Last week, Vogue unveiled its latest cover star, the ever-flawless and effortlessly elegant Lupita Nyong’o. This is the actress’ second time being featured on the cover of the fashion bible — she made her debut last year on Vogue‘s July issue. For us, it was quite heartening to see one of the most prominent fashion magazines in the world once again feature two black women back to back (Beyoncé famously landed the September issue). A rare sight indeed.
Vogue has arguably come a long way in terms of featuring diverse cover models.* Last year, the magazine featured two celebrities of color, Rihanna and Lupita, on its covers as well as three professional models of color, Joan Smalls, Imaan Hammam and Fei Fei Sun, on its September pull-out cover. Kanye West also got a cover with his now-wife Kim Kardashian. In 2013, Beyoncé and Michelle Obama both nabbed covers. Both women were also Vogue cover models back in 2009. In 2012, Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna (who also appeared on Vogue in 2011) enjoyed solo covers, while Serena Williams joined swimmer Ryan Lochte and soccer player Hope Solo that same year.
This year, Serena, Beyoncé and Lupita have represented for stylish black women everywhere with solo covers. And while we are always happy to see black women featured, we can’t help but see a pattern. It seems that when it comes to featuring women of color, Vogue has become quite fond of double (sometimes triple) dipping on the same celebrities. And it seems in the past four years (since 2011), Rihanna (three covers), Lupita, Beyoncé and Serena (two covers each) have been the mag’s black celebrities of choice.
Now all these women are smart, stylish and inspiring in their own right and are more than deserving to be honored by Vogue, which is quite frankly, more than just a magazine — it’s an institution. And when Vogue finds a celebrity it likes, it tends to feature them a lot (some may argue ad nauseam), regardless of color. Still, we think it’s time for Vogue to branch out. Magazines in general have a bit of a problem when it comes to diversity, but there are so many more black female celebrities publications could feature, women that have already captured the public interest and could certainly sell covers.
Take, for instance, Kerry Washington. Besides the fact that Scandal is such a major hit with audiences that it inspired a multi-season collaboration with The Limited, Kerry is also quite vocal and politically active. Sounds like the makings of a good cover story to us. Oscar-nominated Taraji P. Henson, who was featured inside the September issue, is finally having her big moment thanks to her role as Cookie Lyon in Empire, another runaway hit TV show, which is also lauded for its fashionable characters. A cover appearance would further recognize the show’s popularity and her rising Hollywood status.
Last year, Nicki Minaj broke records with the most number one Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop hits of all female rappers and continues to dominate as a pop culture icon. Tracee Ellis Ross is the star of a hit primetime comedy. Janet Jackson is a music legend on a world tour (and may we mention, looks exactly the same as she did in the 90s). The list goes on. There are so many accomplished, intelligent, interesting black women to choose from that it seems a little silly for Vogue to keep using the same ones time and again.
While we are always happy to see some diversity on the cover of Vogue, we also think it’s time for the magazine to broaden its horizons in that area. Beyoncé will always sell magazines, but she’s surely not the only one.
*The Vogue covers we counted do not include the Special Edition covers, in which case, there would be even more Beyoncé and Rihanna.