Update: Alexi McCammond has stepped down from the Editor-in-Chief position. You can read more about her exit here.
Just three days after Condé Nast announced its decision to hire political reporter Alexi McCammond to replace Lindsay Peoples Wagner as Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief, a public backlash is unfolding. On Monday, a group of 20 Teen Vogue staff members issued a public statement via social media platforms condemning McCammond's "past racist and homophobic tweets."
"We take immense pride in our work and in creating an inclusive environment," reads the statement. "That's why we have written a letter to management at Condé Nast about the recent hire of Alexi McCammond." The statement also notes similar concerns raised by Teen Vogue's readership, saying "we stand with you."
The tweets in question, which date from 2011, include racist, Anti-Asian statements like "now googling how to not wake up with swollen, asian eyes" and "Outdone by an Asian #whatsnew". "In a moment of historically high anti-Asian violence and amid the ongoing struggles of the LGBTQ community, we as the staff of Teen Vogue fully reject those sentiments," reads the staff statement.
Per The Daily Beast, "in addition to the public statement... Teen Vogue staff privately expressed concerns on Monday to Condé Nast's global chief content officer Anna Wintour and CEO Roger Lynch about the hiring process and the decision to tap McCammond for the job."
Discussion about McCammond's history of racism grew over the weekend, with Diana Tsui, an editor at The Infatuation, sharing screen grabs of McCammond's since-deleted Anti-Asian tweets from the past. "I'm tired of big media organizations pretending to give a damn about diversity and inclusion," Tsui wrote in her Instagram caption, adding "This especially is a slap in the face given what's happened to Asian Americans in the past year."
Tsui's post was re-shared by Diet Prada, Very Good Light and many others in the media industry.
In 2019, when it appears McCammond was first called out for her racist statements, she issued an apology on Twitter: "Today I was reminded of some past insensitive tweets, and I am deeply sorry to anyone I offended. I have since deleted those tweets as they do not reflect my views or who I am today," she wrote on Nov. 20, 2019.
While Condé Nast did not immediately respond to Fashionista's request for comment, the company appears to be sticking by McCammond, issuing the following statement to The New York Post: "Alexi McCammond was appointed editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue because of the values inclusivity, and depth she has displayed throughout her journalism." In an addition to that statement, a company spokesperson elaborated further in a comment to The Daily Beast: "Throughout her career she has dedicated herself to being a champion for marginalized voices. Two years ago she took responsibility for her social media history and apologized."
McCammond herself has responded to the controversy by sending a staff-wide email, which was obtained by The Daily Beast, on Monday:
"I'm beyond sorry for what you have experienced over the last 24 hours because of me. You've seen some offensive, idiotic tweets from when I was a teenager that perpetuated harmful and racist stereotypes about Asian Americans. I apologized for them years ago, but I want to be clear today: I apologize deeply to all of you for the pain this has caused. There's no excuse for language like that. I am determined to use the lessons I've learned as a journalist to advocate for a more diverse and equitable world. Those tweets aren't who I am, but I understand that I have lost some of your trust, and will work doubly hard to earn it back. I want you to know I am committed to amplifying AAPI voices across our platforms, and building upon the groundbreaking, inclusive work this title is known for the world over.
I'm heartbroken by the nasty vitriol some of you have experienced in the wake of this situation. It is completely unacceptable. But as we navigate through this together, what matters to me is crushing the work we do. My number one mission in leading you through this next chapter is to make you all feel more confident, comfortable, and fearless in your storytelling and the boundaries we can push together as a team. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for this opportunity and for sticking with me."
Fashionista has contacted Condé Nast and will update this post with any additional comment.
Update, March 9, 10:24 a.m.: A spokesperson from Condé Nast replied to Fashionista's request for comment by reiterating the same statements that had already been shared with The Daily Beast and The New York Post in support of McCammond. The company spokesperson also shared the text of McCammond's internal email, which we have already posted above.
Update, March 9, 2:24 p.m.: Celebrities, designers and creators, including actor Olivia Munn, Daniel Dae Kim, Phillip Lim, Prabal Gurung and The Cut Beauty Director Kathleen Hou have shared their own public statement in support of Teen Vogue's staffers, sharing their message via Twitter and Instagram. "We — Asian American activists, creators, and citizens — stand in solidarity with the staff of Teen Vogue, and want to thank them for speaking out against anti-Asian racism," the post reads.
Others in the industry, such as Allure Editor-in-Chief Michelle Lee, makeup artist Daniel Martin and influencer Susie Lau have also re-posted Teen Vogue staffers' original statement and/or Tsui's post about McCammond's tweets, sharing their support.
Update, March 10, 8:53 a.m.: On Tuesday evening, the official Teen Vogue Instagram account posted a statement from "Teen Vogue staff & EIC Alexi McCammond" stating "We respect and value our diverse community of Teen Vogue readers, and we're committed to continuing the coverage you know us for," adding that "As a team, we've had frank, thoughtful and real conversations," but neglecting to name who, exactly on staff had any part in writing the statement or to offer any apology. The statement also does not offer any concrete information or plan for how the brand plans to deliver on these promises.
Meanwhile, others (including influencers Aimee Song and Nicolette Mason and makeup artist Mai Quynh, among others) have continued to speak out against McCammond's appointment to the position.
Update, March 11, 8:50 a.m.: On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that Ulta had pulled an ad campaign worth seven figures following concerns over McCammond's racist tweets. The Daily Beast confirmed the decision with an Ulta spokesperson, who also offered the following statement: "Diversity and inclusion are core values at Ulta Beauty — and always have been. Our current spend with Teen Vogue is paused as we work with Condé Nast to evaluate the situation and determine next steps regarding our partnership." It remains to be seen whether other advertisers will follow suit.
A Change.org petition to remove McCammond, created by Fashion For All Foundation, has also begun to circulate. Addressed to Teen Vogue, Condé Nast, Anna Wintour, Roger Lynch and Agnes Chu, the it has collected nearly 200 signatures so far.
On Wednesday evening, McCammond posted a lengthy public statement to social media, addressed to "our Teen Vogue community, staff, readers, writers, photographers, content creators and friends." "What an awful introduction we've had to each other this week," she wrote, going on to note that "this past week has been one of the hardest weeks fo my life."
While McCammond did not share any specific course of action, she added that "in the coming weeks, I'll be putting together a more comprehensive plan about Teen Vogue's editorial commitment to uplifting and reflecting the true complexities and beauties of the AAPI community."