We all know that Black and brown people don’t actually look alike, no matter how much white people try to push that narrative. But in the world of fashion, publications like Vogue are showing us that they really don’t care if that isn’t true.
In the February issue of the U.S. edition of Vogue, 24-year-old Libyan-American journalist Noor Tagouri was featured and wrongly named as Pakistani actress Noor Bukhari. Noor posted a video about her excitement over seeing herself in a copy of Vogue, but that excitement quickly turned to sadness when she saw that her name was wrong. See the video below:
The painful video filmed by Noor’s husband, Adam Khafif, shows the Muslim-American journalist shrieking gleefully as she sees herself rocking a full Givenchy look. “So cool,” she says excitedly. But as the camera zooms in, she says, “Are you kidding?” Noor sees that she was not only named wrong, but her job and all the work she has done was misidentified, as well. She captioned the video saying, “I’m SO heartbroken and devastated. Like my heart actually hurts. I’ve been waiting to make this announcement for MONTHS. One of my DREAMS of being featured in American @VogueMagazine came true!!”
The publication offered an apology on their social media accounts and a correction on their website.
In a country where the identities of Muslims continue to be stereotyped and generalized, this mistake is not one that should be taken lightly. But to Noor, this is one that happens often and she wasn’t surprised about at all. In an interview with Fashionista, Noor recalls what she was thinking when she saw her name printed wrong.
“I thought it was a typo. I can give you 10 times off the top of my head, including today, where people have misrepresented and misidentified my work or my career. I've had a job in journalism since I was 15 years old,” Noor explained. “It's so hard to get that recognition because people are so baffled by the fact that someone that looks like me does work. And it's because it never fits their narrative and that's what's most frustrating."
This isn’t the first time that the journalist has been misidentified, and in 2018, her photos were used to identify the wife of the Pulse nightclub shooter, Noor Salman. She was also featured in Brides Magazine, and she believed the photos were, “incredibly misrepresentative.” Because of this, Noor says she went the extra mile to make sure this didn’t happen again.
This isn’t even the first time that Vogue has done this, and Justine Skye was their last victim. British Vogue tweeted a photo of Justine Skye with three white models, including Kendall Jenner, and identified them all by name except Justine. Check out the tweet below:
The singer took it in stride and tweeted, “This really isn't that big of a deal compared to other situations we face as black women…” But misidentifying and disregarding Black and brown women stems to a much deeper issue: they don’t believe that they belong in the sea of affluent, beautiful white faces.
"When people in newsrooms who are covering our community are just turning stories out and not really thinking about 'how is the way I'm reporting the story going to affect the Muslim community today?' There's this huge disconnect," Noor said when she was first misidentified.
The reaction from the public ranged from disappointed to not surprised in the slightest. Some Instagram users even believed that Noor should be able to tell her story in a cover issue with Vogue while others blew off their apology when they referred to a person of color as a "nonwhite subject."
“I'm so grateful and humbled by the support and conversation this has started," Noor says. "This wasn't about ME being misidentified and represented - it was about all marginalized people who are constantly an afterthought and not truly seen."
Despite the mistake, Noor has chosen to use this as a teachable moment for the publication and says, “I had a great conversation with their executive editor about not just putting a Band-Aid on this, how we can use this as a wake-up call for a publication that has a long way to go. They have a lot of work to do when it comes to representation and diversity and inclusion, and it can't just be to fill a quote or tokenize a people. It has to be because you care about these communities that you've overlooked for so long."
Mistakes like this, unfortunately, happen far too often, especially when there are not any people of color in the room. Hopefully, the wrong done to the likes of Noor Tagouri and Justine Skye can be examples to publications and open the conversation on how to better serve and represent women of color.