Racial and ethnic diversity—or lack thereof—has been a regular topic of conversation in the fashion industry for years now. But for all the talk, progress has been painfully slow on fashion’s most public fronts: runways and the covers of fashion’s biggest magazines.
With new December issues now on newsstands, website Fashionista took a look back at all of the 2015 covers for 10 different US editions and tallied up how many featured nonwhite models. Defining what “nonwhite” means isn’t straightforward, of course, but for the sake of its count, Fashionista included people of “mixed race and of Latino or Hispanic descent” in the category. The results, it said, were “not encouraging.”
The population in the US that the Census defines as “white alone” is 62.1%, meaning 37.9% of Americans are something other than that. Based on those numbers, only two of the magazines in the list could be said to have accurately reflected what the US population actually looks like, over that time period—and that’s to say nothing about representation of the different groups within that nonwhite group, including the millions of Asians who live in the US.
Meanwhile, there’s evidence that nonwhite cover stars sell magazines just fine.