The Brief: Through the Vogue Challenge, people are showing the world what it'd look like if they were a magazine cover star. The Essence Challenge does the same thing while celebrating Black excellence on the cover of a Black-owned magazine.
The Vogue Challenge is a social media trend where people post images of what it would look like if they were on the cover of Vogue. Many iterations of the #VogueChallenge imagine magazine covers that feature Black cover stars. The Vogue Challenge is largely a response to Vogue and other prominent publications being publicly called out for their failings to elevate BIPOC voices, mistreatment of employees, microaggressions, and other issues with diversity and inclusion.
By photoshopping Black folks onto the covers of Vogue, social media users are highlighting Black excellence and revealing what is lost when magazines like Vogue ignore the contributions and potential of Black people in fashion, beauty, style, and beyond. Some individuals are centering themselves in their #VogueChallenge posts while others create covers for models, actors, and other celebrities.
Since we’re doing the Vogue challenge: pic.twitter.com/tjoWAcy5UQ
— Shea Couleé (@SheaCoulee) June 11, 2020
As the Vogue Challenge started spreading on social media, there was some pushback by those who argued that using the magazine’s name and logo was giving free positive publicity to a publication that has repeatedly failed its BIPOC readers and employees.
It’s important that we understand the origin of hashtags so we don’t accidentally co-opt another space. Right now a lot of the art being posted is sadly glorifying Vogue when we should be critical of them right now.
— Charlot Kristensen (@Zolwia) June 10, 2020
vogue don’t deserve most of these covers tbh y’all r too good for vogue
— royal (@rylthm) June 10, 2020
The #EssenceChallenge provides an alternative that highlights the Black-owned and Black-centered magazine Essence instead of Vogue. As Essence features Black cover stars, participants in the challenge don’t have to use Photoshop but can just search the magazine’s archives. For custom covers, the website kapwing.com has an online template for quick editing.
— IsYourMelaninOnFleek (@Ohwaawaa) June 10, 2020
— c (@chuuzus) June 10, 2020
— abracadabra ™ (@destinyallera) June 11, 2020
The Vogue Challenge is popular on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. This challenge can be used to make a statement about representation in media and/or as a way for people to see themselves on the cover of a magazine.
— Kabutha Kago (@muthamakey) June 11, 2020
— Cheikh Kébé (@iamcheikhkebe) June 11, 2020
— Nao (@NAO_SEYCH) June 11, 2020
— Joshua Teplitz (@josh_tep) June 11, 2020
— 𝓜. (@MEENAVOGUEE) June 11, 2020
In addition to Vogue and Essence, some creators are showing what it’d look like if they were on the cover of other magazines.
— $horty leaux (@laurenbrinee) June 11, 2020
#VogueChallenge On TikTok
On TikTok, videos associated with the hashtag #VogueChallenge have been viewed over 400 million times. Creators @itssalmanoor and @davidkim both took credit for starting the trend. One popular sound associated with the challenge is a clip by @zachovergweg in which he sings part of the song “High Power” by KINGMOSTWANTED.
I’m shocked Vogue hasn’t contacted my friends and I🥺