Kendall Jenner just can’t seem to catch a break, can she? In only a matter of weeks, she starred in the incredibly controversial and rather insensitive Pepsi commercial and also promoted the hilarious flop that was Fyre Festival. Now, she is being critiqued for gracing Vogue India’s 10th anniversary cover. While it’s understandable that Kendall Jenner is a sought-after model in the industry, her appearance on the Vogue India cover just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s distasteful and disappointing, but it’s not really Kendall Jenner’s problem.
For far too long, the unattainable Eurocentric standard of beauty has been embraced and obsessed over in Eastern countries. Instead of celebrating the beauty of brown skin and empowering POC, Vogue India chose a white American model to inadequately represent India’s beauty and diversity. Out of the estimated 1.2 billion Indians in the world, I find it qwhite interesting how Vogue India couldn’t find a single Indian worthy of featuring on this cover. If it is indeed about the money, Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, who both debuted at this year's Met Gala, could have certainly made the cut. Maybe even Canadian-Indian YouTuber Lilly Singh? Or a member of the Gulabi/Pink Gang, who are a group of Indian women that stand up to domestic abuse and violence?
International editions of Vogue seriously need to learn make decisions mindfully as this is not the first time the publication has been criticised. Gigi Hadid's Vogue Arabia cover sparked mixed reaction and although she is half Arab, her stereotypical Western appearance and lifestyle seemed to offend many.
As a K-Pop fan, one issue that personally bothers me is the way group members ridicule those who have darker skin in a seemingly innocuous manner. In interviews, members constantly express how they’re excited to visit more countries and embrace their culture due to K-Pop’s huge POC following. Yet, they make and normalise jokes about bleaching skin and staying out of the sun as lighter skin is idealised in K-Pop.
It is this Western standard of beauty that the world, particularly the East, has come to follow and embrace openly. Commercials featuring light models and advertisements that promote lightening creams are plastered all over magazines and are played routinely on TV. But is the media enforcing these arbitrary beauty standards? Or is it merely a slave to them?
Colourism is a worldwide phenomenon that needs a lot of work and may sadly never be corrected. It certainly isn’t generically inherent so this instilment of colourism into our human nature needs to be challenged more. How much more social media outrage until the world gets the hint? How can POC feel empowered and content with their own skin colour when leading fashion publications like Vogue constantly degrade the beauty of colour? Thankfully there are more and more social media campaigns on the rise, like #unfairandlovely, that challenge these beauty standards and the inequality engendered by colourism. And, most importantly, embrace and encourage people of colour.