'Elle' Gets it Right With February Women in TV Covers

With Taraji P. Henson, Priyanka Chopra and Viola Davis, it stars as many women of color as the magazine featured in all of 2015.
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With Taraji P. Henson, Priyanka Chopra and Viola Davis, it stars as many women of color as the magazine featured in all of 2015.
Photo: Elle

Photo: Elle

As we've tallied, 2015 was not a great year for racial diversity on women's fashion magazine covers, but if Elle's latest issue is any indication, 2016 is off to a better start. The magazine, which shot only three women of color for its covers last year, has featured the same number for its 6th annual Women in TV issue: "Empire"'s Golden Globe-winning Taraji P. Henson, "Quanitco"'s Priyanka Chopra and "How to Get Away With Muder"'s Viola Davis. "Veep"'s Julia Louis-Dreyfus and "Vinyl"'s Olivia Wilde also receive stand-alone covers.

Elle has come under fire for its approach to cover diversity in the past (though so have many other magazines), inciting accusations of lightening Gabourey Sidibe's skin in 2010 and using a close-up, black-and-white shot of Mindy Kaling for her 2014 Women in TV cover while the four other cover stars — all white — were shot in color with much more of their bodies visible. Last year, there was only one Women in TV cover star: Lena Dunham; and Elle's only multi-cover issue was its Women in Hollywood issue, which featured all white actresses.

This time around, each star was photographed in color with the same amount of her body visible. (OK, Henson is showing a little more, but as we know, she does what she wants.) That the majority of them are non-white — and that the covers are an accurate representation of the most prominent female-led shows on TV right now — feels like progress of some kind. See the rest of the covers below.