By Thandile Xesi
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY.
Recently we have seen an abundance of international magazines feature black women on their covers. This begs the question of whether this precedence is a necessary step in the right direction towards achieving diversity. September 2018 is clearly the month of #BlackGirlMagic, with black women covering 12 of the fashion industry’s biggest (both in physical size and importance) issues of the year. Beyoncé said it herself while reflecting on her historic Vogue cover and spread:
“When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell,” she said in a personal reflection for the iconic magazine. “Clearly, that has been proven a myth.”
Clearly, indeed. Looking across the spectrum of magazine covers this month, there is plenty of #BlackGirlMagic. Along with Beyoncé’s American Vogue cover that dropped on the 6th of August, is singer and actress Rihanna’s British Vogue cover, and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o is on the cover of Porter magazine.
Black women and September magazine covers go together. Look at beauty. pic.twitter.com/isupKFsfb6
— Wanna (@WannasWorld) August 7, 2018
Blackish star Tracee Ellis Ross is on the September issue cover of Elle Canada, and actresses Zendaya and Tiffany Haddish are featured on the covers of Marie Claire and Glamour, respectively. The covers shatter the colonial myth that black representation doesn’t sell, much like Marvel’s Black Panther proved earlier this year. The film, which recently reportedly crossed $700 million at the North American box office, has been touted as helping to further open the entertainment industry’s eyes to how profitable diversity can be. The covers were greeted with plenty of excitement on social media.
Pretty monumental week already pic.twitter.com/cxiyO1NnvD
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) August 6, 2018
The importance of representation is, of course, not a new discussion in communities of colour. However, the abundance of these covers at a time when the United States feels more divided than ever over issues of race, has been cause for even more celebration. And celebrate is exactly what fans did when it was reported that Beyoncé would take over Vogue for the month. Queen Bey selected her shots and the cover, and oversaw the captions. Most notably, however, the music legend hired Tyler Mitchell to shoot the cover, making him the first African-American photographer to do so in Vogue’s 126-year history.
Beyoncé gave a nod to that significance in her remarks in the issue. “Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer,” she said. “It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter.” This reflects the necessary diversity in the media space, which has been lacking for a very long time. Now, indeed, the time is ripe for transformation and diversity.
lupita nyong’o, beyoncé, zendaya, and rihanna are all on september magazine covers for 2018.
WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!! pic.twitter.com/D6RHt7dC4e
— mia (@lvstbleu) August 6, 2018
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