Vogue‘s September issue is always its biggest issue of the year, and this year’s is even bigger than usual, as the publication marks its 125th anniversary.
To celebrate the occasion, the fashion magazine chose Jennifer Lawrence as its cover star — the 26-year-old ranks among the highest paid actresses in the world.
Vogue commissioned four artists and photographers to create four separate covers featuring Lawrence for the collector’s issue, which is filled with glossy fashion advertisements and big-name interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Chelsea Manning, and others.
Among the four cover images, the most talked-about is one by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, in which Lawrence stands wearing a crimson Ralph Lauren slip dress in front of the Statue of Liberty.
As is standard procedure after a magazine reveals a buzzy new cover, some readers lauded the work while others lambasted it. Some were disappointed it was Lawrence who had graced the cover, noting the other interviewees featured in the magazine may have been more compelling. And others point to the decision to feature a blond white woman to evoke “American Beauty” — given the current political climate and sensitivity around diversity and immigration — as being tone-deaf and unimaginative.
In an era of immigration (and immigrant) anxiety, is it a LITTLE odd to have JLaw and a gate essentially blocking the Statue of Liberty?
— Matthew Schneier (@MatthewSchneier) August 9, 2017
First Kendall and now Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of the september issue of Vogue. THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE. https://t.co/1Lqrpdidhs
— babe (@HOEtecouture) August 9, 2017
What is Jennifer Lawrence doing at the moment that warrants a SEPTEMBER Vogue Cover
— MYLES (@goldenpolaroid) August 9, 2017
this is the blandest editorial I've ever seen. if i wanted to see the same face that many times I've would have called bella hadid. pic.twitter.com/KrILfpPd4R
— black silk (@chaneloasis) August 9, 2017
American beauty? Only a white actress defines that??
— BOX (@LoveSpent12) August 9, 2017
And if you accept the charge that placing a textbook “girl next door” instead of a more diverse candidate in front of the Statue of Liberty is missing the mark, that’d make two consecutive American Vogue covers to be guilty: Last month’s featured cisgender straight celebrity couple Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik as representatives of a more gender-fluid America.
But, perhaps surprisingly, the criticism lobbed against Vogue’s September issue crosses the political aisle.
John Carney, an editor at alt-right outlet Breitbart, tweeted his own frustration with the cover, suggesting the leftist establishment media — in this case Vogue — weaponized the Statue of Liberty against the right.
— John Carney (@carney) August 10, 2017
Carney then goes on to point out that the Vogue cover follows months of other magazine covers, typically those from left-leaning publications like the New Yorker, that feature editorialized versions of Lady Liberty that, in his view, serve as attacks against the “alt-right.” That left more than a few people scratching their heads. (Yahoo Style reached out to Carney for clarification, but he did not respond.)
Whether or not you believe Carney’s charge, the Vogue cover — released in mid-August but conceptualized and shot months before — comes just as the Statue of Liberty itself serves as a lightning rod between the media and members of the Trump administration.
A few days before the cover was released, White House adviser Stephen Miller engaged in his own heated debate with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a press conference, in which the two quibbled about whether Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” inscribed on the statue’s pedestal, represented free and open immigration policies.
It’s only too bad neither Miller nor Acosta had a Vogue cover handy to enliven their case.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.