Istood and knocked tentatively on my publisher’s office door, holding a printout of my latest cover gingerly in my fingertips. The cover I held in my sweaty hands this time was Beyoncé, and she looked … well, she looked like Beyoncé. She looked perfect.
The publisher held the cover in her hands and looked at it approvingly. “It’s wonderful,” she said, nodding. I gave a relieved little sigh and turned to leave the room. But, just as I got to the door, she glanced back up from her computer screen and piped up, nonchalantly, as though having an afterthought: “Are you going to make her skin a little lighter?”
I was shook, not really sure if she was joking. I stammered something incomprehensible in response and ran through the halls in a mad panic to get to my art director, who’d been around longer than me and who confirmed for me that this was an actual thing. “Black cover stars don’t sell in Australia,” I was constantly told by everyone who should know. And neither, I’d be told at other times, did Asians, plus-sized bodies, pregnant people, freckles or redheads.
And actually it’s evidence of the preferences of the peeps out there in magazinereadingland.
You know, women.