Groundbreaking magazine covers that got us turning pages
There’s no doubt that digital media has taken over from the popularity of print magazines and while social media and Google are incredibly convenient, nothing beats the feel of picking out your favorite magazine from the stands of your local store. The look and style of magazine covers are often the biggest motivating factor of whether we pick it up or not. They also speak a lot to how much society and our culture has evolved in terms of beauty standards, social ideologies, and fashion trends. We picked out some of the most iconic covers of the 21st century!
1.Beyonce, (September 2018) Vogue US
We had to start with our girl B on Vogue. Last year, Beyonce was featured on the most prestigious Vogue cover of the year, which is the September issue. Vogue gave Beyonce full control of the cover and as a result, had its first black photographer, 23 year-old Tyler Mitchell to shoot it. This was a cause for much celebration, but it also begged the question as to why Vogue never had a black photographer throughout its 126 years of existence. Vogue never addressed the issue, but the cover itself became one of the magazine’s most revolutionary ones. It was recently announced that a portrait from the cover’s collection will be displayed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, home to photographs and paintings of esteemed scientists, film stars, authors,business geniuses, civil rights activists and other greats.
2. Caster Semenya (December 2016) ELLE Magazine South Africa
ELLE’s 2016 December cover shows a cool and confident Caster Semenya decked out in Nike top, an embroidered denim jacket and jeans. The cover shows the athlete in her most comfortable element, a huge contrast to past covers that showed Caster in overly feminised clothing.
In the December issue, Caster speaks on the criticism she faced with regards to her gender and sex. “The noise, it motivates me. It encourages me to do well, and to be a better person. Not only for myself but in life, how I see and how I treat people. I choose to turn it into something positive. I don’t entertain what goes on. I focus on what I do,” said the athlete.
3. Laverne Cox February (February 2018) Cosmopolitan South Africa
Another historical mag cover is Laverne Cox on the February issue of Cosmopolitan. The queer activist was the first transgender woman to land the cover of Cosmo. Dressed in a netted black bodysuit with a pink background, with the Cosmo headline queer-themed colors, Laverne graced a cover that celebrated the feminity of trans women’s identities. The cover was brilliantly captioned with the words “The Truth Will Set You Free” as an ode to the freedom of living with her true identity. In the accompanying Cosmo video she spoke about dating as a trans woman. “As a black transgender woman, I’ve often been kept a secret by the men that I’ve dated,” she said. “So when my ex-boyfriend introduced me to his dad and invited me to spend Hanukkah with him and his family, it was the most special thing ever.”
Laverne added, “Trans women deserve to be loved out in the open and in the light.”
4. Kanye West (September (2006) Rolling Stone
Kanye West appeared on the Rolling Stone cover with all the bravado and controversy we know him for today. The cover was symbolic of his self-described comparison to Jesus and also appeared not long after the rapper’s 2005 Grammy win for “Jesus Walks”. Inside the magazine, he also posed as Muhammed Ali and was quoted saying, “In America, they want you to accomplish these great feats, to pull off these David Copperfield-type stunts,” he said. “You want me to be great, but you don’t ever want me to say I’m great?” Typical of many of Kanye’s artistic endeavours, the cover received a lot of backlash for being blasphemous.
5. Esther Mahlangu (September 2017) Destiny
For their Heritage month cover, Destiny Magazine featured renowned South African artist, Esther Mahlangu on their cover. Khanyi Dhlomo, publisher of the magazine stated that it was important to place her on that month’s cover because she had lived her heritage with dignity and tenacity, “We salute her for eloquently demonstrating that so long as we can breathe, we can imagine. Through our imagination we can create a magnificent reality.” What an inspiring icon she is. May she continue to rise and stir up in all of us a deeper love for our heritage, art and creativity. Halala Mama Esther!
6. Manthe Ribane, Rharha Nembhard and Nonku Phiri (on March (2018) ELLE Magazine South Africa
In an Instagram post that lead to their March cover, ELLE stated, that “The future is: female, it’s bold, it’s expressive, it’s creative, it’s technologically advanced, it’s young, it’s African and it’s here. It’s now.” Nothing epitomised this more than their demure and daring cover which featured leading artists Manthe Ribane, Nonku Phiri and Rharha Nembhard. The cover itself was breathtaking, with it’s matte black and pink pastel tones, the style brought to mind elements of Afrofuturism and Afrocentricism.