These Fall Magazine Covers Just Made History

August 19th 2015

Laura Donovan

Fall isn't even here yet, but the season is already getting off to a good start, as nearly 10 notable Black women are on the covers of various September magazine issues.

Trans writer and former People magazine staff editor Janet Mock drew attention to this by tweeting out four different females of color on the covers of different fashion publications, noting how incredible this is to see as a journalist herself:

Mock's tweets show "Scandal" actress Kerry Washington on the cover of Self, pop star Beyonce on Vogue, musician Ciara on Shape, and athlete Serena Williams on New York Magazine. As noted by fellow Twitter users and Fusion, these four women were not the only Black females to appear on September magazine covers either. Imaan Hammam is on the cover of Vogue Netherlands:

Los Angeles native and teen actress Amandla Stenberg also made the cover of London-based youth publication Dazed:

Fellow teen star Willow Smith is on the cover of fashion mag i-D:

Finally, dancer Misty Copeland covered Essence's September issue:

Misty Copeland on Essence

As Fusion's Marjon Carlos wrote earlier this year, six women of color graced magazine covers in March. This was good for many, but Carlos also pointed out that less than 15 percent of big fashion magazine covers included women of color in 2014.

March 2015 magazine covers with women of color

"[T]he reason we’re so excited about these magazine covers is because they are rare," Carlos wrote. "A woman of color on the cover of a major mainstream fashion magazine makes waves, since we see WOC so infrequently."

Carlos looked at the 2014 covers of major mainstream fashion magazines and found Vogue was the number one publication in featuring women of color on the cover. That said, Vogue only featured four women of color on magazine covers in 2014, so less than half of the issues had diverse covers. Elle and Lucky had only three, Harper’s Bazaar had none, InStyle, Nylon, Cosmopolitan and Teen Vogue had one, and Vanity Fair, Marie Claire and Glamour had two.

After Washington covered InStyle, the publication was accused of "whitewashing" the actress due to her apparent lightened skin tone appearance on the cover:

Many thought the magazine lightened Washington's skin for the cover, leading the publication to release a statement that it did not do such a thing:

"We are super fans of Kerry Washington here at InStyle. To feature her on the cover of our March spring fashion issue is both an honor and a delight. We have heard from those who have spoken out about our newsstand cover photograph, concerned that Kerry’s skin tone was lightened. While we did not digitally lighten Kerry’s skin tone, our cover lighting has likely contributed to this concern. We understand that this has resulted in disappointment and hurt. We are listening, and the feedback has been valuable. We are committed to ensuring that this experience has a positive influence on the ways in which we present all women going forward."

Washington tweeted this response following the controversy: