Beyoncé’s “T Magazine” Cover is a Bigger Deal Than You Probably Realize

In the past month, you’d be hard-pressed to find any news about Beyoncé that didn’t revolve around the infamous elevator fight between her husband and younger sister after last month’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But we think that’s about to change, as the star covers the latest issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine.

While the profile hits on topics die-hard fans (and even most casual observers) are keen to — the visual album she released last December; the racy, hyper-sexual tracks that dominate it; the CIA-level secrecy it took to release it out of the blue (no pun intended); plus, a walk down memory lane to pinpoint how she went from girl-group lead singer to global superstar — and doesn’t unearth any new revelations, the photos are mildly styled, effortlessly executed and evoke an extraordinary confidence from an artist who knows she’s, as T declares, “the woman on top of the world.”

The cover choice is interesting in a broader sense too.

Since Deborah Needleman was selected as editor-in-chief of T in late 2012, nearly half of her covers have featured zeitgeist-y fashion designers or unknown-to-the-masses models. That’s one of the appeals of heading up a publication that’s neatly tucked into The Times, one of America’s most revered journalistic institutions: No newsstand pressure to sell X amount of issues with one of the handful of celebrities that “perform well.”

Still diversity has been missing in action on the cover and inside the pages — and for the record, Beyoncé is the first non-white or -European subject to be featured on the cover under Needleman’s watch, a point made not to police the editorial ambitions of a magazine and its editor. Instead, it’s to show that in an issue associated with the concept of culture, the fact that the powers-that-be realized that for better, worse, good or bad, Beyonce encapsulates it, is a shrewd move.

Pick the issue up on Sunday in the weekend edition of The New York Times and read the cover profile here.