Maria Borges stuns as the first African model on Elle in 20 years

By Phelicia Ball

Seldom do people of color make it on the cover of a magazine, unless you’re an athlete, Beyoncé or the color of the cream in my coffee (as if this makes you less black). And Elle Magazine is no exception.

It has been 20 years since an African model has appeared on the cover of Elle — that’s two decades. Think about that for a second, two whole decades. This month, however, Angolan model Maria Borges is taking Elle by storm.

It’s vital to reflect on the persistence of racism and the absence of people of color in the media. Whiteness, as an institution, thrives and this needs to change. If you think about it, it’s not really that surprising that it’s been two decades for Elle. But nonetheless, it is still disheartening.

For black women who indulge in fashion magazines such as Elle, the lack of representation is truly a stab in the back. It might not seem as serious to those who are frequently represented, but the way we think of ourselves largely comes from what we see in the media.

“When I was growing up, I never saw someone like me,” Borges told Elle for its May 2017 issue.  “Now the other girls can see someone like them. It’s all about inspiration.”

Elle, what took you so long to put this African queen on your cover? Thank you Maria Borges and Elle Magazine for ceasing that 20-year gap and sprinkling in a little Black Girl Magic.


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