Rapper Megan Thee Stallion is on the March cover of Harper’s Bazaar, but her fans are pretty disappointed with the subdued pictorial, adding her to a growing list of prominent Black women whose recent magazine covers have fired up discourse about how their dynamism is downplayed.
The 26-year-old ‘Savage’ emcee didn’t seem to mind, though, and shared the photos on her Instagram account Friday. She captioned the images “UNSTOPPABLE HOTTIES IM ON THE COVER OF @harpersbazaarus,” and many of her followers praised her natural look and flawless finish.
She apparently reviewed and helped edit the photos, Collier Schorr, the photographer who shot them, revealed not long after the images lit up social media.
But that adulation wasn’t conveyed in other commentary on the photos. In fact, the criticism dramatically diverged from the exultant nature of the magazine’s cover story about Megan being at the top of her artistic game, finishing college and “defending her right to be young, Black, and free.”
Instagram and Twitter users called photographer Schorr’s minimalist photo shoot boring, bland and messy — despite the high-fashion styling by Samira Nasr that featured Megan modeling Alaia, Chanel, Prada and Saint Laurent.
Similarly, Vogue was recently dragged for its cover shoot of Vice President Kamala Harris and last year’s cover featuring Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
In July, Vanity Fair was briefly celebrated for enlisting Dario Calmese as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover for the mag. But Calmese’s striking photos of Oscar winner Viola Davis were swiftly criticised when he revealed that the cover image was a re-creation of ‘The Scourged Back’, a harrowing 1863 photograph of a formerly enslaved man.
It’s unclear what inspired Schorr for Harper’s Bazaar, though it was clear that some fans weren’t buying what he was selling.
One Twitter user wrote that the magazine should be “ashamed” for making “a young vibrant woman look all washed out” and accused the professional photographer of shooting images that were worse than selfies. Others called for Schorr to be fired.
“The quality of the pics could’ve been better,” wrote a commenter on the Shade Room’s post. Another commenter said: “Something is off,” while someone else chimed in with “..that don’t even look like Meg”
In a statement posted on his Instagram account Friday, Schorr said that the rapper had a hand in editing the images after he shot them.
“A most remarkable experience making pictures with Megan Thee Stallion who discussed each picture and edited afterwards with me,” Schorr wrote. “In charge of her self. Total collaboration as it should be to make together new images of her at this moment in her life. The styling by @samiranasr allowed for all the play and exploration. Grateful to work this way. Sharing visions.”
General consensus on his post supported his creative decisions as a preservation of Megan’s natural look. Others still dragged the photographer for missing the mark.
Incidentally, Megan’s interview with writer Lauren Michele Jackson discussed the tension of being “the alter ego of the glossy star” and how the artist has been experimenting with a softer, more natural approach to her makeup: “Can’t nobody tell me how to be the Hot Girl,” the rapper said.
The interview is the latest in the ‘Hot Girl Summer’ and ‘WAP’ emcee’s traumatic and transformative year, which comes just ahead of her getting her degree in health administration and vying for a best new artist Grammy next month.
“I’m realising that I don’t have to be in full glam every time you see me, because I’m just getting more comfortable with myself and more comfortable with my skin,” Megan said in the interview. “I know that I’m a person that everybody looks to, and they’re like, ‘Oh, Megan, she’s a confident woman. She’s so strong.’ But you have to go through things to become that person.”
Jackson wrote in her profile: “Her control has been hard-won. She may not always get to decide what narratives follow her image, but the Megan we see is the Megan she wants to be.”