13 Best Magazine Covers Of All Time That Feature Women Of Color


Every time a woman of color graces a magazine cover, the internet releases a collective gasp and the image proceeds to go viral immediately.

We are more than obsessed with #BlackGirlMagic. People are also celebrating women of color who are snagging these magazine covers left and right, because for many years, magazines rarely included them on the top of their publication or within the pages.

So let's take the time to celebrate a few historical firsts, but also some of the recent magazine covers that left us crushing hard.

1. Lupita Nyong'o On People


While Lupita Nyong'o became the third black woman to ever be chosen as People's Most Beautiful Woman in 2014 (after Halle Berry and Beyoncé, respectively), the actress is the first dark-skinned woman with natural hair to ever score the title.

Her cover broke barriers, not just concerning race but also colorism, which is a prejudice or discrimination against people of color with darker skin.

2. Tyra Banks On Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated

Before she was the beloved host of America's Next Top Model, Banks was a groundbreaking model herself, scoring multiple magazine covers. In 1997, she became the first black model to cover Sports Illustrated for their 1997 winter edition.

NBC named her photo the third best cover of all time at the "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful" event, which aired on NBC.

Banks talked about the moment in her acceptance speech, saying,

A lot of the women here say it was their dream. But it wasn't my dream, because I didn't think it was possible. And I didn't think it was possible because of the color of my skin....I want to thank Sports Illustrated...for thinking different, and I say 'different' without an 'ly.' For being daring and for making every little black girl that year that saw that issue go 'oh my God, mama, I think I'm pretty because a black girl's on the cover just like me.' I stand here representing everybody with a dream, to know that if you have a dream and you have tunnel vision, it can come true. But remember to dream bigger. Because if you do, those things can be reached, too.

3. Beyoncé on Vogue


In 2015, Beyoncé became the third black woman to ever grace the coveted September issue cover of Vogue magazine.

The moment was also special since the icon has made a habit out of giving fewer and fewer interviews over the years. Actually, she didn't even give an interview for the September issue, which is nearly unheard of for cover stars. The magazine going along with her silent mystique just speaks to the star power that is Beyoncé Knowles.

4. Black Actresses From Orange Is The New Black On Essence


This Essence cover was a special treat for Orange Is The New Black fans because it highlighted the black women on the show, who have become some of the breakout stars and fan favorites of the ensemble cast.

In the issue, the cast talked the success of the Netflix series and what it means to play a role in the new wave of black visibility.

5. Zendaya On Vogue


In 2017, Zendaya debuted her very first Vogue cover and even included a few bad ass stories about how she had the confidence to stand up to Disney in the name of feminism.

Her cover was right on time since her career is booming and she's got a new Spider-Man: Homecoming film due.

6. Beverly Johnson On Vogue


Before Beyoncé even had the power to snag Vogue's September issue with no interview, there was supermodel Beverly Johnson — the first black woman and model to ever be featured on the iconic fashion magazine in 1974.

7. Priyanka Chopra On InStyle


Priyanka Chopra has snagged a few beautiful magazine covers, but this InStyle issue is just everything. Indian women finally got a little representation with her beautiful appearance on the magazine's cover. In the issue, she talks about everything from her dating life to how she's juggled such a busy career.

8. Amandla Stenberg On Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue

Stenberg brought all of the natural haired glory to the cover of Teen Vogue for its February 2016 issue. For her cover story, the magazine called upon fellow unapologetic black woman, Solange Knowles, to interview the young actress about her social justice-related posts going viral online and her take on race and identity politics in America.

During the interview, Stenberg shared,

I think that as a black girl you grow up internalizing all these messages that say you shouldn't accept your hair or your skin tone or your natural features, or that you shouldn't have a voice, or that you aren't smart. I feel like the only way to fight that is to just be yourself on the most genuine level and to connect with other black girls who are awakening and realizing that they've been trying to conform.

9. Rihanna On i-D


Sure, Rihanna has some pretty glamorous magazine covers under her belt, but the i-D cover will always be in a category all its own. On it, she's seen staring into the camera with a nearly expressionless look on her face.

She's sporting these thick, long plaits, and the image is so beautiful because of how Rihanna always manages to step away from society's expectations of beauty and do her own thing. It's why the world is obsessed with her and black girls cannot help but to see some of themselves in her.

10. Katiti Kironde On Glamour


Katiti Kirondi was the first black woman to cover Glamour after winning the magazine's "Best Dressed College Student" contest while she was an undergrad student at Harvard.

11. Kerry Washington On Essence


Two years before Scandal's Kerry Washington ever filmed her now hit ABC show, she was already getting press for her powerful films like For Colored Girls and Night Catches Us.

One of the coolest covers she had during that period was for Essence magazine's November 2010 race issue. She stands there in a powerful, Wonder Woman-esque stance with huge, big curls rising from her head.

It's a strong pose, and her commentary in the magazine on letting her race be only part of what defines her was even stronger.

Washington shared,

I don't want to ignore my Blackness. I just want to get to the point where my racial identity is simply a part of what makes me unique.

12. The Hidden Figures Cast On Essence


This cover debuted just as reviews were rolling in about the film Hidden Figures, which was about the three black female mathematicians -- Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) — who were responsible for sending NASA's first astronaut into space and making him the first to orbit the earth.

13. TLC On Vibe


Yep, we had to kick it old school with this throwback Vibe magazine cover of the iconic girl-group, TLC. T-boz, Chilli, and the late Left Eye were known as much for their images and personas as they were for their R&B hits.

The November 1994 cover shows them wearing outfits that were a special twist on their staple baggy clothes aesthetic. The women wore firefighters' suits — a humorous ode to the very serious situation that Left Eye caused when she burned her football player boyfriend Andre Rison's house down after a disagreement.

As problematic as the moment may have been, the photo seemed to be a huge "F you" to f*ckboys and anything else threatening to get in the way of their journey to success.