Tennis star Serena Williams is one of four people featured on GQ‘s 2018 Men of the Year covers. And hers is making the most noise online.
The comments on social media are coming from the magazine’s use of the word “woman” in quotes positioned above the word men, which is crossed out. The quotes and handwritten Helvetica font are the signature style of Off-White founder and CEO Virgil Abloh, who designed a collection of footwear and apparel for Williams this year with Nike.
While fans of Williams know of her association with Abloh and that the quotes and font are synonymous with the designer, the decision to use “woman” on the cover didn’t sit well with people on Twitter.
“Everyone knows Virgil. We know his designs. We get the quotations. Doesn’t mean putting quotes around woman makes it any less insensitive esp. considering the masculinization of Serena and black women in general!” user @akaeleehb wrote on the social media platform.
And user @dingodowndame commented, “[I] expect GQ to be savvy enough to realize how this might come across given Serena’s history with sexism/racism, and since there is a huge wave of criticism regarding it, the focus is detracting from her feature. That’s GQ’s responsibility.”
However, not every person who responded was off-put by the cover text.
“You do [realize] that GQ is a MENS fashion magazine … so the word Woman is the most important piece of the magazine.. it is Virgil’s signature to use quotations… no RACISM, no SEXISM, NOTHING… just her and Virgil collating with GQ,” user @akaToony wrote.
Nike unveiled the Abloh-designed “Queen” collection for Williams in August ahead of the U.S. Open. The line boasted dresses, a jacket and a bag. It also featured a new take on William’s on-court shoe, the NikeCourt Flare 2, and fresh iterations of two sneakers from “The Ten”: the Nike Air Max 97 and the Nike Blazer Mid SW.
Abloh declined to comment in an email to FN today.
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