Rolling Stone’s Cover Women Rarely Wear Bras

by Hanna Lustig

We were stoked to see Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon grace the cover of Rolling Stone this month, seemingly an affirmation from the gods that feminism is on the rise. Framed by the magazine’s cursive logo, the two are pictured braless, windblown hair flying back in tousled waves. The image is beautiful, but it was created according to a pretty sexist formula. 

With access to their pick of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, Rolling Stone typically shoots their cover girls in one of three ways, according to Fusion writer Kelsey McKinney: clothed, shirtless with a bra, or close-up headshot. There’s nothing new or bothersome about female nudity or the expression of sexuality, but statistics like these send a clear message to women within and outside the industry: In order to land a cover, you need to pose a certain “way.” A breakdown of Rolling Stone’s 244 female covers reveals even more sobering truths about the way media still pressures and portrays women.

Gender-nonspecific close-ups of faces and fully clothed shots are common denominators, depicting men and women the same way.

There are also a few instances of male nudity in Rolling Stone, like John Lennon’s nude cover.

Such examples, however, remain outliers at best. And to us, that seems more than a little messed up. What of women’s growing cultural significance and power in the male-dominated music industry? What of Rolling Stone’s 37 percent female readership, myself included? What of PROGRESS?

I don’t have a solution, BUSTies, but this seems like a dialogue worth having. Peruse the covers yourself, and while you’re at it, why not let Rolling Stone know what you think?

Images courtesy of Rolling Stone and Fusion Digital. 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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