fashion

Vogue mixed her up with a different Muslim woman. She's devastated

Updated 18th January 2019
Vogue mixed her up with a different Muslim woman. She's devastated
Written by Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Noor Tagouri shrieks in delight as she opens the latest issue of Vogue magazine to find a dazzling portrait of herself in head-to-toe Givenchy.
"So cool," she exclaims. "Oh my god, I'm freaking out!"
But the video, which was posted to the journalist and activist's Instagram account Thursday, then takes an unexpected turn. The camera zooms in on a photo caption misidentifying her as the Pakistani actress Noor Bukhari.
"Are you kidding?" she sighs.
In a caption accompanying the video, Tagouri expressed her dismay at the error.
"I have been misrepresented and misidentified MULTIPLE times in media publications -- to the point of putting my life in danger," she wrote. "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," she continued. "And as much as I work to fight this, there are moments like this where I feel defeated."
Tagouri later told CNN she wasn't surprised by the mistake and that it happens "more often than not."
"I'm so grateful and humbled by the support and conversation this has started," she said in a text message. "This wasn't about ME being misidentified and represented -- it was about all marginalized people who are constantly an afterthought and not truly seen."
Related: Muslim woman to appear in Playboy wearing hijab
Vogue has since apologized to both Tagouri and Bukhari for the mistake, pledging to "try to be more thoughtful and careful in our work going forward."
"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," the magazine said in a statement posted to its social media accounts. "We also understand that there is a larger issue of misidentification in media -- especially among nonwhite subjects."

Media misrepresentation

It's not the first time that Tagouri, who has recently produced a docuseries on the US sex trade and appeared in Playboy magazine in a hijab, has been misidentified by the media. In 2018, photos of the Muslim journalist were used to illustrate stories about Noor Salman, wife of the gunman responsible for the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando. The error came at a time when she said she experienced elevated levels of harassment and bigotry due to media coverage of Salman and the shooting.
"This isn't just about someone using my photo," she told CNN's Brian Stelter at the time. "It's about the fact that the misrepresentation of Muslims -- especially Muslim women -- in the media today is putting so many people in harm's way.
"When people are covering a story and being reckless about fact-checking or making sure that they're covering the story in a way that isn't putting the community they're taking about in danger, they're not thinking about how this is going to actually affect the people who are being talked about."
Related: What's it like to be a victim of misinformation
Tagouri said some outlets reached out to her and apologized, leading to newsroom trainings on covering the Muslim community with sensitivity.
"When people in newsrooms who are covering our community are just turning stories out and not really thinking about 'how is the way I'm reporting the story going to affect the Muslim community today?' There's this huge disconnect," Tagouri said at the time.

Moving the conversation forward

Following Vogue's apology, some social media users called the magazine out for referring to people of color as "nonwhite subjects." Others urged the publication to feature Tagouri in a future issue.
"Noor is not a 'nonwhite subject' she (is) a Muslim woman," one commentator, Shani Vellve, said. "Referring to her as what she is not is weird and it centers whiteness as the standard to which she and other women of color are wrongfully held. Stop describing POCs (people of color) as 'non white subjects.' It is dehumanizing."
But Tagouri acknowledged the apology, telling CNN that she has plans to meet with the magazine in New York.
"I appreciate the apology and have spoken to several (people) at the magazine on how to move forward and actually have a conversation on misrepresentation and do something about it," she said.
CNN has reached out to Vogue publisher Condé Nast for comment.