Lilly Singh: 'Vogue' Kamala Harris Cover Controversy Is an "Issue of Representation"

Lilly Singh - Publicity- 2019 NBCUniversal -H 2019
Courtesy of NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The host shared some of her own photoshoot woes as a woman of color.

Like many internet commentators — and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ team itself — Lilly Singh is disappointed with the future VP's February Vogue cover photo.

On Wednesday’s episode of A Little Late With Lilly Singh, the host took issue with the magazine for the lackluster image that was selected for the cover shot.

Upon first hearing the news that Harris would be gracing the February issue of Vogue, Singh said she was ecstatic. “I was like, this is amazing,” Singh said. “Representation? Uh, hello? Yes, please.”

But her reaction to the cover itself was less than thrilled. “When this photo was released, the internet immediately freaked out, and with good reason,” Singh explained. “Because we're just like, ‘Is this the best that you can make the VP look?’”

The print version of the cover features Harris standing in casual attire and Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. Following backlash to the photo, Vogue released a digital version of the cover featuring the vice president-elect in a powder blue suit.

“Way better,” Singh said of the digital cover. “The lighting, the blue power suit, the confident smile. That smile right there says 'Hey, don’t worry. You can enjoy sleeping again.'"

Singh continued: “I just don't get it. Y’all figured out how to put Harry Styles in a gown, but you can't figure out how to put Kamala Harris in a jacket.”

As a woman of Indian descent herself, Singh claims she wasn’t surprised by Vogue’s choice.

“Being a woman is hard enough during photoshoots, but when you got some melanin, things are even tougher,” she said. “And honestly, it's an issue of representation. … I just think they don’t have enough experience shooting people of color.”

Singh also called out issues of body representation in the media.

She recalled a photoshoot for a magazine, in which she provided her measurements in advance. Still, when she arrived to set, none of the outfits fit properly. When the photoshoot team suggested that Singh put on the outfit “to the best of [her] ability,” Singh expressed discomfort at the situation.

“These are the things that people don’t think about when they say that privilege isn’t a thing,” she said.

“So I’m glad Kamala is on the cover of Vogue,” Singh said. “I mean, it is amazing, and to be honest, if she wanted to be more relatable with this photoshoot, she definitely accomplished that because we can all relate to being tagged in horrible pictures.”

She then added, “But Vogue needs to step up and learn how to make women of color look just as good as everybody else.”

Vogue released the following statement about the cover photo: "The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris's authentic, approachable nature--which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration. To respond to the seriousness of this moment in history, and the role she has to play leading our country forward, we're celebrating both images of her as covers digitally."

Watch the full clip below.