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Thandie Newton is upset with the lack of black cover models on “Vogue” magazine

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British actress Thandie Newton, star of such films as Mission Impossible II and The Pursuit of Happyness, has spoken up about the lack of diversity when it comes to the covers of major fashion magazines, especially Vogue. In a candid interview with Britain's Pride magazine, the thirty-nine-year-old of Zimbabwean descent said:

"Don't get me started on black people being on the cover of big magazines. It's so preposterous. I mean, I've been on the cover of Harper's Bazaar four times; I've been on the cover of InStyle four times, but Vogue, not once. And people say to me, I mean literally, people have said to me, 'What have you got against Vogue that you don't want to be on their cover?' And I just laugh. They [Vogue] don't feel the need to represent because it doesn't make any sense to them. It's just baffling to me, but as usual America will dictate the way things go and a magazine like Vogue will just follow America. But it's like, don't you want to trail blaze?"

There's probably two reactions to this. One is, good for her, speaking her mind, and giving it to that Prada-wearing she-devil (in a good way) Anna Wintour. Especially after a recent photo-op involving Vogue's seventeen international editors showed not one editor of African descent. It's also interesting to note that Newton has said she didn't fit in at her all-white catholic school, feeling like an "anomaly." But another reaction might be: what is she talking about? Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and Rihanna have all been featured on the cover of U.S. Vogue, it's just sour grapes because Newton isn't on their level.

Regardless of whether her specific gripe is justified or not, it does get people talking about arbitrary standards of beauty, and whether iconic cultural touchstones such as Vogue are truly representing the variegated faces of America. Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently posted an old letter to the editors at Vogue on his blog, from a seventeen-year-old pixie stick named Zooey Deschanel, his (500) Days of Summer co-star, which questioned the beauty "ideal" that the magazine seemed to perpetuate. And for years, many have decried the lack of African-American General Managers and executives in professional sports leagues. So it's an important conversation to have, when entrenched power institutions can sometimes succumb to a complacent lack of empathy.