Hollywood Reporter's inclusive cover is inspiring, but we can still do better

Alice Sholl
·Contributor
Hollywood Reporter
Should ‘diverse’ covers still be such a big deal? [Photo: Hollywood Reporter/Instagram]

It’s hard to have missed Hollywood Reporter‘s latest cover shoot.

While we’re all too used to seeing size eight white woman after size eight white woman on just about every magazine cover, to see such a mainstream publication feature women of different colours and sizes is refreshing.

Featuring Oprah, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Elisabeth Moss, Jessica Lange and Chrissy Metz, the gorgeous shot shows them gathering for the “drama actresses roundtable to debate the power and pain of strong females (onscreen and off) amid a culture of discrimination in the industry and beyond,” according to the magazine.

And quite rightly, fans are thrilled, and the Reporter‘s Instagram page is flooded with praise for featuring such “inspirational” and “beautiful” women.

But it’s come across criticism as well.

“Seems like this photo is missing some colour,” one commenter said on the Instagram post.

“What is wrong with this picture,” another wrote. “Oprah is the only person of colour you could come up with. If so you are gravely out of touch.”

Once you do the (very) basic maths, among the six women, this shoot only features one woman of colour – Oprah – and one larger woman – Chrissy Metz – leaving the vast majority as four slim, white women.

Yet we consider the cover to be ‘diverse’.

Just as women are given a minority of speaking roles in films despite being about 50% of the world population, there’s a habit of thinking that if a single example of an underrepresented group has been featured in the public eye, we’ve ticked the ‘representation’ box and can move on.

And magazines that have released similar ‘diverse’ covers often receive congratulations for their efforts before going straight back to their same white, size-eight template for the following issue.

The fact that these shoots receive such congratulations in the first place is telling; true progression would be seeing a cover like the one above without batting an eyelid.

As these should be seen as the norm, not the exception.

If this was so, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about each and every photo shoot getting the perfect balance of celebrities each time, as there would be plenty of shoots to pick from.

Neither would cover stars like Chrissy Metz receive such abuse from people apparently bowled over by somebody above a size 12 coming into their line of vision; alongside general praise and criticism on the Instagram post were occasional comments telling Metz to “lose weight”.

However lovely rude comments from total strangers about our weight are, if we saw a mixture of people on magazines, websites and papers more regularly, the few who dare to break the mould today wouldn’t have to submit themselves to receiving such rubbish in the process.

Hopefully soon, a cover like Hollywood Reporter‘s will hit shelves without the need for anyone to pop champagne over it, because it’ll be just like every other magazine cover.

Until then, let’s work towards that goal and strive to make inclusive covers truly inclusive.

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