Earlier this week, Vogue India revealed the cover for its upcoming 10th anniversary issue, starring none other than Kardashian affiliate and decidedly non-Indian Kendall Jenner.
Normally, stuff like this wouldn’t be a huge deal—Jenner is obviously a giant star, and Vogue India has featured Blake Lively (which makes sense because she’s part Cherokee), Gisele Bundchen, Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and other non-Indian stars on its cover. The thing is, this is the 10th anniversary issue. One might think that a good way to celebrate ten years of success for an Indian publication might be to feature an Indian model. Vogue did not. And the internet is pissed.
And while Jenner was a terrible idea for the cover, she’s not entirely to blame here. Vogue India has a history of featuring white women and fair-skinned Indian women. Its very first cover from October 2007 featured three women, and centered Australian model Gemma Ward between Bollywood stars Bipasha Basu and Priyanka Chopra.
The April 2010 issue titled “The Dawn of the Dusk” clumsily addressed colorism by casting darker (or “dusky”) models under the banner of “celebrat[ing] the skin tone the world covets,” which shows you where the magazine is coming from.
Overall, Vogue India reflects Bollywood and India’s overall preference for very fair-skinned actresses and models. Also, the magazine uses the same actresses over and over again: Priyanka Chopra has 7 covers, Katrina Kaif has 9, and Deepika Padukone has 11.
So sure, featuring Kendall Jenner as the model was a pretty bad decision for the 10th anniversary cover. Even though the photographer, the very esteemed Mario Testino is selling prints from the shoot, of which all proceeds will be donated to Girl Rising India, a girls education campaign, it does kind of feel like another notch in Jenner’s belt of failed ventures alongside the Pepsi ad and her doomed promotion FyreFest (and that Vogue España cover where she pretended to be a ballerina). But as far as Vogue India goes, and Vogue in general, what, with that Karlie Kloss yellowface spread, it’s not all that surprising.