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7 Times Anna Wintour’s Friends & Staff Spoke Out Against Her

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Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour has been a defining personality in the fashion world for quite some time.

The British-American journalist has been the editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988 and the Global Chief Officer for Condé Nast since 2020, according to Business of Fashion.

Despite Wintour making history and setting the stage for fashion editorials, the 72-year-old businesswoman hasn't always been as well-liked as many would assume.

Here are 7 reasons why people hate Anna Wintour.

1. She has been accused of cultivating a racist work environment at Vogue.

In an investigation conducted by The New York Times in 2020, several Black journalists who worked for Vogue said that Wintour cultivated a racist culture at the magazine.

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Wintour was accused of encouraging a "thin, rich and white" standard of beauty at Vogue and beyond. 

"Fashion is b-tchy," one former Black staff member said. "It's hard. This is the way it's supposed to be. But at Vogue, when we'd evaluate a shoot or a look, we'd say 'That's Vogue,' or, 'That's not Vogue,' and what that really meant was 'thin, rich and white.' How do you work in that environment?"

2. She mocked others for how they looked, according to a former friend.

Author Jerry Oppenheimer wrote for the Daily Mail how Wintour, even in her adolescent years, was often regarded as a "mean girl." 

Wintour's friend during her teenage years, Vivienne Lasky, told Oppenheimer about Wintour's extreme cattiness. "If I disliked anything about Anna when we were kids, it was her rudeness."

As a way to make fun of Lasky's weight, Wintour would buy her friend clothes that were sizes too small, on purpose.

"She would just sit there and watch ME eat," Lasky recalled. "She wouldn't eat, and she would point out that I was 'pleasantly plump'."

3. Anna Wintour's tumultuous relationship with André Leon Talley.

Before the death of André Leon Talley, a fashion journalist and editor-at-large of Vogue, Talley wrote about the way Wintour treated him in his 2020 memoir "The Chiffon Trenches."

“I have huge emotional and psychological scars from my relationship with this towering and influential woman. Simple human kindness. No, she is not capable," Talley wrote.

He also revealed that Wintour had ended their friendship three years before his death because he was "too old, too overweight, and too uncool."

4. She used an offensive term in an email to Vogue employees.

According to the New York Times, Wintour reportedly asked an employee via email if a certain photoshoot would be considered racist.

"Don't mean to use an inappropriate word, but pica ninny came to mind," Wintour wrote, using an anti-Black remark.

In a statement to the Times, Wintour apologized for using the "offensive" term.

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"I was trying both to express my concern for how our readers could have interpreted a photo and raise the issue for discussion, and I used a term that was offensive," she said. "And for that, I truly apologize."

5. The backlash after Vice President Kamala Harris was on the cover of Vogue.

Back in February 2020, VP Kamala Harris graced the front cover of Vogue magazine, however, many people took issue with the photos, accusing Wintour of whitewashing and dressing Harris in Converse trainers.

The cover images were allegedly chosen against Harris' wishes, who wanted a more formal photograph of her wearing a blue Michael Kors suit to be used for the cover instead.

In a statement to the New York Times, Wintour defended the Vogue cover. "There was no formal agreement about what the choice of the cover would be. And when the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the vice-president-elect really reflected the moment that we were living in.”

She added that the photo felt "very, very accessible and approachable and real."

6. She was accused of not giving Black creatives a platform at Vogue.

Following the summer of 2020 racial unrest, in a company-wide internal memo, Wintour admitted and apologized to staff for not doing enough to promote Black staff and designers at Vogue.

Wintour acknowledged that some of the stories and images Vogue has published over the years were "intolerant," admitted there were too few employees of color and took full responsibility for mistakes made during her years at the magazine.

“I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes," she wrote, according to the New York Post.

Many consumers of Vogue pointed out that despite model Beverly Johnson becoming the magazine's first Black cover star in 1974, it wasn't until 2018 when the magazine had its first Black photographer, Tyler Mitchell, who shot Beyoncé for the cover.

7. She ignored concerns over Vogue endorsing cultural appropriation.

In 2017, Vogue covered Kendall Jenner wearing gold teeth at London Fashion Week, something that multiple staff members at the magazine objected to.

The employees told Wintour that the article endorsed, and even glorified, cultural appropriation, as many artists in the Black space cultivated the trend of wearing gold teeth.

After several back-and-forth exchanges between her employees, Wintour responded: "Well I honestly don't think that's a big deal," according to the New York Times.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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