Close your eyes and think about a standard magazine cover, the kind you see in every waiting room in the country. You’re probably envisioning a well-dressed female celebrity posing just so, eyes beckoning, glossy lips turned slightly upward at the corners. The magazine covers aimed at women can seem similar to the point of being monolithic, which is why the July issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly is so extraordinary.
The cover model for the magazine’s July issue? Turia Pitt, a mining engineer who survived serious burns to 65 percent of her body while trapped in a brush fire during an ultra-marathon. Not only has Pitt survived despite doctors’ predictions, she thrived. She published a memoir about her experiences, Everything to Live For, and walked the Great Wall of China for charity.
The magazine wrote that they chose Pitt “because she is quite simply one of the most impressive women you will ever hope to meet. Any attempt to describe the magic and beauty of Turia seems to get lost in platitudes or clichés,” said AWW editor-in-chief Helen McCabe. “Yet I have never met a more remarkable person.”
Pitt is a great example of diversity on magazine covers, of the kind that’s sorely needed. “Being on the cover of The Australian Women’s Weekly is a huge honor,” Pitt said. “For me, it sends the message that confidence equals beauty. There are a lot of women out there who are so beautiful but don’t have the confidence, and that’s what gets you over the line.”
Let Pitt be an example to other publishers of women’s magazines: Beauty comes in many vessels. Women need to see less gloss, and more grit. Less mascara, and more accomplishment. More women of color, more women with diverse backgrounds, just more. What if magazines started using women who didn’t look perfect on their covers? What if they started using women with unique faces and incredible back stories? Could we handle it? Yes, yes we could.