Print magazines may have a short future, but for now, that doesn’t mean their glossy pages still can’t cause a fuss. These magazine covers provoked outrage, sparked debate, and even landed one innocent vendor in jail. From Vanity Fair to Rolling Stone, here are 12 of the most controversial magazine covers of all time.
Hundreds of magazines line the shelves of stores everywhere. What’s one way to compete in a flooded market? Cause controversy. Rolling Stone knew that putting a 17-year-old, scantily-clad Britney Spears on the cover in 1999 would cause an uproar. Savvy editors know how to make a magazine sell.
But not every one of these magazine covers that caused controversy was simply about the bottom line. Some took major risks in order to ignite debate. By the time Ellen DeGeneres hit the cover of TIME in 1997, we were already long overdue for a talk about trying to make it easier for the LGBTQ+ community to come out of the closet.
Check out all these magazine covers that sparked conversation, then make your voice heard. Vote up the cover that you think made the biggest impact.