Kendall's cultural insensitivity

10 May 2017 | Pic PR

Our Intern Rose takes a look at Kendall Jenner's recent faux pas...

Reigning Insta-model Kendall Jenner has suffered a few months of ‘bad’ PR now, culminating with her cover of Vogue India that has been dubbed culturally insensitive.

In a notorious advert for Pepsi, she was presented to solve centuries of racial tension by handing police a can of the soft drink. The subsequent media backlash led to the advert being recalled. While the soda company attempted to minimise damages by apologising ‘for putting Kendall Jenner in this position’, this undoubtedly left a Pepsi-coloured stain on her public image.

Just as things began to simmer down for the model, Jenner had the misfortune to be offered a reported $250,000 to promote the disastrous Fyre Festival on Instagram. Pic PR have already covered this calamity, with horrified festivalgoers likening their experience to The Hunger Games. In associating her undeniably powerful brand with such a debacle, Jenner displayed a serious error in judgement. Once the lawsuits hit, there might be more serious repercussions for the celebrity ‘Fyrestarter’.

However, the May 2017 issue of Vogue India was the icing on the cake for Jenner. In the Collector’s Edition of the popular magazine, guest editor and fashion photographer Mario Testino made the grave error of choosing the model as his leading lady. Naturally, the decision to make a white woman the face of an Indian magazine has been severely criticised.

Many have argued that this serves to reinforce the white standards of beauty that predominate in Indian culture. Generating publicity around a white supermodel is surely counterproductive in a country where there is already a high demand for skin-whitening products.

In a subsequent Instagram post, Vogue defended their decision to feature Jenner:

“In the last 10 years, Vogue India has had only 12 international covers, including Kendall Jenner, in 2017. Therefore, statistically, 90 percent of our covers are Indian! And we are proud of that.

India has given the world so many beautiful faces to admire. After all, we are Vogue, an international brand, and we want to give the love back by featuring some of the best international celebrities on our covers. Occasionally! :)”

The passive-aggressive smiley face tells its own tale. Racial cherry-picking is not an uncommon occurrence for the self-proclaimed ‘international brand’. Gigi Hadid, another popular American model, was featured as the cover star of the first issue of Vogue Arabia.

Perhaps our attention should be drawn to the corporations who orchestrate these culturally insensitive adverts and campaigns, rather than the actresses or models who promote them. After all, there can’t really be any bad PR for Jenner; any notoriety she receives just generates more publicity for the Kardashian-Jenner brand. In a month or two, each scandal will tearfully be relayed on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.