Why some say Gigi Hadid’s “Vogue Arabia” cover is cultural appropriation

Vogue is best known as being a fashion bible, and its latest print iteration is none other than Vogue Arabia. The glossy is the 22nd edition of Vogue and caters to fashion lovers in the Middle East. It’s also why the magazine has been facing backlash for putting model Gigi Hadid in a hijab on the cover of its inaugural March 2017 issue.

Gigi posted the cover on Instagram, noting that as a half Palestinian woman, she’s proud to be on the cover and celebrate the diversity that makes fashion so exciting. And although we agree with the sentiment (and can’t deny how stunning the cover is) we still have to ask,

Why didn't Vogue put a model who actually wears a hijab on the cover?

After all, the magazine could have conceivably featured someone like Halima Aden or another hijab-wearing Muslim woman. But not all Muslim women choose to wear hijabs, which makes this dialogue a little bit trickier. And even though Gigi isn’t Muslim herself, she did march in protest of the Muslim Ban and she is Middle Eastern.

So where’s the line? How can we decipher what is and what isn’t cultural appropriation? It’s not an easy discussion. But the first step is representation, which means more models of color, more models of different cultural and religious backgrounds and more models of different gender identities. As strikingly beautiful as this cover is, this still isn’t enough. Many women aren’t lucky enough to claim their heritage only when it’s convenient for them. But let’s not forget that the onus does not lie on Gigi. Yes, she was the cover model, but the photo shoot involved many people.


We need our fashion editors, creative directors and the fashion industry in general to get behind expanding what it means to be cover-worthy.

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