Monday, March 3, 2008

Glamour's mea culpa

Remember last year when Glamour editor, Ashley Baker, told a room full of female attorneys from Cleary Gottlieb that natural black hair was a definite don't.

American Lawyer reported on the incident in its August issue:

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.
Glamour was flooded with angry e-mails from sisters who are a-okay with their natural tresses, and mocked on sites like Jezebel where female readers were appalled (but maybe not surprised) that a women's magazine would castigate women for finding beauty in their natural selves.

Glamour axed the editor and promised to hold a roundtable to discuss the incendiary issue of black women and hair. As a happy nappy I've been waiting with baited breath to read the result of the magazine's great kinky hair summit. Well, my wait is over. The latest issue of Glamour includes the hair discussion led by NPR's Farai Chideya. Read it here.

My verdict? Meh. I don't know what I expected from a beauty magazine, but I found the discussion less than substantive. What I really want, and what women of all races need, is an end to the narrow definitions of beauty that magazines like Glamour promote. In addition to the traditional models of silky-haired European ancestry, I need to see models with cinnamon-brown skin and closely-cropped naps. When the magazine publishes an article about the latest lipsticks for summer, include shades that work on skin that is darker than olive. I don't need "a very special episode" of Glamour to appease me. It's going to take more than that to convince me that this magazine, along with others, don't embrace and reinforce a hierarchy of beauty that places women like me at the bottom.


Latoya Peterson said...

Tami -

You have got to stop reading my mind. This is the third post I've planned or published that you beat me to by a day or so!

LOL, you can read my take tomorrow at noon...

Shelly said...

Hi Tami,

Great post. This is exactly why I NEVER read or even look at these so-called womens magazines. They are full of unhealthy conditioning, propoganda and fuel for self-loathing. I strive to shield myself from the mythological and damaging standards espoused by these sorts of publications and in doing so I have to work hard to determine my OWN sense of beauty and self-appreciation!


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