Vogue just took one big giant step back when it comes to including diversity in its pages.
After being lauded for putting plus-size model Ashley Graham on the cover of its March issue, the fashion magazine infuriated the Internet with images from a photoshoot featuring white model Karlie Kloss wearing yellowface.
The March issue, ironically, claims to celebrate diversity.
In the shoot, Kloss is dressed up as a Japanese geisha wearing a kimono and traditional Japanese makeup and hairstyles. She also poses with a sumo wrestler, who is, in fact, Asian.
The spread – titled “Spirited Away” – was shot in Japan by photographer Mikael Jansson and styled by Phyllis Posnick.
The issue is supposed to feature women of all different shapes and ethnicities, but it's clear from this photoshoot that the editors at Vogue are tone deaf when it comes to whitewashing. And people weren't having it.
"Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Tilda Swinton turn to Karlie Kloss. 'Your turn, girl.' Karlie on phone: 'Hello, Vogue? Make me Asian,'" joked one Twitter user.
Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Tilda Swinton turn to Karlie Kloss. "Your turn, girl."
Karlie on phone: "Hello, Vogue? Make me Asian." pic.twitter.com/zgUWIB022Q
— Ira Madison III (@ira) February 14, 2017
This was a reference to Hollywood's whitewashing problem, with recent examples being Scarlett Johansson cast in a remake of the Japanese movie "Ghost in the Shell," Emma Stone playing a half-Asian character in "Aloha" and Tilda Swinton cast as The Ancient One — a character of Tibetan descent — in "Doctor Strange."
"Apparently nobody sent the 'yellow face is in fact racism' memo to Vogue," another Twitter user wrote.
Apparently nobody sent the "yellow face is in fact racism" memo to Vogue. https://t.co/mPK8mDoNYu
— Amelia Brahan (@frglmasculinity) February 14, 2017
Others pointed out the irony that Vogue featured yellowface in its diversity issue.
SHE DID YELLOW FACE IN THE DIVERSITY ISSUE 🙃🙃🙃 https://t.co/E5J1isp4GF
— Ainee Athar (@AineeWrites) February 14, 2017
They also noted that Chinese model Liu Wen and mixed race model Imaan Hammam only got one photo each in the issue, while Kloss got a six-page spread.
Karlie Kloss gets a 6-page spread in yellowface for Vogue's DIVERSITY ISSUE... while Imaan Hammam & Liu Wen get one pic each... the irony pic.twitter.com/fXn9Ikz7ik
— Nerdy Asians (@NerdyAsians) February 15, 2017
People weren't impressed with Vogue's laziness and cultural appropriation.
— 🎀Yonce🎀 (@nodiggity95) February 14, 2017
This is why Vogue is cancelled. Their idea of "edgy" is hiring white people to imitate other races instead of just hiring diverse models. https://t.co/29lUkHfjLn
— The Glossier (@theglossier) February 14, 2017
There is a whole country called Japan with Japanese women and they picked a white girl. Wow. https://t.co/9xedXXLQBJ
— busan babe™ (@melaninbarbie) February 14, 2017
As of press time, Vogue hasn't released a statement about the racism in its pages. Kloss, however, took to Twitter apologizing for participating in the photoshoot.
— Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) February 15, 2017
"These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive," she wrote. "My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission. Sincerely, Karlie."
As New York magazine points out, Vogue the brand has a history of cultural appropriation and racism. Vogue Italia published a feature on "slave earrings" and French Vogue put model Lara Stone in blackface.
So, why couldn't Vogue have just hired a Japanese model? Come on, Vogue. You can do so much better.