UPDATED: Noor Tagouri “Heartbroken and Devastated” After Being Misrepresented In Vogue

by Charles Manning

It was a dream come true for journalist, activist, and speaker Noor Tagouri when she was asked to appear in a photo portfolio in the February issue of American Vogue. After the shoot, Tagouri patiently waited for months for the issue to come out, finally spotting it on the newsstand at JFK airport. Her friend Adam quickly whipped out his phone to record her joyful reaction to seeing her face and name in the iconic publication for the very first time. Her face was there, but her name? Not so much.

To Tagouri’s dismay, she discovered that Vogue had misidentified her as “actor, director, and model Noor Bukhari.”

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I’m SO heartbroken and devastated. Like my heart actually hurts. I’ve been waiting to make this announcement for MONTHS. One of my DREAMS of being featured in American @VogueMagazine came true!! We finally found the issue in JFK airport. I hadn’t seen the photo or the text. Adam wanted to film my reaction to seeing this for the first time. But, as you can see in the video, I was misidentified as a Pakistani actress named Noor Bukhari. My name is Noor Tagouri, I’m a journalist, activist, and speaker. I have been misrepresented and misidentified MULTIPLE times in media publications – to the point of putting my life in danger. 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. And as much as I work to fight this, there are moments like this where I feel defeated.

A post shared by Noor Tagouri نور التاجوري (@noor) on

“I’m SO heartbroken and devastated. Like my heart actually hurts,” Tagouri wrote on Instagram when she posted her friend’s video. “I was misidentified as a Pakistani actress named Noor Bukhari. My name is Noor Tagouri. I’m a journalist, activist, and speaker. I have been misrepresented and misidentified MULTIPLE times in media publications — to the point of putting my life in danger. 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. And as much as I work to fight this, there are moments like this where I feel defeated.”

The Daily Front Row reached out to Vogue for a response and received this statement in return:

In the February issue of Vogue the writer and activist Noor Tagouri was misidentified in a caption as ‘actor, director, and model Noor Bukhari.’ We are sincerely sorry for the mistake. 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. We also understand that there is a larger issue of misidentification in media—especially among nonwhite subjects. We will try to be more thoughtful and careful in our work going forward, and we apologize for any embarrassment this has caused Tagouri and Bukhari.

The magazine is already on newsstands, so there isn’t much the publication can do beyond saying they are sorry and promising to do better, but is that enough? Apologies and promises to “do better” often read like “thoughts and prayers” when fundamental change, or even an acknowledgement of the need for it, is so hard to come by. What’s more, although Vogue claims to be “thrilled” to “shine a light on the important work [Tagouri] does,” all they actually did was take her picture. They didn’t shine a light on her work. There was no accompanying article explaining what she does and why it is important. If there had been, this particular case of misidentification would probably never have happened.

Diet Prada, who was first to report the story on their Instagram account, urged Vogue to “Maybe fess up and admit you couldn’t see past the headscarf?”

Of course, mistakes and unfortunate misrepresentations are bound to happen in a world where magazine staffs are constantly being downsized, where proofreaders and fact-checkers, once an essential department at any publication, are now practically extinct, and where senior staff are often put out to pasture in favor of younger, less experienced, and far cheaper workers. Magazine staffs shrink, but the demands on their time increase as they are expected to not only pick up the slack left by vacant positions following the latest round of layoffs, but to take on even more work as their companies fight tooth and nail to wring as much content out of them as possible, no matter what the human or professional cost.

UPDATE:
After The Daily Front Row reached out to Vogue for comment, they posted Tagouri’s picture on their Instagram account, apologizing for their mistake in the caption.

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