Designing the Black Female Consumer: The Cover Designs of the South African Women’s Magazine, TRUELOVE


The years preceding the end of apartheid in South Africa saw a gradual increase in the size of the black middle class which accelerated substantially in the decades after 1994. With an increase in expendable income came the launch of magazine titles aimed at black consumers. For example, TRUELOVE magazine – originally established in 1972 as a photo-story magazine aimed at migrant mine workers – changed ownership in 1984, and was strategically repositioned as a women’s magazine aimed at black female readers. As one of the first magazines in South Africa exclusively aimed at black women TRUELOVE has received some critical attention. However, no study has tracked the changes in its cover designs over the nearly forty years since the magazine’s relaunch as a women’s magazine. The proposed paper will report on the findings of an analysis of the cover design of the magazine, inclusive of the cover lines and images, and account for the design changes by way of historical contextualisation. It will demonstrate how the cover designs constructed a representation of the black female market, thereby exposing the sources drawn on for their design and highlighting what types of femininities were valued by the magazine. Identifying the valorised femininities will allow for speculation on the social effects of the cover designs.


Deirdre Pretorius
Associate Professor, Graphic Design, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Elna Rossouw
Lecturer, Department of Communication and Media, University of Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Magazine cover design, Target market, TRUELOVE Magazine, Consumerism, Black female

Digital Media

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