By Elle Grant
In recent months, the metropole Hong Kong appears almost daily in news feeds: ongoing protests, clashes with Beijing, the impacts of the new security law, and more. This week, however, Hong Kong finds itself in the news with a less then predictable name: Kylie Jenner.
The 22-year-old makeup and reality television mogul graces Hong Kong Vogue’s self-titled “Action Issue.” She poses in cranberry latex with white hot nails with the text “Act Now” printed across her lap. While the imagery of the cover is elegant, many are calling into question the decision to have Jenner fronting the issue, citing the ongoing dynamics currently in Hong Kong. The cover reveal comes just two days after Hong Kong delays its election, in what many are calling an effort to support the growing pro-Beijing presence in the city and cripple pro-democracy candidates. Both revelations follow years of protests in favor of democracy, with heightened tensions over the last few months due to the coronavirus and a new national security law imposed at the end of June.
Vogue Hong Kong cites on Instagram: “At the age of just 22, her beauty brand #KylieCosmetics has achieved far reaching success, and she is also active in charitable causes including funding surgeries for children with cleft lips and palate through Smile Train” as its reasons behind making Jenner the cover star. Similarly, Jenner gushed about her excitement on her own Instagram, but made no reference to the current political situation in the region. The cover appears especially interesting in context of the September issue of Vogue U.K. which features 20 different activists photographed in black and white.
Diet Prada on Instagram, a notorious critic of the fashion community, writes “Y tho?” when questioning the “Kendall for Pepsi move.” The latter statement is in reference to Kylie’s older sister Kendall Jenner’s own brush with controversy. Severe backlash and accusations of political tone deafness followed her now infamous 2017 Pepsi ad. In the ad, Kendall Jenner hands a police officer a Pepsi at a protest, seemingly in reference to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
Comments, especially on social media, have called out Jenner and Vogue Hong Kong for the decision. “$5 she doesn’t even know what’s going on in Hong Kong,” joked one Instagram user. Another argued for criticism to be steered away from Jenner and instead towards the magazine: “How about you actually put an activist on the cover that stands for the message you’re trying to portray?” Currently, neither Vogue Hong Kong nor Kylie Jenner have commented on the criticism.
See full issue here.