STYLE

Teen Vogue Under Fire For Featuring 'White Model' In Senegalese Twists Story

06/24/2015 03:00 EDT | Updated 06/25/2015 07:59 EDT
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Cultural appropriation has become quite a hot topic in the fashion world as of late, and not even Teen Vogue can escape it.

For the mag's current issue, beauty and health director Elaine Welteroth wrote a piece in which she discusses her experiences with Senegalese twists. She talks about getting her twists done during a trip to Rwanda and about how people reacted when she returned back to New York City.


Online, her article is accompanied by personal photos of her trip, showing her sitting down while a group of African women work on her locks. The images offer a diary-like look at the experience, which lends itself well to the actual piece of writing.

But the print version of the story, on the other hand, has many people scratching their heads.

Readers have criticized the mag for choosing model Phillipa Steele -- who appears to be white -- to appear in the story. However, Steele told Models.com she's half Fijian, as well as Tongan, French, English and American.


The print issue also features a collage of celebs and models, like Zendaya and Zoe Kravitz, who've rocked similar hairstyles in the past.

People took to Twitter to express their outrage over the fact Teen Vogue used a "white model" for their photo shoot.

Welteroth defended the choice of model by responding to a comment on Instagram. She wrote:

"How do you define black? Just curious. Is it about skin colour? Eye colour? Hair texture? I ask because this mixed-race model is as black as I am. Also, how do you define cultural appropriation? I ask only because I want to better understand your point of view."

Steele also commented on Instagram, saying, "For the record, if anyone even cares. Yes im [sic] half black and half French."

What do you think of the controversy? Let us know in the comments below.

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