Tag Archives: beauty

Link Love – Women of Color and Beauty Carnival

by Latoya Peterson

This is what I have been waiting for.

The Women of Color and Beauty Carnival.

And, of course, it does not disappoint.


Black Amazon – I Ain’t Pretty

You see when we talk about pretty , I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing, not to mention to cling to pretty even in CHALLENGING the concept ( I WILL REJECT ALL THINGS THAT I SEE AS PRETTY CAUSE EVERYTHING MEANS THE SAME TO EVERYONE) makes me nauseaus.

You see in my life as WOC , pretty has had fuck all to do with attractiveness, vibrancy, or sexuality , it has had everything with a validation.

A validation that includes protection, ownership, and often the use of these things to pit women agianst each other, sometimes by patriarchial interests, OFTEN by racist thematics, and sometimes love itself.

Personally, I am beautiful. It is strange to say because dear god it sounds conceited and I am trying my darndest not to post any pictures , but even in the glaringly Eurocentric run studies about symmetry and youthfulness and clearness of skin and bountifulness of hair ETc.ETC.

I am doing okay.

I am not however in any way European featured , not in the slightest not by a long shot. My look comes with the music of steel pans and African drums some sitars and strings with a light note of pipes . My walk is all drums all the time.

I am always black.

And I am not pretty .

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Vogue Asks “Is Fashion Racist?”

by Guest Contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

“Are we still talking about this in 2008?” asks Iman in an irate voice kicking off the “Is Fashion Racist?” article in the July issue of Vogue. I’ve certainly pondered that question myself over the past few years and I am sure that many other fashion enthusiasts have as well.

Really, why is it that an industry such as this one known for embracing a variety of outlandish personalities and ideas is so blind when it comes to putting new faces in its clothes, on its runways or in its magazines? For example, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen designer Philip Lim glorified on the pages of fashion tomes but I struggle to remember when I last saw and Asian model featured in a multi-page editorial. In spite of the fact that Pat McGrath, Andre Leon Talley, photographer Mark Baptist and designers like Tracey Reese are influential enough to sit at the proverbial table, that diversity hasn’t tricked down to model employment office. This seems to suggest that people of other races are welcome to provide the glitz for a shoot but must never be the one to wear the accessories.

I think about this topic often and it’s become the main focus of my blog because it wasn’t like this when I was growing up and first became enamored with fashion. I still remember the day my English teacher brought in a stack of old ELLE magazines to give away and I got my first taste of it. I spent hours pouring over those images back then. It was superficial and I knew but I didn’t care. It still meant something to me. Seeing the Beverly Peele on the cover of Seventeen when I was in high school back then made me feel good. It made me feel included in that fabulous something even though my bi-level two toned jheri curl was decidedly not happening. Side note: I still haven’t forgiven my mother for making get a jheri curl. I honestly think of it as child abuse.

My fashion jones followed me to college where I always had the latest pictures of Naomi Campbell tacked to my mirror for fierce make up inspiration. But then it seemed, things started to reverse themselves. Instead of marching forward and including larger cross section of ethnicities, fashion started marching backwards. The change was slow but deliberate. Black models became less visible as lighter skinned, more racially ambiguous Brazilian beauties hit the scene. They started dropping off too, save Gisele, in favor of Eastern European models, each new batch even more nondescript than the previous seasons.

Nowadays, when I talk about how it used to be I feel like an old woman rocking on my porch talking about the good ole’ days when they let us colored folk take pretty pictures. Continue reading

Look Who’s Been Vixenified This Time

by Guest Contributor Kali921, originally published at Possibly Irrelevant Information

Marvel has apparently decided to engage in a game of one-upsmanship with DC to see who can take a character of color, specifically black characters, and draw them as white people. In other words, subtextual racist bingo.

I was looking at the new covers solicited for all the endless Secret Invasion tie ins, and something LEAPED out at me right away.

What’s wrong with this picture?

That, my friends, is the cover to the Secret Invasion issue of The Initiative. That’s supposed to be Ryder in front there, standing with the chain gun. Ryder from the Skrull Kill Krew, of course.

Ryder who normally looks like this:

When Skrull Kill Krew was first published, Ryder had outrageously long and wild hair; it always looked to me like he had long dreads, and they looked fantastic.

Compare that to The Initiative cover. Continue reading

Model Minority: How Women’s Magazines Whitewash Different Ethnicities

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

Associate Editor Alex Alvarez, befuddled to find that her boobs and hips, or lack thereof, seem to fall in and out fashion like leggings and stirrup pants and poppers, takes a look at the American women’s magazine industry in an attempt to decipher just how, exactly, they can get away with telling women their bodies are ok – if only they’d look more like white girls. (Take The Quiz On Page 62!)

My name is Alex Alvarez. And I hate women’s magazines.

Don’t get me wrong: I like fashion and I’ve worked at several magazines over the past couple of years. I can talk about Courrèges and Two Girls, One Cup in the same breath. But so many women’s magazines, both “fashion” mags like Glamour and Vogue and “sexy” mags like Cosmo and Horse & Hound do women so much more harm than good.

Women’s magazines have long been accused of creating a standard of beauty that will forever be just out of the grasp of most women – prompting them, of course, to wait until next month’s issue for more advice on how to be perfect. (Hint! Transplant your face with this other face.) Selling women this promise not only keeps magazines on newsstands and subscriptions in the mail, it also helps appease the real driving force behind all magazines — advertisers and Satan. And what women end up purchasing is cosmetic “whiteness.” You know you’ve made it, baby, when you wake up looking like you faceplanted on Plymouth Rock.

In this feature, I’ll take a look at women from four, over-simplified ethnic or racial backgrounds and see just how, exactly, magazines are fucking them all up. Then, after a few dozen sex quizzes and several minutes of trying to figure out how you can both “Love Your Body!” and orient yourself on the latest “Plastic Surgery Tips Every Woman Should Know!” without wanting to gag yourself on an exclamation point, I’ll give the magazine industry a few tips on how to talk to women.

Latina

Brief Overview: Latinas are portrayed as being sultry and seductive. They can get away with playing the “bad girl,” possibly because they are allowed – and even encouraged – to have more overtly sexual bodies, with an emphasis on curves, dark eyes and bright, plump, shiny, slick, wet lips shown in loving close-ups, usually while the face to which they’re attached is growling or purring or doing something else that’s totally fierce. They also give better head. Oh. There goes my attempt at subtlety.

The ideal: Jennifer Lopez

Hair: Often enough, Latinas have “big hair” with lots of volume, possibly as a middle ground among the various hair textures found among Latinas of different races.

Skin: Latinas are often depicted as having an olive complexion, with lighter or darker generally ignored or unmentioned by mainstream media.

Ass: Big, round. Makes a “ka-ching ka-ching” sound when bouncing in time to a song about cars and beach houses.

Breasts: While Latinas are generally depicted with large backsides, breast size is allowed to vary. As long as they’re big.

How magazines fucked up: “Latina” is not a race. It’s a diverse group made of many racial, ethnic and religious groups. Some who don’t even look like J-Lo. Additionally, women can’t have it both ways. While Latinas have been “en vogue” for a period of time, certain celebrated icons of “Latina beauty,” such as Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek, have whittled down their once-celebrated curvy figures as the years have gone by. Wait until Jennifer loses all that baby weight. She’ll look so much better without Marc.

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Brown Eyes

by Guest Contributor Tara, originally posted at Bias Cut

I used to work for an optometrist, and when I did, we used to sell a lot of colored contact lenses. Though the lenses came in many different colors, no one ever picked brown. Hazel and Honey were popular choices for people with very dark eyes, but I can’t recall anyone ever choosing brown. I don’t even think we stocked that color.

In communities of color, internalized racism often causes us to rank our features as good or bad, pretty or ugly by how closely they resemble whiteness. In this paradigm, straight hair beats curly, light skin beats darker, eyelids without folds in them become coveted and worth surgery to “correct.” Of course, there are many who reject this criterion and create their own standards of beauty, but it’s also hard to escape constant and ceaseless messages about what is desirable and what isn’t. Continue reading

Will There Ever Be an African Vogue?

by guest contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

Do you remember when Vogue India hit the stands and Australian model Gemma Ward was front and center flanked by two presumably Indian models in what I like to call “the coveted Beyonce spot?” All I could do was laugh at how predictable that move was on the editors part.

In the months since that launch last year, Vogue India has featured a dazzling array of Bollywood actresses and models on the cover. It’s as if to say, “yeah, we thought the cover on that premiere issue was lame too but we fully intend to make up for it!”

Anytime I think about that launch I wonder if an African country will ever get its own Vogue. Maybe a Vogue Nigeria or a South African Vogue.

I’ve debated back and forth on message boards about who would be chosen for the imaginary inagural cover. Legendary Iman? Alek Wek? Liya? Oluchi? Gemma in a safari hat?

I read an article in The Times last week about Oluchi in which she was quoted as saying that top magazines in South Africa (like Glamour and GQ) refuse to put blacks on their covers. This in a country that is 79% black.

She said:

“As a Nigerian and an African I have done so much in my career to represent everything African in Western countries. There is a diverse group of people in South Africa, be it black, white, Asian. …If you pick up Vogue India everything about it, from the first page to the last, is very Indian…I would like to see that in South Africa. They [magazines] need to embrace diversity and show more love …It doesn’t give me joy to pick up a copy of South African GQ and feel like I’m reading American GQ.”

Damn.

This saddens me. I recall seeing the cover of South African ELLE once with a dark skinned woman on the cover and for months I tried to find an issue at various newsstands only to come up empty. I was dying to know if the cover I saw was an anomoly. So far, I’m not willing to pony up the $90 or so for a subscription to find out.

Back to my magazine fantasy…I picture two covers. The first one featuring a mix of models from all over the continent with Iman or Liya Kebede, Alek Wek or Ajuma to show the very different types of African beauty. My second thought has editors mixing it up a bit more with the likes of a Jourdan Dunn, Emanuela dePaula, Chanel Iman, Chrystelle Saint-Louis Augustin, or Damaris Lewis to illustrate how there isn’t a corner of the world that hasn’t been touched by this so called dark continent’s beauty and influence.

Seriously, I could ponder this for hours. I am so much more satisfied by made up magazines than by their real conterparts. Maybe there’s an editor out there dreaming of this launch too, and of Gemma Ward posing on an elephant for the cover.

Pampered Guilt: With Spa Treatments, Is There More Than What Meets the Eye?

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

On Tuesday, I walked half a block from my office to get a manicure/pedicure. I had a gift certificate that I figured that I’d put to good use, especially considering that my nails were chewed down from a combination of stress resulting from the month-end close and my anticipation regarding delegate count announcements on CNN. That and my cuticles looked more like razed cornfields than supportive flesh thanks to my having recently moved to a new apartment. I was a hot mess, and I needed help instantly.

When I arrived at the spa, I thanked my lucky stars for the opportunity to have some time away from my corporate sweatshop, but felt that I might have stepped into another one—though this time, the roles were reversed. I was in charge. In some weird S&M-like twist of fate, the spa had transported me into another world, where dozens of women were present to meet my every need if I just asked, even if they could barely understand a word I said. My vocabulary for the hour was restricted solely to beautification terms, and little else could be said without getting lost in translation. My spa break had given me yet another reason to bite my nails.

On the one hand, I love being pampered, but on the other, I’m the type who would be likely to clean my house from top to bottom before the maid came, if you know what I mean. I say only possess what you could properly take care of on your own. It’s a personal philosophy I try to live by—one that inevitably haunts me whenever I walk into a spa. A terrible disease I have called OverThink takes over, making it hard for me to enjoy myself at time because I am constantly thinking that I should have run the blade a little closer to the skin on my left leg as to not annoy the masseuse or that I should have scrubbed my right heel a little harder in the shower this morning so that the pedicurist wouldn’t end up with huge biceps on account of all the elbow grease she had to apply to my feet.

But when I returned to work that day, with Essie-adorned fingers and toes, I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Other co-workers expressed feeling a similar anxiety when going for spa treatments, and just like me, the pedicure was sometimes the hardest part to endure. There was just something odd about having a woman nearly beneath you in a hunched position treating your toes as if they were solid gold, staring at you in feigned adoration as you massaged lotion in your calves, your conversations limited to “hard?” or “soft?” and “same color for your manicure?” At the epicenter of comfort, something placed us in a state of unease. Though being pleased, we felt a discomfort based on class, race, age, and/or language barriers, when applicable, that placed us in a position of power we hadn’t earned. Though in our discussions, my workmates and I agreed that it was the physical positioning of a pedicure that bothered us, we knew it went deeper than that, we just weren’t sure exactly how to say it.

The author of the blog That Black Girl attempted to explain how she felt in April of 2007 in an entry simpled entitled “Service“:

i know this sounds weird, but something just doesn’t sit well with me having someone black give me a pedicure. as far as portland goes, i haven’t seen any other pedicure salons with black people actually doing the pedicures . it would just make me feel weird and i’m not sure exactly why. something about it seeming like servant type work makes it seem awkward for someone black to be serving me like that. like i’m being a house negro or something . . . i wonder if anyone else feels this way or if i’m just cookoo.

In several of the comments, readers complained that the author was being overly analytical about the situation or that she was too focused on race, but in my response, I attempted to expand the author’s thoughts by incorporating history: Continue reading

Chanel Surfing: Quick Takes on TV

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Cashmere Mafia (ABC)

Some quick thoughts:

*Caitlin’s African-American assistant is sporting a clean new shape up in episode three. What happened to the dreds?

*Alicia has been described as the “hot cocoa love interest,” oy! Still waiting to see if Alicia makes it through the season.

*Still no Jack Yang. What are they waiting for? Oh, whew – just checked the “fan” site – looks like he’ll make an appearance on Wednesday.

*Can I just say boo to Mia’s “let’s talk about this” editor’s letter? Your ex went for blood by scheduling the evil man-eating woman cover – why the hell didn’t you bring it in the note from the publisher?

*Lipstick Jungle advertisements! Competition is coming!

*Oh no, spoiler “fan” site also says that Caitlin finds herself attracted to a man she meets at the lesbian baby shower. Is this the end for Alicia?

How to Look Good Naked (Lifetime)

I. Don’t. Do. Lifetime.

I can’t stand that channel.

But somehow, someway, I managed to watch one episode of Carson Kressley’s How to Look Good Naked and became instantly hooked. The show is just excellent. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Queer Eye, Carson manages to sculpt and shape a show that encourages women to see their bodies for what they are – not what society says they should be.

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