Cosmo Uses Black Celebs for Beauty Don’ts, White Models For Beauty Dos—And People are Pissed

Magazine takes heat for online beauty feature

By Nicole Adlman Apr 02, 2015 9:02 PMTags
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Cosmopolitan is coming under heat for an online beauty feature called "21 Beauty Trends That Need to Die in 2015," in which nearly a fifth of the "R.I.P." column features women of color.

Conversely, every woman featured in the "Hello Gorgeous" column seems to be white, except for Nicole Richie, who is biracial. Readers took to Twitter to decry the magazine for the photo story's questionable subtext, with criticism that included "Rare to see women of colour in a mainstream magazine. And when you do it's to tell us we're ugly," and "Coincidence that all the 'wrong' looks are on black woman/WOC?"

Following the backlash, an editor's note (or pseudo-apology, really) was posted to the article today: "This article focuses on beauty trends with images that represent those trends. Some images have been taken out of context, and we apologize for any offense. Celebrating all women is our mission, and we will continue to work hard to do that."

The controversy echoes a 2007 firestorm that Glamour faced after an editor, presenting corporate fashion "dos" and "don'ts" at a law firm, identified an afro and dreadlocks as "don'ts."

Cosmo's story, which was originally posted on Jan. 5, has garnered over 90,000 shares and was resurfaced this week on the website.

The lack of diversity in print magazines is not a novel point of contention in the industry: A 2014 report on The Fashion Spot noted, per their own research, that white models appear on covers five times more frequently than women of color.

Model Joan Smalls, singer Ciara and actress Naya Rivera were among celebrities included in the article's "R.I.P." column. Here's to hoping that more features in magazines will portray a more inclusive portrait of beauty, and not just the good vs. bad, light vs. dark trope that mainstream writers so easily fall into.