Every so often something happens in celebrity-ville that gets everybody’s undies in a twist. I say this because I am kind of appalled by the way we are all so quick to judge, sentence and execute. Actually no, it’s not even the judgment that bothers me, it’s the way the execution is carried out. “Trial by social media” leave no picture un-trolled! I have to admit, that when I saw Suhana Khan on the August 2018 cover of Vogue India my first two thoughts were, “how come?” and “uh oh” – the latter simply because I know how vicious the www world can be. And at the same time, if the Girl Tribe has taught me anything, it is that it’s entirely possible (and SO important) to have open conversations and debates about things we feel irked by and disagree upon. But whatever we feel, it is how we say it that makes all the difference.
Run this filter by yourself: would you say to someone’s face the things you are typing in their comments? And if the answer is a resounding “no” then it’s time find a different way to express yourself and develop the ability to agree to disagree. I am by NO means saying you should love the cover or even agree with Vogue’s decision to carry it, but I cannot accept the way so many people have so crudely (and cruelly) expressed it. So #ItEndsWithMe.
I know MissMalini is known for its happy shiny content, but on days like this where the conversation is not all rainbows and sunshine, we would be doing everyone a disservice by “glossing” over it. Team MissMalini had a long debate on this very topic on a private chat today and I think by sharing it we will prove that everyone is capable of civil debate and discussion, that will leave the world less scarred, even if it remains divided.
Please feel free to add your comments and thoughts below, you have EVERY right to your opinion. I 100% agree with that, but I urge you to do it with empathy and kindness and just as you would hope to be discussed, if it were you.
priyamsaha: LOTS of conversations on Internet today (publishers and social media) about Suhana Khan’s Vogue cover and how it’s unfair. Just letting you know… And Vogue India is getting called out for disabling comments on this…
meriamahari: Thanks for sharing @priyamsaha. We should def cover. Everyone has a right to call this out, no?
missmalini: I am pretty sure they feel she’s a valid cover. Even though it may feel wrong to some. I don’t love the styling but I totally understand the cover logic. Just like we would jump at an interview with her to be honest. It’s just how celeb kid stardom is. People would flock to read it.
priyamsaha: Also this has come at a time when Vogue US featured Beyonce, gave her “unprecedented control” and Beyonce hired the first black photographer to shoot a cover in the publication’s 126-year history. And Vogue UK feats Rihanna – the first black woman to front the September fashion issue in the magazine’s history. Sept Issue is considered the most imp fashion issue for Vogue.
missmalini: Not about being in favor or against. It’s a different country, with different aspirations. I also think Vogue is a different beast altogether and can be intimidating to read for most people who feel self-conscious.
rashmi.bhosale: Also, just after Janhvi’s cover. Maybe, that’s why the backlash as well.
nowshad.rizwanullah: One thing is for sure: look at how much we’re debating this. We should definitely cover this.
missmalini: Perhaps I shall write a post. @channel
nowshad.rizwanullah: It’s clearly a talking point
missmalini: I’ll do a blog asking the question. How do we feel about this cover? You are free to have your own opinion of course. I’ll write my piece and you can feel free to comment share, not share, barf, etc. Lol. @nowshad.rizwanullah I am going to revoke my request to put you on the next Man’s World cover as Bangladesh’s finest. Hahaha
Also, see this comment channel, what if it was you. Would you refuse to do the cover?
shravan: I completely agree with what the user said.
nowshad.rizwanullah: I agree we shouldn’t be angry or upset about it. The point is we shouldn’t be afraid to engage in respectful debate about this. I would love if we wrote a piece that explains both sides of the argument. My stance: Vogue has a right to use it’s cover as it sees fit. This particular choice seems like a missed opportunity and will unnecessarily call their editorial integrity into question. That said, it’s sure to generate discussion and perhaps that’s the point. Either way, I hope the debate doesn’t become a hate-fest on her because most people would not turn down a Vogue cover, so good for her.
shreemi: Exactly, when Vogue is pushing boundaries worldwide, in India we’re still featuring star kids.
missmalini: So the question is are we mad that she got the opportunity? Or that she took it? Or that Vogue is different in India than in the US?
shravan: Are we really mad? Because personally for me it was just a cover with a star kid just like we had Janhvi.
missmalini: I personally didn’t love Jhanvi’s cover, but I respect that she said she knows she is getting a free ride as a star kid till she proves herself.
rashmidaryanani: The problem isn’t Suhana really, it’s the magazine and the larger culture. I believe that absolutely does deserve to be called out, even if the hate towards her personally is unwarranted.
At this point we moved the conversation over to our entire team…
karishma_govil: @missmalini I feel like if they were going for a “youthful” look, they shouldn’t have dressed her up as someone in her late 30s.
nelly: I just feel like she’s a teenager, they could have styled her to look her age and maybe given her something that represented her style… as opposed to seeing her from the stylists perspective… also the amount of Photoshop feels very uncomfortable to look at.
jessica_mendonce: I think the conversation is about privilege and access. I have nothing against her or star kids. Featuring a star kid because they are making a movie, or making their debut makes sense. This just seems to be because she is a star kid. I think Vogue has done itself a disservice. Across the world, their covers highlight people at the pinnacle of achievement. And they are reducing the value of that…
swags: I think she looks very pretty. But like Karishma said, they could have kept her look more ‘youthful’. The media often receives criticism for writing about the younger star kids. They should have presented her like a teenager.
komal: Also didn’t we see this coming though?
rashmidaryanani: What especially stands out about this one is that Suhana hasn’t even announced a debut film – so it’s not even necessarily that she’s an upcoming movie star, like Janhavi was during her cover. I think we all understand celebrity culture more than others, and I, at least personally, am more likely to give leeway to star kids and star kid culture because we’re all guilty of endorsing it. But this one is a stretch.
Vogue disabling the comments on their Instagram post feels like an admission of knowing it’s wrong.
I also think she’s a young girl who got a huge opportunity and took it and I can’t/won’t fault her for that.
rashmi.bhosale: The first time I saw the cover, I had to look at it again. I couldn’t recognise her tbh. It’s because we still consider her as a star ‘kid’ and not someone who has blossomed into such a beautiful woman. But I still believe it doesn’t capture who she is. She is young, youthful and charming. It feels like she has skipped a step and introduced us to a new her.
Featuring Janhvi Kapoor and then Suhana Khan, the backlash was predictable. What garners attention internationally, unfortunately, is irrelevant to our masses. Maybe that’s why the decision of starting up a conversation just like this one resulted in this cover.
shreemi: Bollywood has come under fire (rightly so) for being clique-y and non-inclusive. Star kids are given a lot of chances to prove their worth. Even if offers for lead roles dry up, they often play miscellaneous characters in franchise films (hello Bobby Deol and Abhishek Bachchan). Handing out Vogue covers to Jahnvi Kapoor or Suhana Khan reinforces the point that you don’t have to do much if you have a famous surname.
shravan: My stance: I feel that firstly there is too much attention given to a magazine cover. We’ve had star kids grace magazine covers before and this one was not a surprise either. Yes, I agree that she hasn’t made her Bollywood debut yet but the kind of fan following she has on social media and the coverage she gets in the media is proof enough that everybody wants to know about her. Maybe that’s the same thought the publication went through. Talking about the nepotism angle in it, I think it’s high time people make peace with it. Nepotism is in every field. The sooner you understand it the better. She is a star kid so what? She got the opportunity she took it. if you were in her shoes, wouldn’t you?
jessica_mendonce: I also agree with what @rashmidaryanani said about being a young girl who got a big opportunity and took it. This isn’t on her.
nelly: I don’t think the argument is about her choice in the matter, I think everyone is really looking at this from a bigger perspective… anybody privileged or not would jump to the opportunity of being on Vogue…
priyamsaha: The thing with celebrity culture is that we all are a part of it. Let us not even for a second pretend that we don’t double tap every Taimur photo we see. However, a Vogue cover in Bollywood (and internationally) has great aspirational value for millions of people who grow up wanting to be in the industry. To feature Suhana Khan – who is Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter – where her peg on the cover is that she is ‘Student, theatre lover and future star’ seems a little unfair.
Having said that, it’s a great opportunity for a young girl and sure, I can be happy for her because this doesn’t affect my life or career in anyway. But when everyone is finally talking about how dynasty is winning over talent and how an “outsider” needs to work twice as hard to even get their feet in the door, this seems insensitive.
nehaj: The fact that there is this debate – is exactly why Vogue did it. They anticipated eyeballs and conversation around this cover – and that’s what they are getting. Next month they will probably feature something that we will all applaud – just to counter the backlash for this cover. At the end of the day, every business decision can’t always cater to the greater good. (I’m binge watching Suits – my concept of reality is slightly skewed at this point.)
nelly: Lol @nehaj for referencing suits
missmalini: Let me ask you this though, if it was our blog and we had access to her, would you interview her? Or do a photo shoot with her or say no, she’s not worthy? @channel
rashmidaryanani: @missmalini It’s different. Putting her on our website does not mean not putting anyone else on our website for a month. With a magazine cover, that’s what’s happening – you’re choosing her over EVERYONE else as your face for the month.
If we did an interview or even photoshoot with Suhana, she would live ALONGSIDE a ton of other content featuring more people, more topics. She would not be the ‘focus’ of our site for an extended period of time. @missmalini
nelly: What @rashmidaryanani said ^
missmalini: Right so it’s because she’s on the cover @rashmidaryanani, that’s the problem. The idea of being on the cover of Vogue that has become the mark of true celebrity. That feels premature.
atmaj: I’ve always had an issues with the whole celeb culture. Especially when it comes to magazine covers. A fashion magazine should showcase people who BELONG to the fashion sphere, namely models. We have so many amazing models in our country with such interesting stories that we should focus on highlighting them. That being said, I do honestly believe that Suhana has yet to prove herself when it comes to anything (fashion or Bollywood). She may be popular but that still doesn’t make her cover worthy.
nelly: So I also looked at people’s comments on insta and everyone wishes it was more natural, outdoorsy and should have shown her personality
nehaj: But @channel that’s her personal vibe! All her social media images etc aren’t cutesy.
missmalini: So here’s my two cents. There are probably a few different kinds of people out there.
Those who loved seeing Suhana on the cover because they love her/her dad/the Khan family.
Those who were slightly irked but didn’t really care either way.
Those who are straight up outraged because she hasn’t earned her place amongst those who have graced the cover before.
Those who are perhaps envious. Because why her, why not me? We’re both just as accomplished/not accomplished.
Those who think it’s some sort of large conspiracy between Vogue and Bollywood.
Those who feel like Bollywood doesn’t belong on the cover of a fashion magazine.
Those who didn’t care until everyone else did.
Did I miss anything?
@rashmidaryanani would you put her on the cover of Teen MissMalini if we had a magazine? Is it because it’s Vogue that it’s a problem? Or in general.
rashmidaryanani: @missmalini Vogue for sure has a certain legacy that’s hard to ignore. That just means they’re held to higher standards.
As for Teen MissMalini – sure, I may put her on that. Because the audience is teenagers. She’s a popular teenager, no doubt. It’s also about the angle she’s given on the cover – for eg. growing up in the limelight, dealing with other problems teens would relate to, etc. It makes sense then, and it’s a fit – it doesn’t come down to her qualifications or her work, just about her life as a teenager.
Similarly, don’t think people would have been really irked if she was on the cover of a Teen Vogue.
missmalini: makes perfect sense @ rashmidaryanani
And there you have it. Did we all agree? No, not really. Did we say some hard things? Most definitely. Were we cruel? I don’t think so. And therein lies the rub. For some, it feels weird to see Suhana Khan on the cover of Vogue because the case can be made that we haven’t seen her do anything else, yet. For others it’s perfectly fine. Vogue’s choice, Suhana’s choice, if you don’t like it, don’t buy the magazine. Whether we liked the pictures, styling, setting or story is all relative – there are no absolutes. Should she be able to take this criticism in her stride? Absolutely crucial for any celebrity. Should the critics give it a beat before they open fire? I should hope so.