I am unclear if this is what’s going to be on newsstands, or if it’s the subscriber cover that they released just for publicity. It comes across almost like an album cover, or like Elle is using “God Is A Woman” as a way of saying Ariana Grande is God (it is, in fact, the title of her latest single). But the shot is probably the best of all of them here, even if it’s nowhere near as strong as her UK Vogue cover. In fact, abetted by the rash of pseudo au naturel covers, it almost feels derivative of that one. Which is unfortunate for Elle because planning and lead time means this was probably already shot by the time UK Vogue came out, and thus someone probably spent a couple weeks cursing very loudly through the hallways. That one, which also discusses her anxiety a bit in its profile piece, takes a bit of the wind out of these sails.

The writer did a nice job on this cover story, though (I love a good mille feulle reference). The Manchester incident seems to have affected Ariana Grande profoundly, as of course it would any thinking and feeling person, and she seems to have done the work to try and cope with it while simultaneously trying to support that city and others that have been affected by violence. I think she grew up a lot over the course of that year; she sounds in the piece a lot less like the pill who licked that donut, and more like someone who wants to summon and stand by the courage of her convictions even if that’s not the milquetoast no-drama approach:

A lot of mainstream top 40 types—those who, say, have a certain Reputation—are seemingly reluctant to take a political stance. The fear being, presumably, a loss of fan base and revenue. “That’s wild to me,” Ariana says. She is loud and proud in her anti-Trumpism and has aligned herself with gun reform and Black Lives Matter. I wonder if she’s gotten any backlash. “Of course!” she says. “There’s a lot of noise when you say anything about anything. But if I’m not going to say it, what’s the fucking point of being here? Not everyone is going to agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to shut up and sing my songs. I’m also going to be a human being who cares about other human beings; to be an ally and use my privilege to help educate people.” 

And I have to tell you, as much as her brother Franke irritated the heck out of me on Big Brother, I kind of dig Ariana’s mother:

At eight months pregnant with Ariana, Joan moved from New Jersey to Florida to open a marine communications equipment manufacturing company, which she still owns and operates. […] When Joan built her company, she did so with working mothers in mind: “I built this building with a day-care area. I actually had it certified. Employees brought their children, and Ariana was here almost every day.” I ask if she’s ever been tempted to quit her job, in light of her daughter’s astronomic success. Stupid question. “We’re very close,” she says of their relationship. “But I don’t live my life through her life. I have an amazing career. I work because it fulfills me as a person. Because I’m Joan, not Ariana, not Frankie. I would never want to lose Joan somewhere along the way.”

It’s a good read. I’m rooting for her.

[Photos: Elle]