Open Letter to Essence Magazine

Friday, September 19, 2008

I originally wrote this letter on August 8, 2006 on Myspace. After seeing the 3rd year in a row with MoNique on the cover, I am sad to say that it's still appropriate.

Dear Essence,

I have been an avid reader of your magazine since I was a young teenager. The covers with Iman, Beverly Johnson, Oprah and other notable and beautiful woman often caused me to shut myself in my room to devour the entire issue from cover to cover. Although I have an abundance of female guidance from my grandmother, mother, aunts and cousins, I learned a lot about fashion, makeup, hair and other things from Essence.

This is why it grieves my heart to have to tell you that Essence is seriously slipping in choice of cover models. Yet ANOTHER Monique Cover for 2008!?!?!?!. Two years ago in 2006, you had her on the cover twice in less than 8 months. Trust me, your readers' memories are not that short. And I bet good money that you will have Bey on the cover since her album drops in November. Yes I know with her new album coming out, B is hot. However, she is not the only celebrity out there.

I feel that you are intentionally alienating the more mature and culturally diverse demographic of your magazine. Those of us age 30 and older have more diverse tastes than just Monique, Mary J. Blige (although I love her) and Beyonce. You barely acknowledge artists like India.Arie, Jaguar Wright, Wayna, Corrine Bailey Rae, etc. These most talented artists will never move into the mainstream unless they are acknowledged by magazines such as Essence. And let's not even get me started on your choice of actresses. I really need for Mikki Taylor and those who choose the covers to broaden their view, scope and thus portrayal of women of color. Please get your heads out of the sand and out of People, Us and the Enquirer and look for artists and celebrities that truly and accurately represent the vast Diaspora of the African American culture. Because to be quite frank, Beyonce does not represent me.

Now I would never criticize you without giving you alternatives, so in addition to the artists I named above, here are some others:
  • Angela Bassett
  • The star of the Broadway Color Purple (I'm not sure of her name)
  • The ORIGINAL Dreamgirls with the current people TRYING to portray them (and have "Beyonce and them" give homage to them)
  • The Original Divas: Lena Horne, Dihann Carroll, Nancy Wilson, etc.
  • Patti Labelle
  • Where are they now (Regina Belle, Allison Williams, Angela Winbush, etc.)
  • Selita Eubanks
  • Halle Berry (I'm not sure how many she's been on, but it hasn't been alot)
I would prefer if Essence was a trend setter and not a trend follower. And with the proliferation of a very limited number of celebrities (akin to mainstream media), you are just following the pack. Come on Essence, people in publishing are supposed to be let's get those juices flowing and come up with some other cover choices!!!!!!!!!!


Jamie @ Rural Glamour said...

Amen!!!! Amen!!! Bey and Mo' are not the only ones they wear out on the cover:

Gabrielle Union-That last on with that wig on was a waste of paper '

Nia Long-She don't put out movie for years but around the holidays shows up on the cover on September 27, 2008 at 8:59 PM said...

About time someone said something...I was starting to get confused for real...I had to stop my subscription....:(

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