MeThink: No Dark Skin for Fashion Magazine Cover?

First of all, I don’t read fashion magazine. Naturally, it did not occur to me to think so until I read this article from Denmark: Fashion mags steer clear of dark skin.  Well, at least that is at least true in Denmark, according to the article.

Fear of low sales prevent editors from putting dark-skinned models on the covers of women’s magazines.
Dark-skinned models do not often grace the covers of fashion magazines in Denmark. In fact, according to a questionnaire by MetroXpress newspaper, they don’t appear on front covers at all.
Weeklies and monthlies such as Alt for Damerne, Woman, Q, Bazar, Sirene and Eurowoman have not had any women of colour on their covers in the past year.
According to Karen Klitgaard Povlsen, media expert at Århus University, Danish society is still very much a ‘white society’ and not many Danes are interested in other concepts of beauty other than their own, which is ‘white and slim’.
Sirene fashion magazine, targeted at women below 30, had a dark-skinned model on their cover once, but said sales were affected so much that the attempt was never repeated.
Fear of slumping sales and aiming for specific target groups were reasons most editors gave when questioned why only ethnic Danish cover models are used.
Camilla Kjems, editor-in-chief of Q and Bazar magazines, has never assigned a cover girl of colour and said: ‘The industry is very narrow-minded and I’ve never come across models of ethnic minorities. It’s thought-provoking.’
She said she would like to put a dark-skinned woman on one of her covers, but feared that magazine sales would fall.
Hanne Højberg, editor-in-chief of Alt for Damerne, concurred and said that it was important the cover models reflected their readers. The target group for her magazine are well-educated Danish women between 20 and 40 years old.
She added that the magazine has had interviews with women from ethnic minorities, but the cover needed to have a broader appeal.

Well, if that is the case in Denmark, what about other place? There, with the help of google, I managed to do some searching and the results are: 

1. on its Cover archive.
Year: January 1996 – March 2008
Total Issues: 147
# of dark skin model/actress appearance: 5 times. And all of them is Naomi Campbell.
i.  June 1996.
ii. January 1998.
iii. February 2001.
iv. October 2001 – featured together with P. Diddy.
v. August 2002.

2. Vogue, US
Year: December 2003 – March 2008
Total Issues: 52
# of dark skin model/actress appearance: 2 time.
i. March 2007 – Jennifer Hudson.
ii. May 2005 – Liya Kebede

3. Elle, US
Year: February 2004 – March 2008
Total Issues: 50
# of dark skin model/actress appearance: 2 or 4?
i.  May 2005 – Alicia Keys.
ii. September 2005 – Jennifer Lopez (Hispanic American).
iii.April 2006 – Shakira (?)
iv. December 2006 – Beyonce.

4. Cosmopolitan, US
Year: January 2004 – March 2008
Total Issues: 51
# of dark skin model/actress appearance: 2 times.
i.  February 2006 – Beyonce.
ii. March 2008 – Rihanna.

5. In Style, US
Year: January 2004 – March 2008
Total Issues: 51
# of dark skin model/actress appearance: 7 times.
i.   January 2004 – Beyonce.
ii.  August 2004 – Jennifer Lopez (Hispanic American).
iii. September 2004 – Halle Berry.
iv. March 2005 – Queen Latifah.
v.  January 2007 – Beyonce.
vi. April 2007 – Halle Berry.
vii. February 2008 – Halle Berry.

6. Marie Claire, US
Year: January 2004 – March 2008
Total Issues: 51
# of dark skin model/actress appearance: 1?
i.   December 2005 – Rosario Dawson (Hispanic American).


  1. March 16, 2008 at 3:49 am

    How many Non minority models are registered in the US, UK, World? I’d like to cover this story more in- depthly.

  2. Brigitte said,

    March 19, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, and Marion Jones are other non-models who have appeared on the cover of US Vogue.

  3. micpohling said,

    March 19, 2008 at 7:01 am

    On which issue/year? I don’t see them within the issues from Dec 2003 to March 2008.

  4. ChicNoir said,

    October 6, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Keep in mind that American magazines rearly put any models on the cover. If you go back to the 80’s and early 90’s there were a number of blk models on the covers. Dianna Vreeland, who was the editor and cheif of vogue before Anna Wintours put black models on the cover frequently. I wrote a post of some older Vogue covers some time ago on my blog.

  5. ChicNoir said,

    October 6, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Sherri Belafontae had 5 covers and Karen Alexander had one in the 80’s or very early 90’s. Brandy Quinos(tp) also had a cover in about 94-54. Keira Kabukuru9very dark skinned) had a cover in the late 90’s.

  6. abagond said,

    May 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    What Google search did you use to find all the covers of these magazines? I would like to bring your findings up to date and maybe apply them to other magazines.

  7. Hannah said,

    February 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I am currently undertaking some reasearch on the represenation/underpresentation of women of ethnic minorities in the fashion industry- mainly the print media.
    Can you tell me who wrote this article as the resarch presented could be good grounding for my study.
    In order to reference the work i need to know who to refer to?
    Many Thanks

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