by Carmen Van Kerckhove Thanks to bertie and Philip Arthur Moore for the tips on…
Month: February 2007
by Carmen Van Kerckhove The latest racist campus party comes to us from California’s Santa…
by guest contributor Latoya Peterson
Robin Givhan, the fashion editor for The Washington Post, frequently peppers her columns and blogs with a unique perspective on how to interpret the passing fads of the fickle fashion industry. Last Friday’s column was no exception.
Titled “Rounding off Their Figures,” Givhan discusses the emergence of a new trend: fuller figured women gaining space on magazine covers and in product advertisements. This is especially interesting when juxtaposed with all the attention the fashion industry has received for creating and perpetuating unrealistic standards of thinness.
However, Givhan discovers one interesting thing that all of the fuller figured cover girls, models, and spokeswomen have in common. She writes:
The one thing that connects these three curvaceous women, other than their celebrity, is that they are women of color. On them, curves are acceptable.
While women such as actress Kate Winslet, who is white, have talked about not giving in to a Hollywood culture that demands they be super slim, it seems that only African American and Latina actresses really get away with extra pounds, or even just a round bottom. See: Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, “Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrera and “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez.
One could argue that these women, each one quite pretty, are not considered part of the mainstream — their ethnicity is still a regularly used modifier in their professional lives. They stand just a little apart, so they are exempt from adhering to mainstream definitions of beauty. They set their own standards. But being judged by a different set of rules can be both liberating and vexing.
Givhan continues in the article proposing that while all women fret about weight and diet issues, there is a smaller, more vocal contingent of women of color who are able to love and accept themselves even if their weight falls far outside of mainstream standards of beauty. These women have created an entire counterculture where big is beautiful, and have seen their efforts start edging into film and media. Givhan sees these changes as positive, but warns:
There is also the stereotype of the large black woman as the diva-like sexpot: strong, aggressive and entitled. See: the comedian Mo’Nique. There is always the looming danger of taking that caricature into destructive and demoralizing territory — black women as oversexed, or black women as impenetrable, or obesity as healthy. But that iconic image has established that big can be beautiful and desirable — at least when it comes to women of color.
She concludes the article by saying:
The larger culture has not bought into that opinion, but it seems to have been swayed. Roundness is more accepted of black women because they are more accepting of their own curves.
This article was not just provocative because of Givhan’s excellent analysis – more seemed to be revealed about our cultural attitudes about beauty and weight by examining what was not in the article, and the comments posted to the article by WashingtonPost.com readers. Read the Post Real women (of color) have curves
by Carmen Van Kerckhove The Erase Racism Carnival is a collection of blog posts dedicated…
by Carmen Van Kerckhove Ever since those photos came out of Tyra Banks looking not…