Calling Out The Media: The #VogueChallenge

Like most viral sensations the Vogue Challenge started as a hashtag. What some people don’t realize is that it began on TikTok as a celebration of the magazine in May before it became a call to action. Here’s a breakdown of how one of the most respected fashion publications in the world received a (Black Lives Matter) makeover. 


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 The controversy started last month when the editor-in-chief of Refinery 29 and Bon Appétit resigned after being called out for racially insensitive and offensive behavior. In the days following Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour penned an apology of sorts. She admitted that “Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers, and other creators.” Saying among other things that “It can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you. I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will.”


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In the 127-year history of the publication, there has only been one Black photographer to shoot a cover. Just two years ago Tyler Mitchell became the first African-American photographer to shoot a cover story for Vogue with the September issue starring Beyoncé. Only 21 Black women have appeared on the cover solo. Wintour’s statement sparked a resurgence of the #VogueChallenge. Thousands of Black creators and creatives started reimagining Vogue covers that were high fashion and highly melanated. 



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As the #VogueChallenge gained in popularity some Black creatives opted to stick with the publication that was created to represent them. Essence Magazine is the perfect example of building your own table. For 50 years Essence has celebrated Black style, Black culture, and Black excellence. The #EssenceChallenge was not only a reboot of the #VogueChallenge. It was a reminder that sometimes, you have to create your own lane. It’s a shining example of celebrating those that celebrate you. 


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