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Ukraine’s president and first lady were criticized for appearing in Vogue

Volodymir Zelenski and Olena Zelenska posed for Vogue magazine amid war.

Ukraine has been in the world’s spotlight since early 2022 when the country was invaded and attacked by Russia. Its Ukrainian president, Volodymir Zelenski, has been a key player in the development of the conflict.

Without getting into the political issues that currently burden Ukraine and Russia, Volodymir Zelenski and his wife, Olena Zelenska, who decided to stay in their country despite the war conflict, attracted the attention of the world due to a photoshoot in Vogue magazine where they appear in a way that has been considered by many as even frivolous.

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The president and his wife were captured by the lens of the famous and iconic fashion photographer, Annie Leibovitz. However, what could be considered an informative and interesting publication, turned a different color when both characters were portrayed with the war in the background, literally, for the digital cover of the US edition.

Are Zelenski and his wife trying to glamorize war?

Vogue US’s Instagram post reads in the bio: “as the war in Ukraine enters a critical new phase, the country’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, has become a key player: a top diplomat and the face of her nation’s emotional toll.”

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Was it really so necessary to conduct a photo shoot visualizing a war that has cost hundreds of lives in recent months? Although perhaps the publication aimed to visualize the panorama and situation in Ukraine at the moment, it ended up being counterproductive, and with it, once again stigmatized the fashion, involving the country’s president.

Fashion should be a channel that sends the message of what is happening in society, not disguising the situation in such a frivolous and cruel way. We can not cover the sun with a finger, but there are other ways to report what is happening away from the media and aesthetics, if it is a fashion magazine or political magazine, that is superfluous.

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In one of the photographs, in particular, Olena Zelenska appears wearing a long navy blue coat, while her hair looks perfectly well arranged with sober makeup, behind her appears what appears to be a tank or destroyed wall, with two army men wearing their respective camouflage suits, what was the purpose of this photo shoot, to show the ravages of war?

What did the first lady of Ukraine tell Vogue?

Although the protagonist of the cover is Olena Zelenska, in some photographs there is also Volodymir Zelenski. The first lady interviewed the journalist, Rachel Donadio of Vogue, to whom she confessed:

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“These have been the most horrible months in my life and the life of all Ukrainians. We are eager for victory. We have no doubt that we will win. And this is what keeps us going.”

Olena Zelenska, noted that when Volodymir Zelenski told her about running for President of Ukraine: “I respected his choice and I understood that this was an important step for him to make. At the same time, I felt that my life and the life of my family would change quite radically.”

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Backlash towards Volodymir Zelenski and his wife

Comments to the photos were not long in coming, some pointing out that in the middle of a war, the president and his wife could not be taking perfectly manicured photos: “In the middle of a war but Vogue”, “Everything is wrong in those pictures”, “Vogue you make me vomit. People are dying in Ukraine,” are just some of the comments on the magazine’s publications.

The conversation has also reached social networks such as Twitter, where the Vogue publication has been strongly condemned:

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These are not documentary or fashion photos, people are dying, families are separated and men fighting against their will for a photo shoot although perhaps its intention is not to “romanticize war” it seems that it was with a pose, makeup, and styling in between.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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