Steven Meisel's brand new cover story for Vogue Italia is already drawing the ire of some commentators for showcasing racist stereotypes. Called "Haute Mess" and extensively hyped online — the magazine blogged behind-the-scenes teaser GIFs and sneak peeks to build anticipation — the Internet now seems primed to do what it does best, next perhaps to watching cat videos: discuss at length whether or not something is racist.
The story certainly trades in ethnic stereotypes. The font is based on graffiti. The Sharpie brows and heavy lip-liner bespeak a chola influence. The detailed acrylic nail art says "ghetto fabulous." Oh, dear: a high-end magazine in an industry not known for great ethnic diversity in the imagery it creates is using low-income women of color and the fashion trends they set as inspiration for an editorial spread. Is there any wonder this feels condescending?