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February 25, 2014

Southern Living Magazine’s First-Ever Cover Girl Met with Uncertainty

Southern Living Magazine March 2014 Issue Hayden Panettiere Cover Girl First in 42 YearsTradition runs deep south of the Mason-Dixon line, so when Southern Living magazine debuted its first-ever cover girl, the move was met with a lot of questions. Many are wondering whether the change could be a sign of things to come.

Southern Living magazine’s latest issue has been making the headlines, all because it stepped out of its 48-year-old tradition of not featuring a gal or guy on its glossy cover.

When word broke on the iconic regional magazine’s Facebook page, the response was swift and clear—it was not a good idea. Overwhelmingly.

“Nashville” star and resident Hayden Panettiere broke Southern Living’s mold of featuring pretty cakes on pretty tables and stately Southern homes on its cover. Appearing on the March 2014 issue, Panettiere is talking life on the set and at home in the Music City.

Bucking tradition period is often met with resistance in a region that holds them quite dear. Just consider that a Southern Living magazine subscription amounts to a rite of passage, handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter and so on.

Ask any Southern gal, and if she doesn’t subscribe to the title, odds are she remembers that her mother did and that she could probably lay her hands on some older issues during a trip home.

It’s quite possible that the magazine’s reputation for sharing recipes, home décor tips, and gardening advice could be viewed by some as a little dated. So incorporating more fashion and style tips—which this latest issue did, billing itself as the “Spring Style Guide”—and even a recognizable regional face may give Southern Living a more modern feel. Or at least one that may appeal to younger readers.

To be fair, when the news first broke, it sounded like there might be two covers—one for subscribers and one for the newsstand. In reality, there is a front cover—featuring the typical stately Southern home—and a back cover—featuring Panettiere and a “Special Bonus Section” about fashion.

Issues in the past have touched on fashion, usually taking a look at the style of a mother-and-daughter pair. They may even recommend a beauty product or two, even feature a Southern fashionista or designer.

But to dedicate a section and a cover to fashion left many readers and fans with the fear that their beloved Southern Living was turning into one of those magazines, one that eventually would be dedicated to celebrities and star style. The general sentiment was that there was just too many of them and only one Southern Living.

What would you think about Southern Living possibly including more fashion coverage?



About the Author

Michelle Ryan
Michelle Ryan
Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.