Diversity on Magazine Covers Did Not Improve in 2015

We took a look at 136 covers from 10 leading U.S. fashion publications, and while some did better than others, the results were not encouraging.
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We took a look at 136 covers from 10 leading U.S. fashion publications, and while some did better than others, the results were not encouraging.
Composite.

Composite.

In recent years, much has been made about the lack of diversity in fashion, thanks largely to industry figures like Bethann Hardison. But when it comes to actual representation — both on the runways and on magazine covers — it's still hard to tell whether the industry is genuinely interested in bringing change or whether that interest is merely perfunctory. (After all, no one wants to be called a bigot.)

As usual, 2015 had many safe, predictable cover choices like Kate Hudson and Reese Witherspoon — the latter nabbed four covers, two of which were for Glamour. Others were more refreshing. InStyle came out on top in terms of diversity with cover stars including Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, Zoe Saldana, Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara — a major improvement over 2014, when it only featured one nonwhite* cover star. Meanwhile, Teen Vogue featured models of color* on four of its covers, including Zendaya (who is biracial). Harper's Bazaar, on the other hand, featured only one nonwhite cover star the entire year, as did Nylon. Representing age rather than racial diversity, W and Elle put Jane Fonda and Gena Rowlands — two women in their seventies and eighties — on their covers, respectively. But overall, cover diversity on the major U.S. publications was almost exactly the same this year as last year. In 2014, 27 of 137 covers featured models of color* while in 2015, 27 of 136 did. That's an improvement from 19.7 percent to 19.8 percent.

Take a look below at what 2015 looked like on your newsstands, and how each major glossy did compared to last year.

Allure

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 3/12 (Taraji P. Henson, Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 3/12 (Penelope Cruz, Olivia Munn, Kerry Washington)

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Cosmopolitan

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 2/12 (Nicki Minaj, Demi Lovato)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 1/12 (Chrissy Teigen)

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Elle

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 3/19 (Selena Gomez, Ava Duvernay, Salma Hayek)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 5/22 (Joan Smalls, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zoe Saldana, Rihanna)

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Glamour

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 3/14 (Michelle Obama/Kerry Washington shared cover, Taraji P. Henson, Gina Rodriguez)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 3/12 (Shakira, Jessica Alba, Lupita Nyong'o)

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Harper's Bazaar

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 1/11 (Rihanna)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 1/13 (Penelope Cruz)

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InStyle

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 5/12 (Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, Zoe Saldana, Eva Longoria, Sofia Vergara)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 1/12 (Jennifer Lopez)

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Nylon

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 1/11 (Zoe Kravitz)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 4/11 (Demi Lovato, Vanessa Hudgens, Jessica Alba, Aubrey Plaza)

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Teen Vogue

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 4/11 (Zendaya, Binx Walton, Imaan Hammam/Aya Jones/Lineisy Montero, Fernanda Ly)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 1/11 (Selena Gomez)

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Vogue

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 3/12 (Serena Williams, Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong'o)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 4/12 (Rihanna, Kanye West, Lupita Nyong'o, Joan Smalls)

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W

Nonwhite covers in 2015: 2/22 (Taraji P. Henson, Jourdan Dunn)
Nonwhite covers in 2014: 4/20 (Oprah, Lupita Nyong'o, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell)

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*For the purpose of this story, nonwhite included those of mixed race and of Latino or Hispanic descent, with the debatable exception of Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban. It's important to note, however, that racial identity is very much a social construct and fluid depending on borders. A celebrity like Penelope Cruz, for instance, would probably be identified as white in Europe.