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News of Teyana Taylor becoming the first Black woman to become Maxim’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” hit the Internet two days ago as her stunning cover photo swarmed social media. Teyana Taylor becoming the first to do so isn’t as shocking as it may seem in the year 2021, because Black people are continuously breaking barriers in print, beauty and fashion.

These firsts from historical Black women and Black Trans women models and public figures may surprise you. After a little digging, we discovered these Black women were the first to appear in a series of major publications like Playboy, American Vogue and Time magazine. Some of the groundbreaking talent featured within this article may be familiar to fans who keep up with print and fashion history. However, many of these women’s accomplishments are often forgotten. It is important to highlight the moments that came before Teyana’s major Maxim moment.

Take a look at this list of pioneers in print, who became the first to appear and contribute to these predominantly White mainstream publications.

1. Teyana Taylor for Maxim


Teyana Taylor recently made history as Maxim’s Sexiest Woman Alive. She became the first Black woman to appear on the cover in this special issue. Black women haven’t been at the center of Western beauty, but that narrative is obviously changing. 

2. Beverly Ann Johnson for American Vogue


Beverly Ann Johnson was the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974. In 1975, Johnson became the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle.

She is a true pioneer for Black models in the editorial beauty industry. 

3. Jennifer Jackson for Playboy


Jennifer Jackson was the first black woman to be a Playboy Bunny and a centerfold in the magazine as Miss March 1965. She was the first to break the color barriers for the magazine. She recalls Hefner’s role in her groundbreaking pictoral saying,“Hef was kind of like a pimp, a high-class pimp.”

Here she’s pictured with her twin sister in a Playboy bunny costume. 

4. Darine Stern for Playboy


Darine Stern became the first Black model to pose on a Playboy cover by herself. She’s seen flaunting a flawless fro in all of her glory covered by this 70’s styled Playboy bunny chair. 

5. Lana Ogilvie for CoverGirl


Lana Ogilvie was the first Black model to sign a contract with CoverGirl cosmetics in 1992. She was discovered at a high school fashion show, which later led to her becoming the first Black model contracted with CoverGirl. Ogilvie also walked for brands such as Prada, Azzedine Alaïa, Karl Lagerfeld and more.

6. Helen Williams for Mainstream Advertising


There were other models before her, but Helen Williams was the first black model to cross over into mainstream advertising in the 1950s. Williams made it possible for the other Black women on this list to excel in the beauty and fashion industries. 

7. Tina Turner for Rolling Stone


Tina Turner was the first Black woman and first Black person to grace the cover of Rolling Stone in 1969. 

8. Laverne Cox for Time


Laverne Cox became the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine on this day in 2014. She captions a recent Instagram post of the cover reminiscing about the experience, “being a cover girl was a dream come true for me.. But the Time Magazine cover which declared “The Transgender Tipping Point” carried a huge responsibility.” 

9. Dana Scruggs for Rolling Stone


Dana Scruggs became the first Black photographer to shoot the cover of the iconic Rolling Stone magazine in 51 years. She shot Travis Scott for “The Year in Music” issue in 2018. 

10. Rihanna for The Big 4 in Vogue


Rihanna’s most recent “Do It Yourself” issue in Vogue Italia makes her the first Black woman to join Madonna as the only singers to achieve “The Big Four” in Vogue history. Rihanna has graced all four of Vogue’s biggest covers: American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue Paris and Vogue Italia.

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