Written by: Kayla Nelson
For Hispanic Heritage month, Elle decided to create an entire issue dedicated to showcasing designers, models, and leaders in the Latinx community. The Editor-in-Chief of Elle, Nina Garcia, considered this issue a long time in the making for herself as a member of the community. This year was the inaugural year of the Latinx issue and will continue in the future. The decision to create a Latinx issue was to highlight the contributions the community has made in fashion for a long time. Latinx people are hardly featured in fashion magazines without presenting a whitewashed version. This issue’s goal was to authentically represent the designer and model in relation to their culture. Although the issue was praised by many people, there were several important criticisms made.
First, the issue focused on Selena Gomez, a light skinned Latina, wearing designer clothes such as Chanel. The other brands featured in the spread included Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Moschino. The lack of Latinx designers and styling made people question whether the issue truly wanted to embrace latin culture. Selena Gomez is styled with blonde Marilyn Monroe hair and European designers. Critics felt that Elle could have embraced Selena’s Mexican heritage like in her Allure cover.
Next, the issue had little to no representation of Afro-Latinx people which perpetuates the issue of colorism within the fashion industry. The issue failed to even acknowledge the Afro-Latinx community within the essay about the contributions from the Latinx community. The issue did represent Latinx people with tanned skin which receive little representation compared to light skinned Latinx people. People on social media believed that Elle should publish several covers for this issue in the future to highlight celebrities with different skin tones that represent the Latinx community. This would allow Elle to showcase popular and rising Latinx celebrities.
Many critics were quick to place blame on Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia, who is Colombian, for whitewashing the issue. Selena is pictured in mainstream designers like Gucci and Chanel. Plus, she is styled to appear like Marilyn Monroe who is an American icon. Elle missed an opportunity to showcase a lesser known Latinx celebrity that could have benefitted from the exposure.
Fortunately, the Latinx issue will be published annually each Hispanic heritage month which would give Elle the opportunity to improve upon Latinx representation. Next year, it would be great to see featured celebrities, models, and designers in clothes designed by Latinx designers. Elle missed the mark when they decided to use mainstream European designers such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Elle needs to include people from the Afro-Latinx community as they are influential to American fashion. Elle magazine needs to be aware of their representation of Latinx designers throughout the year. They could be accused of performative activism if they push out all of their Latinx designers from their normal issues.
When I asked who Elle should place on their cover next year, I receive suggestions such as Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Bad Bunny. Elle is taking a step in the right direction with their yearly Latinx issue. However, there are major criticisms that they must take into consideration for their future issues. Otherwise, these issues will negatively impact the community they are trying to represent. Comment down below your thoughts about Elle’s Latinx issue or who you think should be on next year’s cover.