Covers & Content: August 2017

How diverse were the August 2017 issues of Canada’s top fashion magazines? We report on this every month, taking into consideration the cover star as well as the representation in the fashion editorials. Read on to find out how this month’s issues fared.

Editor’s Note: Our top Canadian fashion magazines’ publishing calendars have been all over the map this year. FASHION’s “Summer” issue covered June and July, while Elle Canada’s “Summer” issue seemed to cover July and August (see below).

The Magazine: FASHION

The Cover Star: Gigi Gorgeous

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White. Note that this issue of FASHION is a record-breaker–this is the first Canadian fashion magazine in the history of this column (which we’ve been doing for about 4 years now) to feature a trans* cover star. While it’s been way too long in the making (hello, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Andreja Pejic, Jenna Talackova) who would also make excellent candidates for cover stars hint hint), still, FASHION leads the way!

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: Yes. This issue had two fashion editorials, the first starring one thin, black model. The second editorial starred folks of all backgrounds and genders.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No.


Note: this information is the same as what was reported last month

The Magazine: Elle Canada

The Cover Star: Michaela Kocianova

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: No! They had an opportunity to have some diversity and totally didn’t choose to; there was one fashion  editorial in this month’s issue and it starred two thin, white models. As such, this is a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No.

The 18 Books I Read in 2014 & My Commentary

By: Emily Y. 

Yea, I admit, it’s wayyy late to post a 2014 ‘round-up’-type article. However, I feel compelled to brag about share the list of the 18 books that I read over the course of the year. I included the list only (without descriptions) in my latest zine, so here’s the whole thing.

With this list I discovered my new favourite authors and began to more clearly define my ongoing project of creating and defining my own literary canon.

I decided to divide the books up by author, my comments on the book below.

The Orphans Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente


This is the very last book I read of 2014—I made this crazy goal between mid-November and end of the year to read 5 novels, and this was the 5th of five. This book was mesmerizing, made Valente one of my favourite authours. Honestly, it was probably my favourite out of all these books.

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Janet Mock is amazing and should be President. I would say Prime Minister but she’s American so it seemed more appropriate.

Women in Clothes by Leanne Shapton, Heidi Julavits, and Sheila Heti

This one was disappointing, read my review elsewhere on The Closet Feminist here.

The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

I read this one on a whim, I loved the gothic sublime landscapes in it. I loved that the main gal, Hannah, drank whiskey like nobody’s business.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin


This is a good summer read, and a fast one—it’s really more of a novella. It gave me an idea/life goal that I will write about later.

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth 

I watched the show before I read the book, and both were a delight. Worth’s memoirs are well-written and were made into a TV show for a reason. She must have been feminist, but either way had a marvellously engaging voice—I burned through this book in like a day and a half.

The Bride’s House by Dawn Powell

Come Back to Sorrento by Dawn Powell

My Home Is Far Away by Dawn Powell

My favourite Dawn Powell novel is actually Dance Night, but I read that at the end of 2013. All of these books are excellent. The Bride’s House is like an American Anna Karenina and totally worth the read. My Home Is Far Away is amazing and bittersweet. Come Back to Sorrento was my least favourite of the three, but still totally worth the read.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting


Read only if you dare but be forewarned—this is like Lolita except the protagonist is female and the underage child in question is a boy. Don’t get me wrong—Tampa was an excellent read, the sheer sociopathy of the protagonist trumps Gone Girl.

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath, edited by Karen V. Kukil

Did you know that Sylvia Plath liked to bake lemon meringue pies? She considered them her dessert. She wrote consistently about how much she wanted to be a mother, but when she had kids she didn’t write about them that much. These journals don’t have the witty and soulful insights that I read in Anaïs Nin’s diaries or Katherine Mansfield’s diaries, but Plath is clearly super smart and amibtious. I think she would have been a Ravenclaw.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan

This book was dreadful, and though it inspired an article for the CF. I didn’t like it one bit and could barely finish it, to be honest. Bonus points that it had LGBTQ2S content and that it talked about mental wellness, but it just didn’t come together for me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

I wish I was as brave as Elizabeth in this book. Her example was inspiring, I hope I grow up to be like her.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I get really, really touchy when people interrupt me reading. I just want to be left alone with my book, no exceptions. When I was on the heartbreaking essay “What We Hunger For,” someone interrupted me while I was reading. I was so wrapped up in the subject matter of this essay that I was deeply insulted by the person who interrupted me—how dare they demand my attention when I’m reading something so personal.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would—it’s a feminist witch classic. It ticks all my boxes—lots of women, interesting religious systems, outright feminist themes. I’m glad I read it though. The deal became sweeter when I discovered one of my BFF’s also read this book and that it was one of her favourites. Women talking about books. Yea, we do that.

Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

I have an unabashed love for Jacqueline Carey’s fantasy trilogies. To me they are so much more than sorta-pulpy erotic fantasy novels. I love the heroines, I love the interesting religious systems she writes about in the books. I love all the smart and talented women, I love that eroticism and sexuality is treated without shame. She writes explicitly about consent, it’s so great. Honestly, I would recommend these books to any gal looking for a crash course in shame-free sexuality. Bonus points—all her heroines are queer! Or at least the Naamah trilogy and the first three Kushiel books.

Want the straight-up list? Here it is, sorted alphabetically by the author’s last name:

Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath, edited by Karen V. Kukil

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

The Bride’s House by Dawn Powell

Come Back to Sorrento by Dawn Powell

My Home Is Far Away by Dawn Powell

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

Women in Clothes by Leanne Shapton, Heidi Julavits, and Sheila Heti

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley


Covers & Content Annual Review 2014, Part 1: Elle Canada

2014 has come to a close, so it’s time to look back on every issue printed this year by Canada’s three top fashion magazines: Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, to see how diverse they were overall and compared to last year.

This review will be divided into three parts (one for each magazine), just like we did last year. Posting will be done alphabetically, so Elle Canada is up first!

For a review of this project, please check out the FAQ page here.


Elle Canada, what happened to you this year??


Last year, Elle Canada came in second for most cover stars of colour, and this year they had ZERO cover stars of colour exclusively. A note should be made though–yes, Kayla Clarke made an appearance on the August 2014 cover BUT there are three serious caveats to consider:

1. She did not star solo on the cover, but was one of three models on the cover.


2. As you can see from the cover, she appeared as part of a Token Diversity Cover, which may be considered akin to a Token Diversity Spread (Token Diversity Spread: When a fashion magazine books/uses an ensemble of models, including some models of colour or models representing other minorities in the fashion world like plus size models or visibly older models, but are careful not to allow the minorities chosen to make up the majority of the spread or the majority of models chosen.)

3. She (nor any of the other models for that matter) did not get an in-depth interview or accompanying story to go with her cover. The three models shared a one paragraph-long interview.

This is pretty shocking, as Elle Canada had 4 cover stars of colour last year, and its competitors, Flare and Fashion both managed more cover stars of colour (we’ll get there, don’t want to spoil the total yet). Tsk, tsk, tsk.


The January 2014 issue of Elle Canada was a Whiteout Issue, starring Cate Blanchett on the cover, and contained two fashion editorials, both starring one thin, white model each. This issue stood out as it contained an interview with Jenna Talackova. Incidentally, she would have been a great cover star for Elle Canada–take note, editorial team.


The February issue was pretty slim, Kate Mara starred on the cover and it had no editorials, only a trend/runway report.


Scan 3

Above: Scan from editorial “Top Ten” in Elle Canada March 2014.

For the first time this year, Elle Canada returned to a fashion magazine classic and had a model star on the cover, Logan, who is Canadian. Unfortunately, this didn’t do much for diversity as Logan appears to be thin and white. There were three editorials this month. Two of these editorials were status quo, starring one thin, white model each. The third editorial starred four black models, representing the first time this year Elle Canada booked models of colour for an editorial. Something interesting to note though about this editorial:

1. It was the first and only time a female model appeared entirely nude in a shoot throughout Elle Canada‘s publishing year.

Scan 4

 Above: Scan from editorial “Top Ten” in Elle Canada March 2014.

2. It is interesting that four black models had to share a spread when immediately following, two white models got to star in their own spread.


April was a blah blah basic Whiteout Issue, starring Emily VanCamp on the cover, and two editorials both starring one thin, white model.


elle canada may 2014

Above: Perhaps this model is sulking because the issue she was in, May 2014, just missed the mark of being a really great, feminist issue.

Damn, too bad the May Elle Canada was a Whiteout Issue, because it was otherwise Elle Canada‘s most feminist issue of the year! It literally had an article on fashion and feminism (which, you know, is kind of what we’re all about here at The Closet Feminist). This issue also focused on female artists like Winnie Truong which was really cool (for more on women, art, and fashion, be sure to check out our Inspired by Art Herstory column). Lastly, it featured a Kelis interview, and she’s badass. Interestingly, both Elle Canada and Fashion featured brief interviews with Kelis this year to discuss her latest album, Food, but neither decided to give her a cover story. The May cover, by the way, featured Rose Byrne.


June was yet another Whiteout Issue, starring Emma Roberts on the cover, and had two editorials, both featuring one thin, white model each.


Scan 5

Above: The weird, second “cover” featuring Ashley Graham in Elle Canada‘s July issue.

The July issue of Elle Canada was kinda….weird. It was another Whiteout Issue, and Gisele was the cover star, but then they did this odd second cover, immediately behind Gisele’s starring top ‘plus’ model Ashley Graham.

The pull quote on Graham’s “cover” reads, “Everyone wants to talk about plus size models right now.” Ironically (and sadly), Graham’s interview is super-short. To add insult to injury, this issue has two editorials, but there isn’t a ‘plus’ model in sight, as both feature one thin, white model each.

Lastly, it seems Graham’s cover is a classic controversial cover–we can’t really see her face or her body, which is a fatphobic trick magazines seem to use when they have a ‘plus’ cover star.

Given all this, the July issue seems like the biggest #fail of the year for Elle Canada, not to mention its the FOURTH Whiteout Issue in a row.


Scan 6

Above: A scan of one of the two pages that the three models shared. Honestly, it’s a bad picture of all of them. Way to phone it in, Elle Canada.

Now we come to the August issue, which has already been torn apart in the opening comments. Technically, it breaks Elle Canada‘s streak of Whiteout Issues, but just barely. As mentioned, there were three cover stars, Canadian models Pamela Bernier, Sophie Touchet, and Kayla Clarke. The models, however, do not get an editorial nor a full length interview, the three of them share a paragraph-long interview.

Weirdly, there is one editorial this month, and while it gets points for showing off the creations of Canadian designers, it stars one thin, white model. This is kind of odd, because they clearly had Kayla Clarke in their studio at one point, why not just book her for this shoot instead?



Above: Grace Mahary stars in “Mod Love” in Elle Canada September 2014

And now we come to the September Issue of  Elle Canada, which is any fashion magazine’s biggest issue of the year. Thankfully, it is not a Whiteout Issue. It starred Mia Wasikowska on the cover, and had three editorials. The first starred Canadian Model (and woman of colour) Grace Mahary exclusively, yay! The other two editorials were status quo, featuring a single thin, white model each.


October saw to another Whiteout Issue, featuring Drew Barrymore on the cover. Despite having three editorials this month, Elle Canada decided to not book a single model of colour, as all three starred one thin, white model each. Booooo!



Above: Hereith Paul stars in “Evening Star” in Elle Canada November 2014.

Masters of Sex star Lizzy Caplan landed the November cover of Elle Canada. This issue had three editorials, the first starred one thin, black model, the other two were status quo editorials.


Apparently committed to finish off their super-status quo year, Elle Canada closed out their publishing year with Hilary Duff on the cover of their December issue. There were two editorials, both starring a thin, white model each. Talk about anticlimactic!


Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 1.43.41 PM

Above is a table of how each 2014 issue of Elle Canada fared in terms of diversity this past year.

Elle Canada put out twelve issues this year, though only featured a cover star of colour. Of these twelve issues, seven of them were Whiteout Issues.

They did twenty-six editorials total this year. Of these, none featured a ‘plus’ size model. Three editorials total featured models of colour.

Bottom line, Elle Canada, you are a great magazine, but we know you can do better, you did last year! If you’re stuck on building a more diverse publication, The Closet Feminist humbly recommends you consider the following celebs as cover stars for 2015:


Jenna Talackova

Lupita Nyong’o

Laverne Cox

Janet Mock

Jourdan Dunn

FKA Twigs

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (she really loves fashion!)

Alexa Chung

Jamie Chung


Mindy Kaling


Rebel Wilson

Nicki Minaj

Kerry Washington


Melissa McCarthy

Lucy Liu


Stella Jean

…just to name a few amazing ladies we’d love to see land a cover story of your magazine.



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