Emily Long — 1851 Staff
Fashion magazines featuring people of color in the Lasell library. Photo by Emily Long
Whoever is chosen for the cover of a magazine is a widely publicized decision. Historically, there has been limited diversity featured in fashion. This year, women of color were highly represented in the September issue. Beyonce was posed on the cover of “Vogue,” Rihanna on “British Vogue,” as well as Tiffany Haddish on “Glamour” and Zendaya on “Marie Claire.”
“When I was growing up only women of color that I’d seen on magazine covers was Tyra Banks,” said senior Jabari Courts.
For Tamara Fils-Aime, she only saw women that looked like her when it came to success, not beauty. “The only women for me I saw was Oprah Winfrey, Grace Jones, Whoopi Goldberg. All of those women weren’t beauty standards, they were success standards,” said Fils-Aime.
Fashion professor, Gail Jaruegai, reflected on how over the years, white women have been the standard on magazine covers. “It’s been the policy for years that they would just put white women on the cover…so I think it’s a big milestone for women of color,” she said.
While featuring women of color on the covers of major fashion magazines is a great thing to see, this representation raises some major questions about our perception of beauty.
“Beyonce is on the cover [of Vogue]… and along with that is a light complexion woman [that] has very phenotypic features and very European phenotypic features and I think that the shift in greater representation should be celebrated and along with that what do we have to take things deeper,” said Lasell’s Diversity and Inclusion Director, Jesse Tauriac, “Largely I think that there are messages that get delayed whether implicitly or explicitly about who is beautiful what beauty is, how it’s defined… these messages get internalized by people from every background.”
The diversity among models of color is significant itself. Sophomore Nijah Brown said, “I noticed when I was in Victoria’s Secret last night that all the dark skinned models looked like they had the short natural haircut and all looked the same, so it’s not really being inclusive.”
Although seeing women of different creeds and colors is a great thing to see on magazines, we have to question: will it last? The answer lies in social media. “Diversity in terms of race and ethnicity whether that is because of more outcry for greater representation folks from a range of backgrounds or it’s simply because of a lot of social media grassroots efforts,” said Professor Tauriac.
“I think a lot of it starts with social media because it gave the power to the people. Now I can post a picture on social media that I think this woman is pretty whatever her body type or face that she has and you know other people can now see that, who we see in the magazines,” said Courts.