Vanity Fair’s Latest Cover Lacks Diversity and Seems Racist

Vanity Fair just came out with their March 2010 cover and it’s gorgeous! It’s bright, vibrant and so fresh. Shot by Annie Leibovitz it’s classy and endearing. Except for one thing: apparently the new young Hollywood is pretty, white and skinny.

There is a serious lack of diversity going on here as the cover features Abbie Cornish, Amanda Seyfried, Anna Kenrick, Carey Mulligan, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen Stewart, Mia Wasikowska and Rebecca Hall.

What’s not only disturbing is that fact, but, that Vanity Fair left out two very important actresses.

These actresses, currently, can top each of the current issue’s cover girls in terms of accomplishments (by Hollywood and ‘normal’ standards) … combined.

Who are those two young women? …… Gabourey Sidibe and Zoe Saldana.

Chris Pizzell - AP Photo

Gabourey Sidibe is nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Precious, her first movie and first nomination. It’s very Keisha Castle-Hughes.

Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana - Golden Globe Awards © HFPA

"Star Trek" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals Photo by © David Gabber - PR Photos

Zoe Saldana was a part of The Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Star Trek 2009 and is Neytiri in Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time surpassing Titanic.

By the way, it’s rumored that Avatar will be a trilogy and yes, it’s confirmed, there will be a Star Trek 2 in 2012.

via Profashionelle

What about America Ferrara? Yes, Ugly Betty is ending, but Ferrara is top Latina actress, make no mistake — lots of attention is paid to her.

Freida Pinto and Dev Patel - Jon Didier/© A.M.P.A.S.

Freida Pinto - Jon Didier/© A.M.P.A.S.

What about Freida Pinto? She’s one of the few Indian actresses to break through the American market and was the female lead in Slumdog Millionaire. She’s certainly part of the “up and coming” and “has arrived” “Young Hollywood.”

via Burberry, photograph by Testino

I think it’s also important to point out and while not American, another MAJOR player of “Young Hollywood” that didn’t make the cut, who is tall, white, pretty and skinny is Burberry face and Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson. Her  films (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) combined gross amount is far above EVERYONE at a whopping $5.4 billion USD for the decade (2000-2009).

Just like Stephen Colbert joked at the Grammy Awards 2010 that it’s thanks to Susan Boyle that the music business was saved from itself recently — the same can easily be argued about Emma Watson and her co-stars Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe with Harry Potter and the revenue they’ve taken in for Warner Bros./Universal.

Incidentally, Emma is one of the highest paid actresses in the world for 2009 bringing in an estimated $30 million USD and Daniel Radcliffe is one of the top paid actors bringing in $41 million USD. BOTH of them are the TOP youngest paid actors of 2009.

So really, I was put off when I saw this cover and it’s tag line of “Young Hollywood” because, yes, granted all of the women on cover have accomplished something — there are others out there, under 30,  who fit the bill of immense success for the current state of Hollywood today, who did not make the cut.

  • What do you think of the March 2010 Vanity Fair cover?
  • Are they on the mark?
  • OR have they missed it by a long-shot?


Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida with a minor in Dance (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami (’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima or get a copy of the ‘Little Pink Book’ delivered to your Kindle.

Copyright © 2009-2010 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I've always been a fan of Vanity Fair's Young Hollywood isssue, but if you look back at the last 10 years, they aren't very racially diverse. 10 years ago maybe Hollywood wasn't very diverse, but like you pointed out, Freda Pinto and Zoe Saldana have just as much of a right to be on the cover as Kristen Stewart & co. As Jezebel points out here:… Teen Vogue does a good job of adding diversity in their magazine. Not sure why Vanity Fair can't follow suit (when in fact they should be leading the way)- maybe it has something to do with the fact of who their target audience is? In my opinions, it's Vanity Fair's loss- another magazine will be all too happy to feature a diversity of women on their cover, and VF will just look stupid.

    On the other hand, they could have known exactly what they were doing & did it on purpose to stir up controversy- no ones talked about Vanity Fair since the Miley Cyrus “scandal.”

  2. nmiller3465 says:

    Honestly, these ladies in the March 2010 cover closely resemble Children of the Corn in my opinion…pale, skinny, and light colored hair (minus the three brunettes but still). I think it's kind of creepy actually.

    Although I'm not a reader of Vanity Fair, [and I am completely making an assumption here] I could also see it as them trying to appeal and relate to their readers' demographics.

    I am more of a follower of mags like Cosmopolitan, Shape, Self, etc. which I think do show a pretty good range of diversity in the shapes/sizes/colors of their models. I am of Hispanic descent so perhaps subconsciously that is why I am more attracted to these magazines.

    Anyway, White + Tall + Skinny = White Tall Skinny Readers (IMO).

  3. Children of the corn – that made me laugh in an “OMG – thats so true” type of way.

  4. Or maybe it's because new Hollywood, like old Hollywood, is pretty, skinny, and white. Clearly, the girls pictured in the magazine didn't make the cut because of their acting accomplishments, so the magazine must either be talking about their a.) style, b.) look, or c.) potential for growth as an actress. Either way, they tried the women they didn't mention by inadvertently positing that they lack one of the three, which is racially insensitive.

    On the other hand, minority crossover actors and actresses are more rare than we would like to admit. Part of it is Hollywood's history of subtle discrimination. Part of it is that the standards they have for the female body rules out a lot of women who can act, like Gabourey Sidibe, from major roles. Part of it is that a lot of actors and actresses on both sides just can't act (yeah, I said it). Another part of it is that minority actors and actresses often pigeonhole themselves into roles where their race is a necessary part of the story or the movie's success. That's usually a career dead-end.

    The last factor alone could be a reason why the first four actresses that you mentioned are rarely considered. Overweight African-American youth. Thin, dark-skinned ambiguously ethnic. Slightly thick, pretty Latina. Pretty Indian girl. Each of them has played roles that were pretty much tailor made for people that look like them. Fair or not, Hollywood has always looked down at that in the long run.

    Slightly Controversial Point: at the end of the day, members of minorities have historically been recognized when they inarguably exceed their peers, not when they match them. Until we can call one of them the best, we should not be surprised when they get slighted. The Vanity Fair cover may have been racially insensitive, but no one should be surprised. It is Vanity Fair, lol.

  5. Yes, absolutely. This is actually very consistent in VF's behaviour for the past few years. But that doesn't make it right. Especially, since Vogue isn't doing this. And let's be honest — Vogue sets the standard and the rest try to compete. It's the way it's been and will be until Anna Wintour leaves. So the fact that VF is doing this and continues to do this makes them look stupid amongst other things … just like you said.

    It's exactly VF's loss because many other magazines will be more than happy to promote the girls that are out there to the masses ranking in the BILLIONS (i.e. Saldana and Watson).

    Thanks for your comment 🙂

  6. …me three. I read the first line and laughed out loud. 🙂

  7. Hi there, thanks for your comment.

    Actually, just to clear it up VF's target audience is the same (relatively) as Vogue's. And on that note, Vogue HAS and continues to diversify based on what's actually going on in society.

    So as another commenter pointed out, this will be VF's loss because another magazine, such as their competition — Vogue & Harper's — will gladly pick up some of the ladies who aren't in the mold of the VF cover and put them there.

    In my personal opinion, it's a disgusting display on VF's end and I have no interest in reading their magazine anymore. I'm sticking to Vogue. At least with Anna Wintour I know what I'm getting and she builds her magazine to reflect the society around her readers.

  8. Thanks for your comments Justin!

    That's the thing, a lot of people don't realize that VF's target audience is actually the same one as Vogue and rather than follow what Vogue is doing to keep their readers Vanity Fair is alienating them.

    The three in the same little bubble — so to speak — are Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper's B.

    Two of those three are diversifying their covers because they it's like a mirrored room — they are reflecting the magazine based on society and vice-versa. Vanity Fair has apparently thought that this wasn't what was going on.

    And it's sad because between Gabourey, Zoe and Emma Watson — they can knock the salaries, film gross and 'accomplishments' of the entire current VF cover girls out of the water combined. So it's disgusting how obvious it really it that something is wrong.

    That being said — you're right in a sense that no one should be surprised because it's Vanity Fair. But also, while Vanity Fair isn't following Vogue, no one should be surprised when VF's readership drops.

    That's the other and probably biggest issue here besides for the obvious. VF's competition is doing it — so why aren't they?

  9. The actresses in the photo shoot are many things, but the biggest is BORING. None of them will be remembered in two years' time. The trend of wet-eyed waif won't last. (I hope anyway.)

  10. I definitely agree with your sentiments for MOST of the cover girls.

    Thanks for your comments! 🙂

  11. AllAmericanMitsy says:

    GREAT post!

  12. i love your sight. And i agree, vanity fair is forgetting some of the most important publics. Latinas + people of all different backgrounds read such a magazine. Insensitive.

  13. i love your sight. And i agree, vanity fair is forgetting some of the most important publics. Latinas + people of all different backgrounds read such a magazine. Insensitive.