Headlines on the Essence Magazine home page as of Aug. 25, 2015, address fashion, cosmetics, celebrity news, hair care, and romance and intimacy. Retirement planning and music festivals are other topics. Essence routinely covers political, cultural and social phenomena of acute concern to the African American community, including police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. The magazine's staff has also identified and challenged derogatory stereotypes about black women in U.S. mainstream media.
Essence is a lifestyle, fashion and beauty magazine tailored to African American women between the ages of 18 and 49. Thus, articles and feature stories primarily address issues and themes relevant to that demographic.
In 2005, Essence sponsored a nationwide campaign to confront misogyny, violence and objectification of women in rap music lyrics and videos, under the title "Take Back the Music."
Since 2005, Essence is a wholly owned subsidiary of the publishing corporation Time Inc. The decision of Essence's founders to sell the magazine's parent company to non-black owners upset some Essence readers, and subsequent editorial, advertising and personnel decisions have elicited further controversy.
Nonetheless, Essence won 12 awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists in 2008, in categories such as international, investigative, business and technology, science and health, and arts and entertainment.