Esquire Magazine faced significant criticism over its February cover, which featured a 17-year-old white male who is profiled in a story titled "An American Boy."
The story is a longform profile about Ryan Morgan, a teenager from Wisconsin who lives in an extremely conservative area. The story focuses on the challenges he faces in the current era, such as the threat of school shootings, #MeToo, debates over the value of masculinity, and others.
There are several categories of outrage that were directed at Esquire for running this piece, Fox News reported:
Some are mad that Esquire is featuring a white male on the cover during Black History Month. "Esquire really making choices, during Black History Month, no less," wrote Rachel Vorona Cote.
Others are mad because they believe features on average white teenagers are unnecessary. "Really @esquire 'what's it like growing up white, middle class and male...' How idiotic!" wrote Karamo Brown of the Netflix show "Queer Eye." "It's the same as it's always been... full of privilege that women, people of color, lgbtq people & immigrants don't have! I'm done."
Then some people are mad that, despite it being a series that will also feature members of minority groups, Esquire decided to start with the white male. "The Editor explains the cover: 'Twenty-six years later, we decided to follow that model but to enlarge it into a series on growing up now—white, black, LGBTQ, female—that will continue to appear in coming issues'" wrote Abigail Collazo, communications director for Stacey Abrams. "Ok, but think about the profile you chose to start with."
The backlash was so severe that Esquire's Editor in Chief Jay Fielden had to publish a separate article defending the choice.
"What we asked [author Jennifer Percy] to do—and she did brilliantly—was to look at our divided country through the eyes of one kid," Fiedlen wrote. "Ryan Morgan is his name. He's white, lives in the middle of the reddest county in Wisconsin, and, as you will see, he is an unusually mature, intelligent, and determined young man."