Vogue Challenge: Indigenous And Culturally Diverse Australians Show Importance Of Representation

The social media challenge began as a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.

As the ‘Vogue Challenge’ continues to gain momentum across the world, many culturally diverse Australians are participating in the social media movement that encourages greater diversity in fashion.

The challenge, which involves people creating their own versions of Vogue magazine, began as a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement by Oslo-based student Salma Noor.

Earlier this month Noor shared a black and white image of herself captured by photographer Angèlique Culvin. “Being black is not a crime,” read a caption across the front, with the Vogue title also printed at the top to resemble a magazine cover.

“I am a Black, young Muslim woman who wanted to create something new while speaking on something that is very important,” Noor told Vogue. “I chose Vogue because it’s the standard one strives to reach, and it is one of my favourite magazines.”

Since then, the #VogueChallenge hashtag has been used more than 160,000 times on Instagram, with professional photographers as well as others sharing their work and candid images.

Salma said she was glad to see photographers and other creatives “like Angelique that don’t get enough credit for their hard work”, and would like to see “more models of different ethnicities and skin colours, [exposure for] those without a big platform”.

Some fashion magazines in Australia have previously been criticised for lack of diversity and representation on their covers.

There have been some instances of culturally diverse people featured on Vogue Australia’s covers.

For example, in June 2010, Indigenous Australian model Samantha Harris appeared on Vogue Australia’s cover. Meanwhile the April 2018 cover of Vogue Australia featured Indigenous Australian model Charlee Fraser, model Akiima whose family is from South Sudan, Chinese Australian model Fernanda Ly and Bosnian-Australian trans model Andreja Pejić.

“In the lead up to Vogue Australia’s 60th anniversary last year, I acknowledged we had not included enough Indigenous storytelling in Vogue’s history, and reached out to some extraordinary people who were generous with their advice, guiding our content and celebrations, and who continue to work with us to make sure we do better,” Vogue Australia’s editorial director Edwina McCann said in a statement to HuffPost Australia.

“We have an ongoing advisor and contributors to Vogue Australia, who have introduced us to the talents of some amazing indigenous artists and designers. We’re committed to providing greater diversity and will continue to use our platform to amplify the voices of talented Australians.

“We are honoured that so many talented people are creating their own covers in the Vogue Challenge. At Vogue Australia we find ourselves in awe of their beauty, passion and creativity. We are in contact with a number of the individuals and we hope to collaborate with them soon. ”

Here are some inspiring #VogueChallenge posts shared by Australians from different backgrounds.

Last week Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour apologised for “mistakes” made in her 32-year tenure in not doing enough to elevate black voices on her staff and publishing images and stories that have been racially and culturally “hurtful or intolerant.”

In her email, Wintour referenced the country’s “historic and heartbreaking moment” after the death of George Floyd and other people of colour at the hands of police, events which have sparked rage and grief in protests that have played out for more than two weeks around the world.

“I want to start by acknowledging your feelings and expressing my empathy towards what so many of you are going through: sadness, hurt, and anger too. I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team — I can only imagine what these days have been like. But I also know that the hurt, and violence, and injustice we’re seeing and talking about have been around for a long time. Recognising it and doing something about it is overdue,” Wintour told her staff.

Anna Wintour at Milan Fashion Week. Milan (Italy), February 22nd, 2020 (Photo by Marco Piraccini/Archivio Marco Piraccini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Anna Wintour at Milan Fashion Week. Milan (Italy), February 22nd, 2020 (Photo by Marco Piraccini/Archivio Marco Piraccini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

She also wrote: “Meanwhile, I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”

Wintour said her staff includes “too few” black employees. She didn’t say how many.

“I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward.”

Previous Vogue Australia covers with culturally diverse models:

With additional reporting by AP