Mainstream media has slowly but surely began making strides in diversifying their coverage of happenings in every area of pop culture and the latest Teen Vogue cover is proof…but should we be satisfied just yet?
Aya Jones, Lineisy Montero and Imaan Hammam are flawlessly gracing the latest cover of Teen Vogue as the new faces of fashion, but while many are happy to celebrate these beautiful young women for their achievement, some in the Black community are reluctant to bestow the same praise upon the magazine itself. The modeling industry at large has long been diversified, with stunning women of all backgrounds finding moderate success, but mainstream media has been slow in broadening the spotlight to include those who fall outside of the “blonde-hair, blue eye” category up until recently. However, fashion magazines are still much quicker to put non-white, mainstream entertainers on their covers than they are to embrace actual Black or Latino models and feature them on covers. Think of the countless numbers of fashion magazine covers featuring the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj in the last 2 years alone and compare them to the number of times you’ve seen highly successful Black or Latino models like Joan Smalls, Chanel Iman, or Jourdan Dunn snag cover spreads for popular magazines. This practice of using Black entertainers as placeholders for real models enables them to meet their diversity quota while still keeping a handle on they type of minority audience that they reach, thus continuing to exclude a large population of both Black models and Black audiences without too much backlash. Pioneer Black supermodels like Iman, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell have long taken notice of the modeling industry’s lack of diversity and have publicly spoken out about the issue many times. They’ve also noted the tactics used by the mainstream media to do the bare minimum in recognizing models of color without fully including them on a consistent basis.
Celebrating the achievements of our Black women across all industries is something that we as a community should continue to do on a regular basis, but as a culture, we should also aim to challenge these mainstream entities to do more than just the bare minimum when it comes to recognition. In light of the multiple revenue streams and priceless exposure that they gain from having our culture as an audience, it’s the least that they can do.