Vogue received some serious and well-deserved backlash after releasing its August cover on Thursday. The cover features Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik as “gender bending” fashion icons, along with a story titled “Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Part of a New Generation Embracing Gender Fluidity.” Vogue refers to both as “embracing gender fluidity” because they borrow clothes from each other’s closets:
The issue? Vogue misrepresents what it’s like to be gender fluid and the struggles gender fluid people experience.
These identities aren’t new. Jacob Tobia, a genderqueer writer and producer summarizes their experience for Cosmopolitan:
The article glamorizes gender-nonconforming and nonbinary identities in a way that makes them look trendy instead of looking at the people who actually identify this way. Most importantly, Gigi and Zayn may be eschewing fashion norms that come with the gender binary, but they’re not actually gender fluid. That identity is not something new to try on, and most of all it is not just a fashion statement. Gender-fluid and gender queer people are human beings, not fads.
Luckily, Vogue is listening, and a spokeswoman issued the following statement:
The headline of the article has also been updated to read, “Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Part of a New Generation Who Don’t See Fashion as Gendered.”
Queer identities have been around for a long time. We need to treat people who defy the gender binary with respect and understand there are real people who identify differently. We’re especially hoping that this mistake leads to an important and necessary conversation about gender identity.