Fashion magazines feed their consumers with edited, enhanced, cropped, and fixed images of the women that are “in” every month. But what do those “in” women look like? Who are the writers behind these articles? Do the writers who write about the “in” women look like the “in” women they speak of? These are the questions I asked myself while flipping through the March issues of Marie Claire and InStyle Magazine. Both magazines, covered with the face of a white celebrity, were included in the All You Can Read “Top 10 Fashion Magazines” list. Being of the the top ten most popular fashion magazines, these magazines attract the most readers. But can readers of all races and ethnicities identify with the models, editors, and writers displayed in the magazines? No.
I went through both magazines and counted the amount of times models appeared to be black, white, Asian, Latina/Hispanic, or of another race. The results were nothing short of disturbing. In the Marie Claire March issue containing 314 pages, of the 168 models I counted, white models appeared the most by a landslide. White models appeared 136 times, while black models were the closest runner up at 13 appearances.
InStyle had 490 pages and I counted 266 models. InStyle contained mostly white models at an amount of 216, with the runner up of appearances being black models at an amount of 25.
The diversity among the writers and editors appeared to be worse than the diversity of the models. Marie Claire had a majority of white editors and writers, at a total of 29, in their March issue with only one black, Asian, and Latina/Hispanic.
The results for InStyle writers and editors were worse than Marie Claire. With a clear majority of white writers and editors at a total of 9, I only discovered one Asian writer/editor and zero black, Latina/Hispanic, or others.
The data reveals the lack of diversity throughout not only fashion magazines but the fashion industry as a whole. With white writers writing about white models, there is close to no representation of other races and ethnicities in the fashion industry. This can result in a lack of diverse applicants for fashion models, stylists, writers, and other positions in the fashion industry.
“It’s depressing how much of a gap there is between white and black models and then an even bigger gap between other races,” Bethany Frink, 19, said. “It shows a lot about our society and culture.”
It is also discouraging for multicultural readers when they have close to no one in their favorite magazines to identify with.
“I look through those magazines all the time and have never really thought about it,” Jennifer Veazie, 21, said. “Seeing the numbers all compared to each other shows the extreme lack of diversity.”
The primary audience for fashion magazines are teens and young women. With young girls and teenagers reading fashion magazines to see who and what is “in,” fashion magazines should consider giving girls of all races and ethnicities someone to admire and identify with.
“America is a melting pot and really the world is and it’s time that the fashion industry realizes that and puts more people of all colors into magazines and shows,” Raegan Taylor, 18, said.
Representation in the media is crucial. Without magazines and other sources of media representing all races and ethnicities accurately, young ethnic girls and women will continue to aspire to be someone and something they are not.