Kamala Harris's New Vogue Cover Stirs Up Controversy
The vice president–elect appears on one cover in her beloved Converse sneakers, but some commentators don't think the magazine should have taken such a casual route.
Kamala Harris covers the February issue of Vogue, but the photograph chosen for the newsstand is already generating controversy. The Vice President–elect, 56, combines an elegant blazer and black pants with her famous Converse sneakers. She is pictured in front of a green and pink background, as a nod to the colors of Alpha Kappa Alpha, her sorority at Howard University. Though Harris often wears sneakers when on the road, many have argued that showing this powerful woman in such a casual pose is disrespectful.
"The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President–elect Harris's authentic, approachable nature — which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration," a spokesperson for Vogue told CBS News after facing backlash. "To respond to the seriousness of this moment in history, and the role she has to play leading our country forward, we're celebrating both images of her as covers digitally."
The first Black and Asian woman to be elected to this prominent political role recognizes there is a lot of hard work ahead. "There is a great responsibility that comes with being a first," Harris said. "I always say this: I may be the first to do many things — make sure I’m not the last. I was thinking of my baby nieces, who will only know one world where a woman is vice president of the United States, a woman of color, a Black woman, a woman with parents who were born outside of the United States."
When she and President-elect Joe Biden get to the White House, their first priority will be battling the coronavirus pandemic. "We think about the first 100 days in terms of what we need to do to support mayors and governors and local officials around their distribution and their public health systems," she explained. "When we get control of this pandemic, that's going to be a critical factor in being able to reopen our economy."
Another photo from her Vogue shoot shows her wearing a powder-blue suit. Tyler Mitchell, who shot both images, became the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue in 2018, with Beyoncé as the cover star. A source told CBS News that the portrait of Harris wearing the blue suit had been the agreed-upon image for the cover, but it was swapped to the sneakers photo at the last minute, surprising Harris's team.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to Vogue about Harris. "This is a woman who knows what she's doing," she said. "Vice President Harris has already been the 'first' many times in her career. It can't be about trying to please everybody or prove to certain people you're good enough for the job. And the vice president wouldn't be where she is today if she let that kind of thing get to her."
Harris also opened up about her relationship with Biden. She says they were "raised the same way, with the same values" when it comes to "family and hard work." She says she looks forward to working with the 46th president and will always speak her mind. "[I] will always speak truth, always give him my opinion, which will be based on fact and knowledge and life experience, and do it in a way that allows him, when he makes a decision, to make it with full information about the impact — and he has asked me to do that."