Black women are taking over the September issues of major fashion magazines and it is freaking amazing. For over a century, black women have been excluded from the fashion industry despite our many contributions to it. History is being corrected in a very small way as publishers wise up to the fact that black women are, well, beautiful but also consumers too. Still, this game-changing moment is just the beginning — or at least, it has to be for real progress to happen.
Rihanna is the first black woman to cover British Vogue's September issue in 102 years. In case you're wondering: yes, 102 years is exactly how long British Vogue has existed.
This is Beyonce's second time covering Vogue's September Issue, but the first time its cover star has been photographed by a black photographer.
"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," Beyonce told reporter Clover Hope.
The star also chose to be featured with her natural hair and minimal makeup to show just how beautiful black really is.
Matthew Schneier of the Independent notes that the last decade in September issues has been telling when it comes to diversity. Instyle by far surpassed competitors by having five women of color featured on their covers. Glamour, Vogue, and W tied for second place with four each.
Issa Rae made an elegant splash as Ebony's featured star.
Lupito Nyong'o said of her stunning Porter cover, "Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me, as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are."
Aja Naomi King appropriately slayed Shape's "Who Run The World" issue.
A glowing Slick Woods appears on the cover of Elle U.K.
Still, this landmark moment, was not met without a bit of social criticism. Marjon Carlos of Glamour noted the disparity between how black women are treated on magazine covers versus they're real lived experiences.
"And while this shift in power and visibility is exciting, it also comes at a time when black female identity is at its most vulnerable. The unconscionable death of Nia Wilson last month and the glaring pay inequity black women face seem to suggest that as we continue to push culture along, we still remain uninsured by society at large. It's hard not to wonder what it means then to tout black women as ideals of luxury, influence, and beauty, but not carve out enough avenues to protect us from gross violence and poverty," Carlos wrote.
It is important for us to celebrate these wins because the losses are far too many. Increasing representation and magnifying the voices of high profile, black women is just one way of cultivating a culture where we are seen and heard. This country has always struggled with simply getting used to us being here, with us taking up space — these covers demonstrate that we aren't going anywhere. Not by a long shot.