by Latoya Peterson Paging through the new issue of GQ, I happened to notice an…
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.
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.
by guest contributor dnA, originally published at Too Sense There’s a lot of hating going…
by Carmen Van Kerckhove The King Kong-esque imagery on the latest cover of Vogue is…
by guest contributor Jae Ran Kim, originally published at Harlow’s Monkey
I was dumbfounded to read Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt’s response on his NYT blog to a reader’s question about the economic ramifications of international adoption (thanks to durgamom on resist racism for bringing this to my attention). I’ve commented on Levitt before in this post.
Q: What is your opinion on how international adoption affects the economy, race and class divisions, and the widening income gap within the U.S.? What do you think of the argument that children are “readily available for adoption” in the U.S., and, further, that adoption is marketed as a product with benefits?
A: I don’t think international adoption affects the economy in any meaningful way. We are talking about very small numbers of children being adopted from foreign countries into the U.S. each year – perhaps 20,000 children total, compared to the 3 million children born each year in the U.S. Adoption does, however, profoundly affect those families that adopt. My life has been completely changed because of the two daughters my wife and I adopted from China.
You’re right that some people in the U.S. really don’t like foreign adoption. Some have argued that it is a form of subtle racism, in that parents like me will go to China to adopt, but won’t adopt a black child here in the U.S. This is a complex issue – far too complex for me to discuss in all its richness here. But let me at least explain some of the thinking underlying my own decision to adopt from abroad. The first factor was that our son, Andrew, had just died. We were not emotionally prepared to navigate the U.S. adoption scene, which is full of uncertainty for adoptive parents for two reasons: 1) the relative scarcity of healthy but unwanted babies being put up for adoption since the legalization of abortion; and 2) the emphasis on birth parent rights.
We did give some serious thought to adopting either a black child domestically, or adopting from Africa. It turns out that African adoption is extremely complicated, as Madonna discovered the hard way. Ultimately, my own view was that the identity issues faced by a black child raised by white parents would be too difficult. Some of my academic research with Roland Fryer has made clear to me the stark choices that black teens, especially boys, have to make about “who they are.” As a parent, I was not willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child, only to know that when he became a teenager he would have to face the choice of being “black” or “white,” and that either choice would be very costly for him (and also for me). That same sort of racial “all or nothing” choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.
First of all, Levitt doesn’t really respond to the majority of the reader’s question. He only tackles the economy part in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. Using the average fees for the most well known and respected adoption agency in my state, if adoptive parents paid an average of, say, $20,000 – $25,000 a child then those 20,000+ children adopted from other countries last year add up to $400,000,000 – $500,000,000. We know that not all of this money stays in the United States economy. So, granted, Levitt is correct that this sum is pretty insignificant in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. If you calculate the 108,006 children adopted internationally from 2002 – 2006 at an average of $20,000 per child, that pumps in $1,080,060,000 that pays for adoption workers and adoption agencies. However, Levitt doesn’t mention that the overall “adoption industry” expands way beyond the singular item of agency fees. There are all the post-adoption services provided by agencies, books, those damn t-shirts, culture camps, therapy, trainings, etc. Considering that in 2000, the adoption industry generated 1.5 billion dollars* and prices have only risen exponentially, I argue that Levitt is minimizing the economic impact because, like many of us, it appears unseemly to talk about children in terms of a financial spreadsheet.
Levitt’s response to the next part of the reader’s question really begins to veer away into his own personal rationalizations. Read the Post Freaking out over Freakonomics
by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson
Billing itself as the complete Asian-American lifestyle magazine, East West runs the gamut from business advice to romance. East West (formerly East West Woman) is also the only magazine that regularly features Desi contributors as well as Desi cover girls.
In terms of articles, East West has a wide range of fare to satisfy all sorts of palates. From global news coverage to an in-depth analysis Asian-American roles on televisions to a Sake 101 primer and tips for bargaining at Asian markets, this publication aims to keeps its readers informed and connected to both of their cultures.
East West also features first person perspectives, like “Growing Up ABCD” by Farah Z. Khalid. In the article, Khalid explains the concept of being an American Born Confused Desi and pulls us into her childhood with tales of trading soccer for Islamic school and annual pilgrimages back to visit relatives, laden with gifts.
The fashion spreads are also cute and wearable, but East West feels like it skews a bit older, made for the professionally settled woman in her thirties to forties. While there is plenty of content for younger readers, East West occupies the same sphere as Essence – a publication designed to reach their demographic in all walks of life. It is a great challenge, but the East West editors handle it well.
“A Bicultural Asian-American Magazine.”
I must admit it was the tagline that caught my eye on the newsstand, even while accompanied by a very striking cover image.
Thirteen Minutes distinguishes itself with truly gorgeous and distinctive fashion, buoyed by excellent photography. The spreads are so engaging, I literally caught my breath a few times just looking at striking images that leaped off the page demanding my attention. The magazine manages to walk the line between high fashion and wearable with aplomb. I used some of my purloined Yes/No/Maybe stickers from a Lucky Magazine to mark up the pages – and it is one of the few times where a fashion magazine has inspired me enough to track down a designer and pay for an item displayed in spread, rather than using the spread as inspiration for my own budget conscious finds.
The articles are also useful, if a little boring. All the standard women’s interest fare is in here, with a distinctly Asian twist: “How to Lose 10 Pounds by Lunar New Year,” “Finding Your Inner Feng Shui,” and “This Isn’t Your Mother’s Plastic Surgery.” There are also excellent articles on Asians and Asian Americans in the media, featuring everyone from Anna May Wong to Alex Thuy. Thirteen Minutes even manages to cover international pop stars and local acts. It’s a music lover’s dream. Read the Post Asian American Mags Gain Ground: Thirteen Minutes, Audrey, and East West
by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson
I’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop.
Last August, a former Glamour editor found herself in a hailstorm of controversy after she gave a speech to a law firm where she indicated that an afro was not an office appropriate hairstyle. Jezebel had the scoop:
[A] recent slide show by an unidentified Glamour editor on the “Dos and Don’ts of Corporate Fashion” at a New York law firm shed some light on the topic, according to this month’s American Lawyer magazine.
First slide up: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the ‘Glamour’ editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was ‘shocking’ that some people still think it ‘appropriate’ to wear those hairstyles at the office. ‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go.
In November of that year, Glamour tried to make amends to its readership by hosting a panel to discuss Women, Race, and Beauty. The March Issue of Glamour contains the transcript from the panel as well as some extra information about the panelists and some sidebars.
Reading the finished product, I notice I am left feeling unsatisfied. It’s kind of like when I saw The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift soundtrack advertised. DJ Shadow, Mos Def, Verbal from M-Flo, Dragon Ash, The Far*East Movement, and N.E.R.D. were all featured but after I previewed the tracks, I ended up leaving the CD in the store. How did something so right go so wrong?
I got the same feeling from this Glamour article. All the all stars are here: Farai Chideya (NPR, News & Notes), Vanessa Bush (Essence), Jami Floyd (TV Anchor), Daisy Hernandez (Colorlines), Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter Hair Products), Venus Opal Reese (PH.D, University of Texas), Mally Roncal (Celebrity Make Up Artist/make up creator), and Barbara Trepagnier (Professor of Sociology). And yet…