My mom always kept a stack of magazines on our coffee table. Month after month, she’d switch them out religiously when new subscriptions would land on our doorstep. My adolescent eyes sought them out, and I’d marvel at the covers that always had brown faces on them. But those covers were few and far between. Essence, Ebony, and Jet were the few magazines in a large pool of subscriptions that acknowledged blackness.
I could name the most iconic Essence covers off the top of my head because they’ve been etched into my memory. But I can’t recall other mainstream magazines, because they never had black or brown faces on the cover. Beyoncé said it best in her Vogue interview: “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. Clearly that has been proven a myth. 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.” Amen.
If you’re a magazine lover, chances are you know how important the September issue is. It’s usually the biggest magazine of the year, and a lot of time and hard work goes into it. This year is the most monumental September-issue season. Why? Because black women are gracing every single major magazine cover. And this is beyond epic.
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This mosaic of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lupita Nyong’o, Zendaya, Tiffany Haddish, and Issa Rae means so much more than any other magazine cover. This is what representation looks like. This is the future of beauty.
Let us not forget 2015, when we saw the first surge of black women on September issues.
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Janet Mock tweeted: “The black girl takeover of fashion’s September issues is beyond anything I’ve seen as a journalist.” This was three years ago, and look at how these numbers have grown.
I never saw myself in magazines until now. My curvy shape, wildly textured hair, wide nose, and naturally full lips were not in society’s equation of beauty. Therefore, these features were not praised in magazines. We must pay attention to this moment in time. #BlackGirlMagic is thriving, and our beauty is finally being acknowledged. It’s not like we needed it, but we deserve it.
Beyoncé also wrote in her Vogue feature, “If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose.”
This is just the beginning. And progress looks so, so good. Take a moment to relish in all of this black-girl glory.
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Here’s to more in the coming months and beyond.