The Reason Some Folks Are Upset About ‘People’ Mag’s Most Beautiful Woman Winner

In the past 26 years, only four women of color have won the title.
Actor Jennifer Aniston arrives at the 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California, Jan. 17. (Photo: Danny Moloshok/Reuters)
Apr 20, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

While Jennifer Aniston said that she was “very excited” to be honored by People as its 2016 World’s Most Beautiful Woman, some people are calling out the nomination on social media as an example of how a European standard of beauty dominates the entertainment industry.

On Wednesday morning, the publication revealed that the 47-year-old was this year’s winner, and people on Twitter immediately weighed in on the choice. While some detractors threw digs directly at Aniston and her appearance, several others criticized the magazine for missing an opportunity to feature a woman of color on its cover.

Since the list debuted in 1990, only a handful of women of color have nabbed the title: Halle Berry in 2003, Jennifer Lopez in 2011, Beyoncé in 2012, and Lupita Nyong’o in 2014. No Asian American woman has ever been chosen.

In the 30-year history of the magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” edition, only one man of color has received the title: Denzel Washington in 1996.

This year People had a diverse group of women to choose from. The magazine hypes the popular edition by offering a sneak peek of women up for the title. Five of the eight contenders were women of color, including Sofia Vergara, Keke Palmer, and Selena Gomez.

Some Twitter users offered alternative suggestions for women of color worthy of the title.

Others noted that naming Aniston the World’s Most Beautiful Woman reinforced Eurocentric beauty standards preferred by Hollywood. More than 74 percent of speaking roles across 109 top films went to white people in 2014. About 70 percent of TV characters across more than 300 broadcast, cable, and digital networks were played by white people, according to a USC study released in February.

White celebrities also take up the bulk of print space, representing 77 percent of the cover models of international fashion magazines in 2015, according to a tally by The Fashion Spot.

Not everyone took issue with People’s selection, noting that Aniston is only the second female winner over 45 (the first being Sandra Bullock, who won last year). Yet despite featuring a woman in her late 40s, the cover indicates the Friends star will dish on her “secrets for staying young.”