Vogue’s Leibovitz-Shot Simone Biles Cover Shows Why Black Photogs Are Needed
By Izza Sofia, 13 Jul 2020
Image via Vogue Magazine
American gymnast Simone Biles is now able to add modeling to her long list of achievements as she is the latest cover star of Vogue magazine.
Shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, the Olympic medalist posed fiercely on the magazine’ August issue in a red one-piece bodysuit against a mustard background. She posed with her back facing the photographer, flaunting her muscle definition and power, yet appearing elegant at the same time.
What made the cover even more powerful was that Biles chose to show off her stretchmarks on her derriere. The unedited stretchmarks have given a strong message to women that she embraces them, and it didn’t stop her from swooping her titles.
For the magazine’s digital cover, Biles showcased her standing split in a flowy maroon dress. She wore her long black hair down as she spread her legs and arms in the powerful pose that deserved a medal itself.
However, many internet users have expressed disappointment towards Biles’ photoshoot as it was a missed opportunity for the publication to hire a black photographer instead.
Many drew reference to the ‘#VogueChallenge’ that trended recently, where people of color created their own Vogue-inspired covers as a way to signal the lack of diversity in the publication. Fans pointed out that the publication could have found photographers of color to hire through that challenge.
Biles’ fans on the other hand, criticized how her photos were captured and edited. A few users have edited her photos to show how the photos should have been better edited to accentuate Biles’ skin tone.
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In recent years, August cover star @simonebiles's rise has taken place against a horrific backdrop. The revelation that Larry Nassar sexually abused hundreds of gymnasts, including all five members of the 2012 Olympic team and four of the five members of the 2016 team, was the first horror. Then it became clear that Nassar had enablers—at Michigan State, where he was on faculty, but also at USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Amid the fallout, Biles emerged as a powerful check on her sport’s governing body. She is the only Olympic gymnast who disclosed abuse by Nassar and continued competing at the elite level. Her willingness to speak out from within the sport has made her an even bigger hero and invited yet more comparisons to iconic athletes with iron moral codes, like Muhammad Ali, though even this parallel is inexact. Sexual abuse inflicts a uniquely isolating mix of stigma and shame. And that’s what this issue's cover story was supposed to have been about: an athlete of unprecedented dominance returning to the Olympics, where to compete at all she has to represent the very organizations that wronged her, and which she has spent the last two years staring down. But then something even more unprecedented happened. The Olympics—well, they disappeared. Overnight, years of carefully laid plans were thrown into limbo. Tap the link in our bio to read the full profile. Photographed in Feb. 2020 by @annieleibovitz, styled by @phyllis_posnick, written by @abbyaguirre, Vogue, August 2020
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A quick exercise in recoloring the #SimoneBiles Vogue cover. The left is the original; the right is my edit.— David L. Morgan (@DavidLeonMorgan) July 11, 2020
I love seeing the beautiful ways our skin captures light emphasized in photos. Accentuating the vibrancy of our hues also contributes to a powerful visual story. pic.twitter.com/4v09BS7G0y
This @Simone_Biles shoot was great but again, I’m disappointed at how many professional photographers don’t know how to treat dark skin. These edits took less than 10 mins to color correct. #VOGUE pic.twitter.com/qVr1mwQOCi— Nowlen Webb (@NowlenWebb) July 10, 2020
Simone Biles deserved better than Annie Leibovitz bad lighting. pic.twitter.com/I7SvmCmKJP— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) July 10, 2020
This photo of THE Simone Biles for Vogue magazine was taken by “THE” Annie Leibovitz. How a person can work as a professional photographer for decades and still be this bad at lighting and photographing dark skin is baffling to me. Annie are you ok? pic.twitter.com/ycaH9LxsLL— Anihtek (@anihtek) July 10, 2020
I adore Simone Biles and am thrilled she’s on this cover... but I hate these photos. I hate the toning, I hate how predictable they are, I hate the social crop here (wtf?) and I super hate that Vogue couldn’t be bothered to hire a Black photographer. https://t.co/az0gLugdzS— Morrigan McCarthy (@MorriganMcC) July 9, 2020
If a black photo editor did Simone Biles' Vogue cover:— Amanda Huggankiss (@vanderHOODsen) July 10, 2020
By whoinvitedkharisma on IG pic.twitter.com/dGPJ6455ii
we literally had a whole twitter trend of black creators doing higher quality photo shoots in their HOMES less than a month ago and now vogue gives us this?!!? simone biles and all other black women deserve better https://t.co/7Oz5o5730V— PROTECT TRANS FOLKS (@arieskinglucas) July 11, 2020
[via Indy100, opening image via Vogue Magazine]
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