On the heels of its gorgeous Serena Williams cover on its September issue, Essence has been on-point. It just released a digital cover for its October issue paying tribute to the fact that — for the first time in history — Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA are all black women. The October print mag as a whole had a “Crown Yourself” theme into which this slid beautifully, with Nia Franklin, Cheslie Kryst, and Kailiegh Garris posing together in custom Dapper Dan for Gucci outfits, proudly wearing their diadems and their gorgeous natural curls. From the accompanying essay:
Black women not only create crowns out of our hair, we also crown our crowns in the most majestic ways. We wear elaborate hats and regal head wraps not to hide our hair but to glorify its beauty, creativity and power. Whether Black women are standing on the floor of the Senate or napping in a college dorm lounge, their presence alone is often seen as an act of aggression—yet we refuse to diminish ourselves for the benefit of the underdeveloped vision of others. In the face of the brutality, ignorance and blandness of White supremacy and its standards of beauty, Black women dare to flaunt our flyness by adding extra embellishment to our already radically expressive heads.
We are only too much for those without enough.
The print issue featured Drinks With Broads member Tracee Ellis Ross:
She is so freaking commanding. The weird thing about this is the block of wood just sitting there gracelessly, although I understand why Photoshopping it out would leave an image that didn’t quite make sense. Couldn’t they have dressed it up a little bit? Tracee herself is carrying so much; I don’t think it would hurt the frame if the box did more work in that regard also. Maybe Box was a total diva, or showed up too hung over to sit in the makeup chair. Anyway, regardless, it’s a striking cover, but LOOK at this photo from inside:
I wish they’d found a way to make THAT the cover. I think it’s marvelous and majestic.
Tracee is developing a hair care line, but she did a Q&A with the magazine that talks about more than that.
ESSENCE: So many women consider you a best friend in their heads. You’re relatable in a way that is rare with someone who’s lived a life like yours.
ROSS: The truth is, I’m glad they can identify with me, because I identify with them. I feel like we are a community of sisters out here. That kind of makes me cry a little bit, because we are a community of sisters told by mainstream society that we are not the thing, and I know I’ve had to make my own way through that messaging. I look out and see other sisters and think, I see you. Do you see me? Because I see you. That was really what I felt in that moment of my Golden Globes win. It was lovely for that light to shine in my direction, but we have been shining out here. I don’t know about you, but I see women and Black women being the leads all over the place. In so many unique and extraordinary ways we’re changing the script, curating our own lives, handling so much with grace and humanity and joy.
She is just a balm to the soul in these chafing times.