Vogue magazine mistook Muslim-American journalist and activist Noor Tagouri for Pakistani actor Noor Bukhari.
According to Refinery 29, in the February edition of the fashion title featuring Reese Witherspoon on the cover, Tagouri was photographed for a portfolio and identified as Bukhari.
Tagouri posted about her excitement and subsequent disappointment on social media on Thursday morning, where she has a combined audience of more than 435,000 followers.
“I have been misrepresented and misidentified MULTIPLE times in media publications — to the point of putting my life in danger,” she wrote on Instagram. “I never, EVER expected this from a publication I respect SO much and have read since I was a child… Misrepresentation and misidentification is a constant problem if you are Muslim in America. And as much as I work to fight this, there are moments like this where I feel defeated.”
Tagouri told BoF that her stylist, Meme Biltagi, shared the incident with Diet Prada, the account started by Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler that highlights issues such as racism, harassment and copy-cats in fashion and beauty industry.
The account, which now has 1 million followers on Instagram, helped draw attention to the mistake, reposting Tagouri’s reaction about two hours after she did. About an hour later, Vogue issued a correction on its website and apologised on Instagram.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Vogue reached out to Tagouri to apologise and was working on a public statement before Diet Prada caught onto the story.
“We are sincerely sorry for the mistake,” read the Vogue caption. “We were thrilled at the chance to photograph Tagouri and shine a light on the important work she does, and to have misidentified her is a painful misstep. We also understand that there is a larger issue of misidentification in media — especially among nonwhite subjects. We will try to be more thoughtful and careful in our work going forward, and we apologise for any embarrassment this has caused Tagouri and Bukhari.”
When it comes to misrepresentation, tokenism, racism and cultural appropriation in fashion and beauty, the potential for backlash — and financial consequences — is higher than ever before. Today, younger generations are more public about their passion for social and environmental causes and want to reward brands with a point of view that reflect their values.
That means mistakes like Tagouri’s misidentification have much bigger implications. In recent years, Conde Nast has reorganised its fact-checking department, combining the research teams of several of its titles, including Vogue’s, as part of a company-wide effort to share more resources and cut costs.
The title apologised in October after an image of model Kendall Jenner in an afro-like hairstyle received flak on Instagram. “We apologise if it came across differently than intended, and we certainly did not mean to offend anyone by it,” said Vogue in a statement at the time.