Another shot at diversity in fashion magazines

Last week I was reading this interview with Cecile Narinx, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar in which she spoke about diversity. Narinx referred to her eye-opening appearance in Pauw earlier that year (a Dutch talkshow) in which she was confronted by lifestyle journalist Janice Deul and model Jessica Gyasi with the lack of persistence in trying to be a more diverse magazine.

After all, she used a black model on a cover years ago but that issue didn’t sell that good which could have had several causes. But the argument that a darker model sells less is one that’s been used in the media system of “fashion magazines”. This argument is hardly funded, since there’s no proof that this particular model was the reason it didn’t sell that good. Narinx agrees with that reasoning, that it shouldn’t be used as an excuse.

This September, Narinx decided to change that and addressed diversity by making an entire issue about it. Besides that, with fellow editors in chief of Elle and Vogue (together three well-read fashion magazines) they made a statement that there must be more attention for diversity in the field of fashion magazines.

I think this is a current development that is interesting since in the early eighties an effort toward more diversity was also made, but never really succeeded. Will this be different this time? Diversity is a topic that is very present in many media-related discussions, for example about Dutch editorial teams who are mostly white and whether the people you see on television are diverse enough. So, I feel like there’s a good chance of succeeding.

Deuze and Prenger (2016) state that “A significant focus in the field of journalism studies is directed toward innovation and entrepreneurialism” and in that context. I feel like Narinx really tries to be innovative by taking the lead in the discourse and putting a plus-size model on the next issue. Also, I think she has an entrepreneurial attitude in which she encourages others to do the same and help her with the change.

By Anne Myrthe Korvinus


Deuze, Mark & Prenger, Mirjam, “The structural history and theory of innovation and entrepreneurialism in journalism”, forthcoming in Boczkowski, Pablo & Anderson, Chris, Remaking the News, Cambridge: MIT Press. 2016.

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