Canadian Magazine Covers Surprisingly Lagging in Diversity

The new ‘Front Page Challenge’ in magazine cover models is diversity, in terms of color, size, age, etc. but many magazines, and in particular those in Canada, are not rising up to the task.

Canadian Magazine Covers Surprisingly Lagging in Diversity

Ethnic Diversity on mag covers improving but now in Canada

The good news is, however, that 2016 has been the best so far for many international publications. The Fashion Spot reported that in 2016, out of 679 cover appearances from 48 top international fashion publications, 197 featured people of color.

In 2015, the fashion report delivered the sad news that magazine covers around the world (in particular, Canada) lacked diversity and representation. This year, however, although things are looking up for greater diverse representation, they are not improving much in Canada.

The Huffington Post ran an article expounding on Canada’s lack of diversity in magazine brands in 2015 and included: Flare, LouLou, Fashion, Elle Canada and more, and found that they were poorly lacking in diversity, especially in people of color. Niche magazines, however, routinely do better by not catering to general audiences as well as targeting certain ethnic groups anyway.

After researching, what they found was 10 Canadian magazines feature white people 95 percent of the time, as opposed to a mere 16 percent of people of color. Al Donato said in his Huffington Post article with the heading, “A Dearth Of Diversity On Canadian Fashion Magazine Covers In 2015” when referring to the more than 19 percent of visible minorities in our country (as reported in Statistics Canada 2011), “the lack of representation is bound to have an effect on them.” University of Toronto professor, Minelle Matani, in his own research into minorities in Canadian media, showed that misrepresentation of ethnic groups led to normalizing stereotypes. He went on to say, “And no representation at all suggests that diverse lives aren’t as important or deserving of attention.” But the good news is, it looks like the question of diversity on the front page is about to change for the better, at least in most magazines:

Fashion Spot’s managing editor, Jennifer Davidson, explained, ”In the years that we have been tracking the data, we have seen a continual rise in racial diversity — and there’s no doubt that transgender women had their most visible year yet.” She added, “We can only expect (and hope) that we’ll continue to see gains in 2017, and that these magazines will start appealing to all women on their covers.”

For U.S. magazines, including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, Fashionista also reported that 2015 showed little diversity on the covers of 10 leading publications as well as several others who did not improve from previous years. However, in 2016, there was a marked change in U.S. magazines, where approximately 35 percent have featured people of color. This is a sizeable improvement in diversity for U.S. Magazines.

In Fashionista’s own report on diverse covers, they praised Teen Vogue for casting both “actresses-slash-activists,” as well as women of color like Willow Smith and Amandla Stenburg.

So who needs a slap on the wrist? Well, sadly many publications in Canada for a start, plus quite a few elsewhere. The Fashion Spot report also said the least racially diverse publications were Love magazine, having no people of color cast on its covers and British Vogue, which had only featured one woman of color: Rihanna. American Harper’s Bazaar is poorly lagging, too, as they highlighted only “white, cisgender, straight-sized models” this year.

And then there’s body diversity. Each and every magazine is sadly behind in showing plus-sized models on their covers. Only 6 out of 679 International magazines featured plus-sized women like Ashley Graham on Cosmopolitan, Melissa McCarthy on Elle and Adele on Vogue.

The report also cited a paltry 5 percent of cover models that were over 50-years-of-age, showing that magazines everywhere need to do some stepping up in their role of celebrating the “beauty” of diversity in today’s society.

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