It seems as though high fashion model and reality TV star, Kendall Jenner, is always under fire for her projects in the fashion industry. One of her most recent photoshoots for Vogue received a lot of backlash on social media since Kendall was wearing a wig that looked similar to an “afro” hairstyle. The photoshoot for Vogue Magazine’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Spread sparked outrage in regards to the photo falling in the category of cultural appropriation.
Many commenters on the Instagram photo claimed that within the photo Vogue was trying to make Jenner have similar appearances to a an African American girl. People on social media felt as though Jenner and the Vogue team were completely negligent as to how the makeup and hair could appear to copy black traits.
One fan commented on the post stating that “We used to have our hair burned . . . now they copy our afros but can’t use actual BLACK models.”
The photoshoot was inspired by the late 19th century fashion and hairstyles. Editors at the magazine claimed the shoot was supposed to embody the “Gibson Girl” which were old sketches that personified the ideal of feminine beauty and poise at that time.
Other rising fashion model, Imaan Hammam, was featured in the photoshoot to showcase several finalist designer’s work for the fund prize. In the second photo, Hamman and Jenner are posing in more retro chic getup similar to the style of the 80s. This time Jenner’s hair is teased out and Hamman hair is in a choppy edgy cut with wispy bangs.
Again this photo came under fire for portraying a bigger and more dramatic “afro” hairstyle on Jenner. However, there were social media users that claimed that the backlash had gone too far since both photos were clearly tapping into a fashion period. In the second case, the style of the photo was to embody the look of the music scene and curly perms that both Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand rocked.
Jenner has also received plenty of online backlash, most notably for her Pepsi commercial in 2017 that most critics mocked as completely tone deaf to plenty of social movements. Not to mention, Jenner got plenty of negative outcrys when she booked her first Victoria Secret Fashion show in 2015 where she replaced a black model. This was the apparent reason Rihanna had backed out of performing at the show in showing support for the replaced model, Jourdan Dunn.
There is plenty of toss up on whether the photoshoot was taken too critical and whether Jenner should have realized how the photos could be depicted. Although, Jenner is not the main creator behind the scenes and probably more of the flack should be given to those large heads of the corporations and the magazines. With enough people pitching ideas and running campaigns, those in power have seen the ideas enough to know whether they will be accepted by the public or not.
Despite the controversy, Jenner is still the highest paid model in the world and her high-powered career isn’t stopping anytime soon. The question is whether most of Jenner’s hate is based on whether she will maintain the same amount of respect from her fanbase.