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Cosmo Cover Girl Zendaya on the Racist Comment That Got Her Then-Publicist Fired


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Sometimes, a little constructive shaming can be a good thing. As with any grassroots movement, popular figures and media outlets (ahem, ourselves included) have spearheaded the charge towards greater diversity in fashion. Crunching the numbers when it comes to runway diversity and inclusion in ad campaigns really highlights just how far the industry’s come — and must go.

To wit: A recent report by Jezebel examined exactly how many women of color have graced the covers of major glossies in 2016 (see our report for 2015). Granted, we’re only halfway through the year, but ideally, each of the most widely distributed magazines should have featured at least one or two non-white women by now. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some (Elle, Teen Vogue, InStyle) have done a top-notch job keeping things on an even keel, others (Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmo) not so much.

As if in answer to Jezebel’s query, “Sex-position bible Cosmo has featured Jessica Alba and Shay Mitchell on its alarmingly bright covers this year, but no black faces. Could it be that only white women have sex?” the mag just announced Zendaya as its July cover star.


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While Z’s relatively innocuous Cosmo photos aren’t nearly as evocative as her hot-off-the-presses and slightly controversial Wonderland spread, her message is equally substantive. “Protect yourself and command respect,” Zendaya orders us from the front page. However, her interview is where the real magic happens.

Zendaya Launches a New Footwear Line, Explains Why People Still Don’t ‘Get’ Cultural Appropriation ]

In it, Zendaya pinpoints one occasion on which she encountered racism in the industry. “I didn’t like my hair and makeup one time on a photo shoot, and my publicist told me, ‘You should just be happy with it — they haven’t had a black girl on the cover since forever,'” the singer told Cosmo. Obviously, the kind of ignorance does not fly with Z: “She’s no longer my publicist.”


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The ballsy star and now co-producer of K.C. Undercover even called out Disney, the company that really put her on the map, for its lack of range in casting. “The only way I was going to come back to the Disney Channel was if I was in a position of more power. One thing that is really important to me is diversity on the channel. It’s hard as a young person of a different ethnicity or background to look at the TV and not see anyone who looks like you. Representation is very important.” This couldn’t be truer, and we can’t wait to see how Zendaya’s input influences the series.

Although Cosmo hasn’t had a black girl on the cover since forever thus far in 2016, we’re glad the glossy finally provided a meaningful representation of minorities. Plus, we’re sure the hair icon was plenty pleased with her tresses and makeup — she looks gorgeous, even in (literal) light of the mass-market cheese factor.

[ via Cosmopolitan ]