On Twitter today, Solange Knowles remarked on Nylon magazine's bright-white cover lineup: "Just realizing ive never seen a black girl on the COVER of @NylonMag and its one of my fave mag's EVER! Can we fix that please?" Fair criticism?
Nylon has its covers online starting October 2006. This is what it looks like:
You get the idea. But then Solange corrected herself. There actually has been a woman of color on the cover of the eleven-year-old fashion magazine in recent memory: Lil' Kim. In 2003.
That would be one cover model of color in seven years. By our reckoning, no other fashion magazine — not even Vogue, which in 2009 put First Lady Michelle Obama and Beyoncé on the cover — can beat that record for homogeneity.
Nylon's "guys" spinoff has a slightly better record, having put Pharrell Williams and Bape designer Nigo on the cover since its 2007 launch. (Interestingly, back when Men's Vogue was still publishing, Jeff Bercovici pointed out that it had a far better track record of putting people of color on their cover — in what proved to be its short existence, that included Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith — than Mama Vogue did.)
We asked the magazine to comment, and were told by a rep, "NYLON is a diverse, pop culture lifestyle magazine that covers a wide demographic of ethnicities. Be sure to check out the April issue..."
Assuming that's a suggestion the April issue, which should appear imminently, has a woman of color on the cover, Nylon has some pretty lucky timing. But it's worth considering what would lead to such a white-out in the first place. The magazine skews young, with a sort of safe indie affect and an frequent fixation on "It Girls." Nobody ever said only a white girl could be "It." But it's certainly what Nylon is suggesting with its cover choices.
Related: Black Is The New White For Men's Vogue [Portfolio]