We Need to Talk: American Vogue’s Latest September Issue is a Step Backward for the Magazine

*This article is solely the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of Lasell University or Her Campus. *

I will admit: I’m a hoarder when it comes to fashion magazines. Ever since I was in high school I was obsessed with all sorts of fashion media and consumed it almost daily.  One thing I looked forward to every year like most fashion junkies was the long-awaited September issue, fashion’s largest, and most importantly, the most influential issue of the year.  Come August, like every year, I was so excited to find out who would cover this year’s issue and when it was finally released I was sad to say that I was utterly disappointed. C’mon, I seriously can’t be the only one sick of seeing white models with blonde hair on the cover every. Single. Year.  From Sarah Jessica Parker to Kate Moss to Lady Gaga to Cara Delevingne to Jennifer Lawrence it just gets old. 

Have you ever lined up the covers of the September issue?  They all begin to blur into the same image. To date, we have only had three women of color grace the cover of American Vogue's September issue, Naomi Campbell in 1989, Halle Berry in 2010, and Beyoncé, who has taken the cover four times now.  Finally, last year proved to be a beacon of hope. Beyoncé starred in the 2018 September cover and not only was the editorial visually appealing (probably the best styling and set design I’ve seen in a September Issue), but it also stood for something and told a story.  The message that Beyoncé herself wanted to provide in this editorial was for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. The wigs and the hair extensions were stripped away and little makeup was used for the shoot. Not only that, but this issue was the first cover of American Vogue to date photographed by an African American photographer, Tyler Mitchell, who at just 23 years old is also one of the youngest photographers to shoot the cover to date.

We still continuously fight for minority voices to be heard and normalized, even in 2019.  Although the fashion industry as a whole has been one of the most supportive in this movement, it wasn’t always like this and there have been so many obstacles since then.  With a cover like September 2018, you would expect that it could only go up from here. However, with the 2019 cover star being Taylor Swift, I can only ask, why? It feels like a step backward for something that people have worked so hard to achieve.  Yes, she has been raising awareness for LGBTQ+ individuals, but it seems to only be recently when it would benefit her the most.

Many people have moved on from American Vogue and have started supporting other more inclusive fashion magazines.  Although that’s not the case quite yet for me, I hope one day that they realize and change their outdated ways to provide an inclusive and diverse platform for everyone to enjoy.