Vogue's Diversity Issue Features A White Model Wearing Yellowface

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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.

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.

Others pointed out the irony that Vogue featured yellowface in its diversity issue.

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.

People weren't impressed with Vogue's laziness and cultural appropriation.

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.

"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.