When Noor Tagouri finally got her hands on the latest edition of American Vogue last week, she could hardly contain her excitement.
That’s because the journalist and activist had been featured in the fashion Bible’s pages this month — a lifetime dream for the 25-year-old.
But her excitement soon turned to heartbreak when the Muslim woman turned to her picture — and spotted a devastating mistake.
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In a caption accompanying a photograph of herself, she is misidentified as Pakistani actor Noor Bukhari.
And while it might seem like a simple typo, in a video uploaded to Instagram, Tagouri explained why the mix-up was so serious.
The video shows Tagouri’s candid reaction to seeing her Vogue feature for the first time, and was accompanied by a moving caption.
“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!” she wrote.
“We finally found the issue in JFK airport. I hadn’t seen the photo or the text … But, as you can see in the video, I was misidentified as a Pakistani actor 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.”
To its credit, Vogue has issued a full apology to both Tagouri and Bukhari, and has publicly owned up to the error on social media.
“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,” a Vogue Instagram post reads.
“We also understand that there is a larger issue of misidentification in media — especially among non-white subjects.
“We will try to be more thoughtful and careful in our work going forward, and we apologise for any embarrassment this has caused Tagouri and Bukhari.”
But Tagouri told CNN the mistake was far from a one-off, claiming the misrepresentation of “marginalised” people happened “more often than not”.
“I’m so grateful and humbled by the support and conversation this has started,” she told the publication.
“This wasn’t about ME being misidentified and represented — it was about all marginalised people who are constantly an afterthought and not truly seen.”
In 2018, photos of Tagouri were used in news articles about Noor Salman, the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in June 2016.
And the media has a long history of mixing up celebrities with similar backgrounds — earlier this month British Vogue landed in hot water after mistakenly tagging Thandie Newton on its Instagram stories as Zoe Saldana.
In 2017, Burberry confused actor and rapper Riz Ahmed for fellow actor Dev Patel while congratulating him on his Best Supporting Actor award from the British Film Academy, and a news station famously showed a picture of Seal when announcing The Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan’s death in 2012.
In 2014, Pulp Fiction actor Samuel L. Jackson roasted US TV host Sam Rubin who asked him about his recent Super Bowl commercial — the ad actually featured The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne.
Soon after the embarrassing mix-up, Jackson completed a press tour for superhero flick Captain America: The Winter Soldier sporting a T-shirt branded with the words: “I am not Laurence Fishburne”.
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