#MagLoveTop10: Most shocking magazine covers of 2013

TOP 10 Shocking

(This column was originally posted on MarkLives.com, where MediaSlut has a regular slot)

You get ‘good’ shocking and you get ‘bad’ shocking. Sometimes, a magazine cover makes you stop and look. And think . Sometimes, you just stop — what’s been done is just plain wrong. Here’s my #MagLoveTop10 list of the Most Shocking Covers of 2013, all of which had tongues wagging…

This is the fourth part of our #MagLoveTop10 magazine cover series, which includes:

Want to view all the covers at a glance? See our MagLove Pinboard!

10. YOU, 9 May 2013

YOU, 9 May 2013

I’m sure YOU magazine has been kicking itself for referring to then-pregnant Kate Middleton as a “waif” (“commonly used to describe an incredibily thin person, usually a woman”) and Kim Kardashian as a “whale” (self-explanatory).

By reading the comments on social media, I could see that its readers took offence to these terms, but they also took to the letters page of YOU to voice their opinions.

I would say this was a whale-of-a-mistake…



9. Treats!, Issue 5, 2013  

Treats!, Issue 5, 2013 Treats 5 foldout

Look at just the cover, and it doesn’t seem like anything special, except for the image being turned around…

But open the foldout cover, and you’re in for a treat — depending upon your tastes, of course! A very smart and clean (not riddled with cover lines) way to hide an otherwise potentially offensive cover, something unique  that stands out for me.



8. De Kat, September/October 2013

De Kat September/October English 2013De Kat September/October Afrikaans 2013

De Kat’s October 2013 cover(s) also made it to my #MagLoveTop10 Best South African Covers of 2013, coming in at no. 8.

This was probably one of the SA magazine covers that elicited the most response from the media, and readers, some good, and some not so flattering for Elzabé Zietsman… The shock-factor was too much for some retailers, as all but Exclusive Books refused to stock this issue…

It definitely got people talking!



7. CANDY, Winter 2013 / 2014

Lady Gaga by Steven Klein for CANDY magazine fall 2013/winter 2014 issue

CANDY regularly publishes controversial and shocking covers. I mean, it’s a magazine catering for the very niche transvestite market, and only prints 1 500 copies, so it really can go wild!

This cover shocked me and, I think, the only reason why it wasn’t talked about a lot more is because of it’s 18+ age restriction and because most blogs have to warn readers that it’s Not Safe For Work.

That being said, I believe photographer Steven Klein has created yet another piece of art and that Lady Gaga looks great, even if she’s got a Charlie-Chaplin-Scorpio-on-Nipple-and-Naked vibe going…



6. Rolling Stone, August 2013

Rolling Stone, August 2013

If you recognise this cover, you probably saw the media storm it created on social media, bans for it to be taken off shelves, or that profits were donated to the Boston Bombing victims. Love it or hate it, it was one of the most-shared and -talked about (if not the most) magazine covers of 2013!

The storm has long passed, and I think a lot of people realised they overreacted without knowing the full story (such as for example, that Rolling Stone didn’t shoot this profile picture of him to make him look like a rock star but that it’s an old picture of Tsarnaev).

Interesting: AdWeek named this cover the “Hottest Cover of the Year”, and saying that it’s “hands-down the most memorable cover of the year”. I think the cover has great value, and that a lot of the attention it received was out of context.



5. Time Out London, 12 February 2013  

Time Out London, 12 February 2013

Let’s be honest:  we’re all seeing two bodies (red is male, and white is female), and Big Ben represents a big…

The cover also made my #MagLoveTop10 Best International Covers of 2013 on its creative and design merits, yet it’s also pornographic. I do  wonder how it was received by the readers (and people walking passed the shelves)…



4. Playboy South Africa, March 2013  

Playboy South Africa, March 2013

At the beginning of 2013, South Africans were shocked by several horrible rapes (every rape is horrible, but the Anene Booysen case made everyone sit up and listen). Playboy South African took a stand against violence of any form towards women, and it dedicated an entire cover to promoting its message to its readers. It was bold and brave, and hopefully opened up some well-needed dialogue…

You can read more about this issue, and how the magazine continued the message inside the issue, by clicking here.



3. MAXIM South Africa, October 2013

MAXIM South Africa, October 2013

It was with much excitement that South Africans heard in September that we’d be getting a South African version! Unfortunately, the excitement on the launch date turned negative upon a social media outcry that focused on the very (VERY!) photoshopped Lee-Ann Liebenberg.

As South Africans, we all know that she’s extremely beautiful, so it baffling why the magazine had to go overboard like this, ending up being a Photoshop-Fail-for-the-Books…

Luckily, its next covers have all improved with each issue, restoring some faith in the new South African brand.



2. Fairlady, July 2013

Fairlady, 7 July 2013

With its July 2013 issue, Fairlady in South Africa published a beautiful Brooke Shields with her two daughters on the cover. The only problem is that the picture was taken in 2008…

Shields always looks youthful, so if it were only her on the cover, one might not even notice. But, because of the children, who were five and two in 2008 and thus 10 and 7 this year, her fans would immediately know something is not right… this is a five-year-old image! Ouch! Misleading the readers, I would say.

This has to be one of the biggest cover bloopers of 2013…

You can read more about the story behind this cover, and the response from the editor, by clicking here.



1. Lucky Peach, Summer 2013

Lucky Peach, Summer 2013 (Male)

Lucky Peach, Summer 2013 (Female)

If you’re going to use food to illustrate sex in support of your “Gender Issue”, you might as well just go completely overboard with every single food item that resembles the male and female genitals…

One such item on the cover alone would have been shocking, so do dozens more have more of an effect? Bizarrely, it does (as with all Lucky Peach’s other covers, too…)! The only difference here is that it’s done very creatively and tastefully, and for that reason, this cover comes in at the no. 1 position for Most Shocking Magazine Cover of 2013!


(Now, go on — go and have some fruit to get your body back into shape after the holidays ;-)

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