Earlier this month, it was revealed that three prominent style bloggers had landed the front cover of Lucky magazine’s February 2015 issue. The featured bloggers include (left to right) Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad, Zanita Whittington of Zanita, and Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper.
While these fashion bloggers’ presence on the cover of a widely circulated fashion magazine is certainly notable in the sense that supermodels and successful celebrities are generally the cover subjects and bloggers are usually featured inside magazines, this should not be regarded as a noble or groundbreaking choice, although Lucky’s editor-in-chief would like to believe otherwise.
For one, the bloggers who were elected for the cover are non-Black women. One is Asian and the other two are White. And secondly, race and ethnicity put aside, the three women look similar in terms of size and shape (read: they are tall and svelte). They appear to be no different than the celebs and models that are routinely featured on the cover of Lucky and similar magazines. The only discernable difference here is their job titles; they’re style bloggers, not actors or models.
Of all the successful personal style blogs that are helmed by women of color, Lucky decidedly ignored them and instead contracted the three fashion bloggers who best fit the traditional mold of Eurocentric beauty — an intentional decision that should not be overlooked or swept under the rug.
Research has consistently shown that women of color seldom secure magazine covers. Take, for instance, this 2013 study conducted by Huffington Post wherein researchers found that 82 percent of magazine covers released from September 2012 to September 2013 featured White women (a mix of celebrities and models), while only 18 percent of the covers featured women of color. Though this is but one study, it is still a revelatory one. The disproportionate percentage between White women and women of color who land magazine covers suggests that there is an unsettling diversity and representation issue within the fashion and media industry, particularly in terms of race/ethnicity. And it is an issue that has yet to be resolved.
Just last week supermodel Jourdan Dunn was unveiled as the latest cover star for British Vogue’s February issue. When you consider Jourdan’s achievements, it is perhaps difficult to grasp that she’s the first Black person to be the sole cover subject since Naomi Campbell was on the cover back in 2002 (read: that was thirteen years ago) — but it’s true.
At this point in time, we (women of color) should find the whitewashing of the fashion, and more generally, the media industry, more offensive than shocking. What this Lucky cover proves is the fashion and media industry’s adamant refusal to push images of women of color to the forefront.
It has become glaringly obvious that magazines like Lucky are more invested in maintaining the status quo than they are in highlighting and celebrating racial diversity. Moreover, they are determined, with nearly every magazine cover, to remind women of color that there is nothing about us that deserves placement on the front of magazines. In doing so, they are reifying a narrow notion of beauty while simultaneously marginalizing the beauty of women of color.
While some have rushed to laud Lucky for their decision to feature fashion bloggers on the cover of the mag, I’m reluctant to consider this a revolutionary act. Revolutionary, by definition, means a dramatic shift has occurred; that. And, to me, Lucky’s cover seems to be following the same troubling standards as the rest of the magazine industry — except in this instance it’s not black and brown celebs and models they’re excluding, it’s black and brown fashion bloggers.
Photo Credit: Todd Cole for Lucky Magazine