Minorities Still Under Represented on Magazine Covers

Minorities continue to be under represented on the covers of pop culture magazines and publications, according to a recent survey by the New York Times. Examining hundreds of magazine covers from 31 publications, the Times found the percentage of minority cover persons grew to just 20 percent in 2002 from 13 percent during 1998 to 2001. While minorities are gaining more exposure in fashion versus other pop culture magazines, Halle Berry in the December issue of Cosmopolitan remains only the fifth black Cosmo cover woman since 1964, the last one being Naomi Campbell in 1990. Details magazine editor Daniel Peres acknowledged, “Everyone is terrified of a misstep While most people in the business would prefer it go unspoken because they are horrified at being perceived as racist, it is a well-known legend that blacks do not help generate newsstand sales.”

Still, with minorities comprising 30 percent of the US population, some publications are shifting towards greater diversity. Teen magazines, for example, feature minority cover models on one-fourth of their issues. In the popular men’s magazine Maxim, nonwhite women took 5 of 12 covers last year. However, in pointing out that the change has more to do with “a certain attraction to exotic women” rather than “any political motivation,” editor-in-chief Keith Blanchard demonstrated that women, particularly minority women, have more obstacles to overcome.

The third annual Feminist Primetime Report, released last month by the National Organization for Women (NOW) concluded that television shows overwhelmingly focus on violence and sexual exploitation. NOW President Kim Gandy remarked, “Network programming sends a distorted, often offensive, image of women, girls and people of colorÑbrought to you through the point-of-view of white men and boys. Television remains very much a man’s world, with women serving primarily as Ôeye candy.'” Last season, Asian American women portrayed only four key roles, and no representatives existed for Native American or Middle Eastern women.


NY Times 11/18/02; Feminist Daily News Wire 10/29/02

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