lace-trimmed Gucci dress.

And caused a stir among American conservatives.

While there's no doubt that Styles looked great and should wear whatever he chooses, some have questioned why the fashion industry is centring a cis white man in queer aesthetics yet again.

In an Instagram post, performance artist and author Alok Vaid-Menon put it this way.

Am I happy to see Harry be celebrated for openly flouting gendered fashion norms? Yes. Do trans femmes of color receive praise for doing the same thing every day? No. 

Make no mistake: trans femmes of color started this and continue to face the backlash from it. Our aesthetics make it to the mainstream, but not our bodies. 

Others also called on Vogue to diversify its representation, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ+ cover stars and models.

Black trans people were instrumental in kickstarting the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement and defining gender non-conforming fashion.

But while queer aesthetics have reached the mainstream in the incarnation of figures like David Bowie, Boy George and now Harry Styles, Black trans people have all too often been sidelined and ignored.

To truly help normalise queer aesthetics – particularly given the fact that BAME trans people routinely face disproportionate levels of violence – many argue that the fashion industry must elevate trans people of colour. Just like British Vogue did when Laverne Cox graced its cover.

This is something that, perhaps, Styles – an outspoken advocate for social justice – recognises: after Vaid-Menon shared their Instagram post explaining the importance of celebrating trans femmes of colour in fashion, Styles followed them.

Vogue has been contacted for comment.

Trending