Joan Smalls on the Cover of Elle is a Bold Move for the Magazine

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    Puerto Rican supermodel Joan Smalls is on the January cover of Elle magazine. It was the model’s first American Elle cover, and a first Elle shoot for photographer michael Thompson.

    This particular choice of a cover model is notable because Elle typically features bonafide celebrities on their cover (not that Smalls somehow isn’t a bonafide celeb, but you know what we mean). Like most glossies, Elle often depends on celebs gracing their covers in order to sell issues. Even more interesting than the fact that a model is on the cover is the fact that said model is black – a double minority of sorts for American titles.


    Smalls addresses race and how it has impacted her career in the accompanying interview. According to, Smalls ranks as the world’s number one supermodel. Smalls is poised to use her influence when urging diversity in the pages of Elle and elsewhere.

    “People hide behind the word aesthetic,” she told Elle. “They say, ‘Well, it’s just that designer’s aesthetic.’ But when you see 18 seasons in a row and not one single model outside a certain skin color…? There are people in the industry who are advocates, who support diversity. And there are people who do not. I don’t get it. Beauty is universal. These doors have to open.”

    The 25-year-old model was draped in Givenchy for the cover shot (and looks beyond amazing). Head over to to check out the full story and other photos from the shoot.

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