When Kamala Harris’ Vogue photoshoot covers were revealed, people were outraged for a number of reasons: the choice of clothes, background colors and even the unflattering lighting. One of the greatest issues this cover poses, however, is that it seems to glorify Harris as a celebrity icon. Indeed, the clashing pink and green cover has a blurb that says “The United States of Fashion,” which makes sense because Vogue is primarily a fashion magazine, but it seems to focus more on Harris as an idealized figure in fancy clothes rather than making her look like the newest second-in-command of our country. Harris is not the first female politician to be featured in, or on the cover of, Vogue, but she should be the last. Politicians should not be treated like celebrities because being treated as anything other than civil servants puts them on a pedestal they should not be on.
It should not be a surprise that female politicians have it hard. After years of men dominating the political sphere, women still have a difficult time being taken seriously in politics even in the modern world. To take the first woman who has come into the vice presidency and feature her hobbies or fashion sense, rather than solely her plans for the country, cheapens her political goals and achievements by placing them side-by-side with frivolities like what clothing brand she’s wearing or how she does her eyeshadow. Though women can absolutely hold a powerful office position and enjoy fashion, magazines taking Harris and suggesting that they only will be focusing on her fashion undermines her status as a politician. As a contrast, President Joe Biden has been featured on a number of magazine covers with no emphasis on his fashion choices or makeup routine. Furthermore, this could be taken by misogynists as a sign that women shouldn’t be in office because they still enjoy and prioritize conventionally feminine things. Consequently, if this ridiculous belief is upheld, it’ll make obstacles for other women in politics much more difficult to overcome in the future.
Not only that, but to feature politicians on the covers of magazines as though they are celebrities places them in almost idolized positions that politicians simply should not be put in. To be put on the cover of Vogue, or any major fashion magazine, may mean being “the avatar of a cultural movement,” but when you consider that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and now Harris have been put on magazine covers that have featured the likes of Kendall Jenner or Harry Styles, then things start to not add up. Politicians should be seen as politicians, not like models or singers. To put them on magazine covers that are usually dominated by idealized celebrities and vapid gossip elevates politicians to an untouchable position that civil servants should not uphold. Not to mention that this celebrity status would also make these individuals appear untouchable, as no one wants to cancel their favorite celebrity no matter what the celebrity does. This is not a status suitable for a civil servant; if they mess up, they should be rightfully criticized, not made teflon because the public “stans” the way they dress.
Instead of plastering politicians’ likenesses on covers, we should instead seek to show them our appreciation through approval polls, attending their events and supporting them when they support what we, as a nation, believe in. Though politicians should absolutely be allowed to talk about their hobbies or what they like to wear, they should not be put in magazines where models and actors share the pages. All people should be seen as human and not painted to be these larger-than-life figures, especially civil servants who must maintain the balance and composure of someone in a political office. It’s a difficult line to walk, but in order to keep politicians from appearing like people who cannot be touched or held accountable, it is a necessary one.