The ways in which black women and their bodies are discussed in mainstream, predominantly white media matters. “Vogue” isn’t the only publication to frame conversation like this poorly. Just this month, The New York Times published a piece on “natural hair” titled, “Curls Get Their Groove Back.” It’s a multi-paragraph missive about the “new” trend of white women eschewing hair-straightening and “cultural bias” against white women with curly hair. One line is given to the discussion of black hair.
Back in April, Carimah Townes argued along similar lines:
In an article comically entitled “Rear Admirable,” Vanity Fair showcases social media sensation Jen Selter, who skyrocketed to fame after posting photos of her butt on Instagram. The pictures used in the spread include a backside shot of Selter in a black corset, and another of the model in 1940s-inspired, fishnet lingerie. The accompanying text describes Selter as a “member of a rapidly rising subset of Instagram stars: young women unfraid to share their deeply bronzed, sculpted figures.”
The takeaway message is that showing off curves in a public way is not only a new phenomenon, but looking darker, “or bronzed,” is the new way to be beautiful. It’s a breath of fresh air to see curves and darker skin tones applauded by a world-renowned publication, but disappointing that Vanity Fair used a white Jewish woman to convey a newly-accepted norm.