Saturday, May 15, 2010

expect black female models to look like "white girls dipped in chocolate"

This guest post (which also appears here) is by Renee, who blogs at Womanist Musings.

The following documentary looks at the struggles of Renée Thompson, a beautiful Black model attempting to gain a spot in New York Fashion Week. Despite the fact that she is clearly beautiful, the racism in the fashion industry has been insurmountable.

Justin Perry, Renée’s agent makes it clear why he believes Renée has a chance to succeed when he says:

The girls that are really just being featured in everything, they really have unique features for African Americans. You know the very skinny nose the very elegant face. They really look like White girls that were painted Black. That’s beauty you know to the industry's perspective, to agent's perspective. When they see that, when they see a girl that can look different by skin pigment and still have great features like that, it is sellable.

What the agents and designers seem to dance around throughout this short documentary is that they are actively practicing racism.

Jeanne Beker the host of “Fashion Television” had this to say:

There still seems to be this crazy kind of racism, I hate to call it that. A kind of consciousness in the fashion world, that sometimes you do see, you know, a Black girl on the runway, it’s almost out of a tokenism. Everyone’s pointing fingers. Some people might say that it’s the agents that are to blame, they’re not scouting these girls, they’re not encouraging them, they’re not signing them. Maybe it’s the designers right off the bat; designers should insist that "this is my aesthetic." Like for ad campaigns, hire girls that can just bring a little more diversity to the table.

While she may hate to call it racism, that is exactly what it is. When agents and designers are actively saying that they “need a Black model, but she has to be a White girl dipped in chocolate,” it speaks to a specific rejection of all things Black. African American features are not seen as attractive and Perry, Renee’s agent confirms this:

You know when you come in with big eyes, big nose, big whatever, big lips, things that are common traits in African-Americans, it doesn’t work. But for those lucky few girls that look like Renee, they have White girl features, and it’s kind of messed up, but that is just the way that the industry is.

It is only like this because Whiteness is in control of the fashion industry and there is a refusal to admit that they are using their power to promote a White aesthetic. While they may claim not to be racist themselves, their actions serve to further White supremacy. It it any wonder that at a young age Black children learn to overvalue Whiteness?

The Black woman has long been seen as the ultimate un-woman and despite the supposed advances, race and gender continue to leave Black women at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Fashion is but one manifestation of the ways in which we continue to be “othered”. Black women are called angry when they rightfully lash out against blatant racism, because we are expected to accept our second-class status without complaint. That it is exhausting to constantly wage a battle to be recognized as human and therefore valuable, is not considered. We are constantly told that our tone is why Whiteness does not listen; however, Black women are well aware that White supremacy is dedicated to maintaining the race and gender divisions, because it serves to cement power.

Renée Thompson knows very well what she is up against:

It does get very discouraging. It gets to a point where you feel like you are constantly justifying your worth and what you can contribute to the business. You can only take so much beating up everyday and constant rejection, or that fear every time you walk through that casting door that you are going to be reminded that once again you’re a Black girl. Quitting to me seems like you’re giving in to that racist facade or that you’re giving into saying that, that’s okay that you think that. It’s not okay. It’s not okay that you think that I am different or lesser than. It’s not, so I’m going to stay right here and be a sore in your eye until you recognize what I am good for.

In the U.S there is a backlash because of a fear of a loss of White privilege, and yet in every avenue Black women have not approached anything resembling equality. We earn less, we die earlier and we raise our children largely in poverty. In the media we are portrayed as licentious whores, crack addicts, desperate, or angry, and yet we struggle on in the face of a determined effort to ensure that we remain voiceless and invisible.

It is not surprising when we learn at the end of the film that Renée has failed in her effort to get a job for Fashion Week. Dallas J. Logan, a fashion photographer points out, “Nobody wants to invest money in a Black model to do Gucci, Prada and Valentino, because they’re Black and Black doesn’t sell. Point blank, money is green and White people have the money and they are going to buy from White people”.

Until the day in which equality becomes more than some pseudo liberal buzz word, and an actual concept that society embraces, Black women will continue to struggle. There is nothing post racial about the world in which we live. Whiteness may have changed the language of oppression, so as to appear covert, but it still exists to ensure that Blackness is understood to be inferior. Due to a combination of sexism and racism, Black women continue bear the brunt of the brutality of White supremacy.


  1. Great post Renee, thank you.

    I think this idea that most white people tend to have that racism only exists anymore in dark little corners somewhere -- like, white trash basements and garages, or something -- makes it really hard for most white people to see, and name, their own racism. Even when it's really, really blatant.

  2. Actually, I had noticed this, but not so explicitly. Thank you for helping me define exactly what it is that I've been seeing, in commercials, in magazines, everywhere.

  3. Thank you, Renee, for your post.

    The Black woman has long been seen as the ultimate un-woman

    OT - this is part of what I think is driving the current media focus on unmarried black women. The stories are always framed in ways that fault black women for being single -pathologizing us yet again- while conveniently reinforcing the idea that we're undesirable.

    Back on topic - the black-girl-with-white-features theme is nothing new. I have an aunt who was "discovered" by Ford modeling agency back when its then-owner, Eileen Ford, was saying "African" features = simian and so she didn't accept black women with such features because it would be unfair to promote a stereotype. The foregoing is a paraphrased quote from the LA Times. There's no way they would have approached my aunt but for her "elegant" features. And even when you meet such suspect requirements, there's no guarantee you'll work.

    It's just an excuse to be racist - much like "black doesn't sell." First of all, the late Yves St. Laurent didn't have a problem featuring black models with "African" features. His clothes sold and he is still venerated as one of the fashion greats. Second of all, if black women are so off-putting, those 7th Avenue designers should have stopped whining about First Lady Obama not wearing their designs and how she need to in order to boost their flagging sales. As for editorial, how many O magazine subscribers, who I suspect hail from the higher SES demographic, are put off by dark-skinned, "inelegant"-featured, black-girl-dipped-in-chocolate Oprah Winfrey, who's on the cover every month? Her magazine sells, and she consistently has plus-sized models, older models and models of color. So fashion is supposed to be aspirational and modeled by people the average consumer can never look like - but they're also supposed to look like the consumer? which is it?

  4. Oddly enough more and more Black Men are on the runway! I guess it is the Mandingo syndrome..

  5. This is a beyond excellent post, Renee - thank you. Other thank "co-sign" I have nothing else to add.

    You've earned an Ankhesenology moment.

  6. I generally say fuck the fashion industry in general. It's bad for all women and really really really bad for a lot of women (non-white, non-skinny, differently abled, etc)

  7. Great post. And imagine, if a talented and beautiful model like Renee eventually gets a job through her own sheer determination and hard work, it will be attributed to tokenism. "She's only here because she's black." How ironic.

    Seems like this is closely related to a thread a few posts back in which commenters were discussing the fetishization of people of mixed race -particularly those with white ancestry. Seems like there's this pervasive idea among white people that our genes cancel out some of the "undesirable" traits of PoC. The really horrible thing is that most of us don't realize how racist this kind of thinking is. Instead, we pat ourselves on the back for being so open-minded as to praise a nonwhite person.

  8. This is just typical model-industry for you and interesting how the press keeps showing Naomi up to be the ultimate "bitch". When have they ever done that with a white model. By the way, if she is angry...can you blame her - she has had a rough ride being one of the few black supermodels to be hailed.

    I can say that I am bored sick with all the whiteness in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and the lot. Always loooking for where I can get a load of some beautiful black models and enjoy the beauty that society seems so adamant to shun.

  9. D W JazzLover said,
    >> "Oddly enough more and more Black Men are on the runway! I guess it is the Mandingo syndrome.. "

    Some of that, but I also think some of it is a willingness to recognize that Black men have economic appeal while actively denying that WOC, especially Black women, do. From the OP: "White people have the money and they are going to buy from White people"...except, using the narrow examples of Nike and hip-hop, White Industry is willing to acknowledge that WP will buy from Black men. (Yes, there are female rappers and hip-hop stars, but the white idea of "hip-hop culture" is very male).

    Now, it's obvious to any lay person with a brain that White people will buy on the recommendation of WOC: dude, Oprah's book club. Which means that this is a lousy, racist excuse, and is likely an attempt to cover up an even deeper racist motive. I would suggest that it's about preventing WOC from gaining this particular pathway to economic and social power. Thoughts, y'all?

  10. When agents and designers are actively saying that they “need a Black model, but she has to be a White girl dipped in chocolate,” it speaks to a specific rejection of all things Black.

    It seems like this would also allow designers to weasel out of the discussion with a statement such as "Oh, I'm color bind, I don't see color, I just see these facial features we're looking for." (which is obviously a crock if the facial features have a much higher prevalence in one race) We talk a lot about derailing as a tactic in discussions of racism, but I wasn't quite aware of the degree to which the same tactics play a role everyday life, and I can't begin to imagine how frustrating (infuriating?) that must be.

    One thing that struck me (and please tell me if this is way off base or not) is when the casting director (Maurilio) used "Amazon" to describe her body. Was that a genuine complement or was it exoticization? It seems like it could go either way, but as a guy (and thus not in a great position to judge) it felt slightly like the latter.

    He also said "Sometimes, even though the face is amazing, they tend to have a fit problem". In skimming over Peggy McIntosh's white privilege list, I didn't see an item about finding clothing that fits. Maybe "I can go into a clothing store and find designer clothing designed with my body type in mind" should be added to the list. (Though I realize that may be a bit of a stretch, what with the fashion industry's focus on a very specific White body type)

  11. This is a great post. Two things come to mind for me. I'll apologize in advance for being incoherent (and wordy)!

    1. I wish people, like Thompson's agent, would stop trying to strip others of their Blackness. She may have those prized "elegant" features, but Renee's not White and she doesn't look White or like a White woman dipped in chocolate (neither do Iman or Liya Kebede, for that matter). His racist statements are founded on this notion that all Black people look alike. Any deviation from his imagined stereotype, especially in a "positive" direction, and you're like a White person. It's completely ridiculous.

    I'm not at all trying to deny that the industry prefers a certain type of Black woman. I'm just saying that these people use White and beautiful like they're interchangeable (when a lot of these prized "elegant" features are just as Black/Latina/Asian/Native American as they are White). You can't confer your Whiteness onto somebody else just because you decide they're pretty enough. Or thin enough. This belief that Black women are too thick/hippy to be models, while White women are all perfectly proportioned size 4s is another post in and of itself.

    2. On Racialicious and similar blogs, I've seen some Black people comment that, "obvious" racists aside, colorism doesn't affect the way White people view Black beauty*. They believe that White people don't differentiate between "light-skinned" and "dark-skinned" like Black people do, that they love women who look like Alek Wek while we don't, that they appreciate our natural hair more than we do, etc.

    I've always felt this to be fundamentally false, and I wonder now if it's because I've always been interested in fashion/beauty and, therefore, seen how it all plays out. When beautiful women of color are constantly assumed to be mixed/part-White, then something's amiss.

    * Interestingly enough, I don't know anyone in real life who's ever made these statements or believes this to be true.

  12. @ TAB

    Yes, I have noticed the mainstream media obsessive focus on the single and unmarried black woman who can't seem to find and keep a decent black man. And in these documentaries, it is somehow the black woman's fault for displaying lack of affection, being angry, etc. Therefore the black man must go elsewhere - usually outside of his race - to find a woman who will love him "properly." It's disgusting to me. It's even more disturbing to find some of my friends who buy into the mainstream media's perception of black relationships or lack thereof. They say I am simply engaging in conspiracy theory, but it's strange how these mind games are being played right before the public's eyes. And yet, some people's brains are turned off from such stupidity and inaccuracy shown on television. Sighs.

  13. Renee is stunning, no question about it. She's beautiful because she's black with features that come with it, not because she has 'white girl' features, how insulting! Since when do whites corner the beauty market? In a white Supremacist world they do! A world that blatantly shows it's fear of levelling the playing field for all types of beauty. What is the white world so afraid of? I don't get it. To shut the door on Renee because she's black and book imperfect models whose whiteness gets them through the door beggars belief!!
    I don't believe the whites want to buy from whites tripe, that's being rabidly racist as all get out!
    Keep at it Renee, you're tops in my books!

  14. The features of a black woman is only loved when it's on a non-black woman. For instance, Angelina Jolie and her lips. Big deal.

    I don't pay attention to the fashion industry as they are clueless. They hack clothes that are overpriced and ugly for the large part. No one outside of their cliques actually wears them.

    I'm a beautiful black girl dipped in honey. Why in pure, uninspiring hell would I want to be a white girl dipped in chocolate when the white girls want my natural features?

  15. @Ashley, @MerriMay,

    Exactly. The underlying assumption is that undiluted "black" = ugly, so therefore a beautiful black woman must be mixed (I remember Abagond posted a photo on his blog of a beautiful Nigerian woman and he said some people insisted she had to be mixed b/c she was attractive. Wish I could find the post it was in). That's part of why it's annoying to hear Americans insist that East Africans must be mixed. White people are not the sole, bona fide possessors of certain features. More importantly, who says only those features are attractive? Kiara Kabukuru, Atong Arjok, Gabrielle Union, Garcelle Beauvais, are drop-dead gorgeous.


    I'll conspiracy theory right along with you. Isn't it interesting that these stories are popping up when we have our first black First Lady? And is it mere coincidence that these stories always involve college-educated, professionally-accomplished black women? According to this article, black women with college degrees are more likely to have married by age 40 than those with high school degrees; for white women it's the reverse. Marriage rates have been declining in general in the US - why the exclusive focus? These alarmist stories are telling on a number of levels.

  16. @ashley

    "On Racialicious and similar blogs, I've seen some Black people comment that, "obvious" racists aside, colorism doesn't affect the way White people view Black beauty. They believe that White people don't differentiate between "light-skinned" and "dark-skinned" like Black people do, that they love women who look like Alek Wek while we don't, that they appreciate our natural hair more than we do, etc.

    I've always felt this to be fundamentally false ..."

    Depends on the WP. I think by the time you get to a relationship with a BP where you are discussing who you are attracted to you may be fairly close to them. To get that close you may likely be someone who doesn't base beauty on the depth of brown of someone's skin. In contrast if you are a WP you will have a very different sample of WP (not to say you).

    Also thanks for introducing me to Alek Wek. Very lovely lady.

  17. What’s so schizophrenic about this trend is that were the traits reversed- that is...put big lips on a white woman (Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Melanie Griffith) and you now have an exotic beauty as timeless as the heavens. Imagine a big butt on a white woman and you have Kim Kardashian, or at the very least J-Lo. Moreover, let us not forget Bo Derek and her braids , and how it seemed every white woman in this country tried their best to emulate her (as if cornrows were something new) never mind the fact black women have been wearing braids since the beginning of time.

    The flack over the first lady’s butt comes to mind as well. White pundits disparaged her looks- equating her big lips and backside with the primal, indicating to them that she was somehow less qualified, or less intelligent. I’m amazed how the white media lauds her more for her “fashion sense” rather than her intelligence/patriotism. God forbid she should be beautiful- smart and black. Some however, view her makeover as an attempt to tone down her cultural aesthetics in an effort to be more palatable to whites; yet this very attribute is celebrated when its attached to the back of a white woman.

    The mainstream’s focus is on white women period, you couldn’t have “missing white woman syndrome” if this were not the case. The bombshell- the bimbo, the vixen or vamp- the girl next door; all manifestations of a white racist mind. When you’re in power you become obsessed with heralding your standard for the entire world to see. It’s important that you make people aware that your race has cornered the market on beauty and that all other women will be measured by it. Hence the Miss America Pageant: “In 1935, Talent was added to the competition. At the time, non-white women were barred from competing, a restriction that was codified in the pageant's "Rule number seven," which stated that "contestants must be of good health and of the white race." No African American women participated until 1970, although African Americans did appear in musical numbers as far back as 1923, when they were cast as slaves.”

    Look at the negative flack the latest non-white winner has garnered for her looks. Why her very features were viewed as an insult to white Americans. Why don’t we have a White Miss America pageant?” some whites asked; so unforgivably ignorant of the franchise’s history. The photo-shopped images- the advertisements- the endless stream of thin, blond- blue-eyed leading white women in movies- publications and entertainment media, is a blatant maneuver to assure this axiom is conformed to come hell or high water. Then whites have the audacity to claim, that what people of color see all around them is not racist- it’s just the norm- and we're simply reading too much into this.

  18. Did anyone see the finale of America's Next Top Model? The winner was super dark skinned and I was sooo happy she won. She was clearly the best one there.

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  20. Beautiful is beautiful, whether you have a skinny waist, flat butt, pointy nose, kinky hair, big butt, or beautiful chocolate skin. We need to learn how to keep it real.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  21. Speaking of double standards :

    A handful of these models, have "big eyes, big lips, and big noses".

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  23. kevinrp, you raise an interesting point. I certainly agree that there are White people who aren't colorist. I guess I'm talking about White beauty standards on a more general, not inter-personal, level. I've never seen evidence that White people have a broader definition of Black beauty than Black people do (which is the argument these people make).

    I should have clarified that I also meant things aside from skin color (like facial features and hair, for instance). It's telling that the Black women who end up "crossing over" and being celebrated in mainstream White media are often light-skinned and/or biracial.

    And I'm not sure you have to have a close relationship to discuss who you find attractive. In my experience, celebrity crushes and the like can come up in some superficial conversations (especially on the internet). Not all of these people are saying, "Her nose is so wide" or "Her skin is so dark." But they're not celebrating Lauryn Hill or Sanaa Lathan either.

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  25. Just remember this:

    Being a PoC is not for the faint-of-heart, the insecure, or the weak-minded. Anyone willing to trade places with us for a week will bail out after 24 hours.

    Being a PoC means putting up with crap 24x7x365 - and that requires possessing a lot more strength than most people realize.

    I've experienced all kinds of crap, have been called every name in the book - but guess what, I'm still standing, and I ain't goin' nowhere!

    So deal with that, Status Quo and Conventional Wisdom!!!!

    Peace be with you, Renee! And don't give up the fight!

    A wise man once told me: "I will not let anyone, anything, or any situation dictate how I should feel..."

  26. Thank you so much Renee for your post. It couldn't have come at a better time! Yesterday, I was flipping through a Nieman Marcus catalouge and was stunned in AWE at how many beautiful black women and other WOC there are in this world!!

    I was most shocked at how tastfully the more exotic themes were executed by varying different races for different beautiful settings from all over the world while managing not to be stereotypical.

    By far, it is the most diverse display of fashion and culture that I've seen compared to the average fashion magazine on the market.

    Who would have thought such an upscale retailer as Neimans who orginated in the early 20th century Dallas, Texas of all places would become so sophisticated concerning advertising other racial cultures!

    I think sometimes that some of these industries/designers feel as though these 'white girls dipped in chocolate' make their clothes look as bad as they were intentionally designed. Meaning that there some designers who make absolute overpriced garbage and it looks just that on certain figures/skintones ect..whereas the average white model is always seen to be neutral somehow.

    Her figure, eyes, features, ect. niether takes away or adds to the effect of the clothes because she is all we have ever seen in everything else, therefore meaning she has in effect become the barometer of what good fashion, good taste or a certain cut of clothes should look like on the buyer and if it doesn't. Something is wrong.

    However, this can be daunting. Because the white female is what we see 'round the clock, it almost as if the non-pigmented model is a blank for some reason and when we get sucked in to try on something that looks nice we end up saying:

    'oh, this blouse doesn't fit quite right on me..why?? Whats wrong with it?'

    forgetting it was made to look nice on HER.

  27. great post. i've seen the video on 3 or 3 other blogs, but they don't go in depth and analyze it the way it was done here. judos.

    i wanted to add that not only is this racism in the fashion industry an attempt (or a continuation) to contantly reinforce white supremacy and keep black and women of color in particular outside the realm of "beauty", but it is also indicative of the way the black woman is seen in the media.

    from maybe 7 or 8th grade until my high school graduation, i wanted to be a fashion designer. so, the majority of the money from my fast food job went to fashion magazines and books. in retrospect, i think it contributed a lot to my internal racism i had against myself. its very telling how the disheveled, grungy looking white female is basically high fashion, while no woman of color could be considered fashionable while looking like she just snorted a line of coke, woke up in bed next to a stranger all while battling mono.

    even more so, i think fashion designers don't go for black women because black women, in the media, have yet to be put outside the stereotypical images. if a designer wants someone that looks innocent, vulnerable, and docile, the last woman they are going to look for is the woman (black) that is constantly seen in movies and television as the neck-twitching, finger-snapping "SISTAH" that tells it like it is with a voice and persona as loud as an earthquake.

    and while i do think these designers are inexcusably wrong, i don't think they should be blamed anymore than our society as a whole should be. fashion is an art form, but it is also a business. in order for one's label to stay afloat, one needs to conform to the mainstream. we should start criticizing television show, radio broadcasts, and film more sharply as we are the fashion industry in this post.

  28. @HoneyBrown

    Pretty much. Code language= white people it's "full luscious lips" and for us black folks it's "big ugly lips."

  29. this subject is one that i've found to be rather revealing, in conversations i've had about it with people (mainly white men).

    there is a contingent of people who would flat-out say that they don't find women of color--in this case black women--attractive, who would wear their racism proudly.

    there are a lot of others who, if asked, would deny that their criteria for attractiveness was racially motivated, but then wouldn't even stop to think about the patterns of what they considered attractive, who they dated, or how they framed their understanding of femininity (especially the femininity of women of color).

    there are others (and i suspect a majority) who would say that, for them, it depended on the woman--that it didn't matter what race the woman was (and they would be able to point to specific examples). but then they wouldn't have any real awareness of something like what renee wrote, where the larger cultural definition of beauty and appeal was dominated by a white-centric gaze.

    in general, the topic of women, and attraction to them, comes up in certain male circles rather frequently. this conversation is one in which i've seen a lot of guys who would identify with the two latter categories become aware of the contradiction in their claims. there's a moment in which they realize, possibly for the first time, that they aren't as open or fair as they thought they were. and i think that has been constructive, sometimes.

    that's a little rambling. i guess mainly what i'm saying is that i was struck, when reading this, how many times i've had rather deep and insightful conversations about racism, in the context of this particular issue--definitions of attractiveness, and beauty, when it comes to women of color.

    maybe this is just anecdotal. regardless, i guess i can attest to this particular issue being rather eye-opening for some of my friends, in conversations i've had over the past few years.

  30. @leedevious

    I saw Krista win America's Next Top Model, too, and was disturbed to see today that Seventeen magazine seems to have significantly lightened her skin on her Seventeen magazine cover. It's particularly painful given her comment about wanting to be a role model to girls with complexions like hers.

    Photo and discussion here:

  31. Co-sign on honeybrown1976.

    This was an excellent piece and still irritates me to this day to see that crap being played out. The fashion industry is garbage as far as I'm concerned; it isn't representative of me or anyone I know.

    Great post, Renee! Thanks for putting the ish out there!

  32. Agree with M. Gibson. It's funny that the fashion world pushes this white aesthetic as synonymous with beauty...

    ...yet here in the real world you have white women tanning to make their skin darker, getting botox to make their lips and butts fuller, and getting breast implants to get bigger there as well.

  33. Stupid modeling agencies, haven't they heard that "black is slimming?" Many of the body problems supermodels have - skin hanging off bones in the legs etc - are less visible on dark skin.

    The idiotic phenomenon of "white girls dipped in chocolate" is everywhere, especially the whole "Rihanna vs. Beyonce" war in which white men always vote for Rihanna because Beyonce is "too sassy."

    I'm sick of it all. And I've always found the most striking models are the ones who look like real people, not the doped-up mouth-half-open-question-mark-faced ones with tiny features.

  34. Great so only white features are "elegant" and black women that are bore with such features should be thankful because they are part of the "lucky" few...

    So if this is the case and only "white girls dipped in chocolate" are the sought after black models then why cant black women like Renee get as much work as white counterparts. Oh I know why! Its not about the features, its about the skin tone.

    They dont say they "dont want a black model" they just reject most of them unless they look white is some capacity.

    Seriously speaking, if my black self is too ugly to have a co-ethnic model your clothes, Im also too ugly to pay top dollar for them.

  35. @Jim, I know a guy who not only wouldn't describe himself as racist, but who genuinely strives (imperfectly, but then, aren't we all imperfect?) to be nonracist...but who says he is not attracted to black women. I'm puzzled--both on the level that so many women of all colors are beautiful and I don't understand how anyone could be unable to see that, and on the other level where I can't see a way for this stance to be unracist, despite knowing the guy in question to be generally not a racist. And, of course, far be it from any of us to say who someone else should be sexually attracted to, so then I feel like a jerk for judging him in a way I don't want to be judged; we are all "looks-ist" when it comes to that, because you can't control being attracted to some people and not others.

    Um, like a lot of my comments, this seems not to have much point, other than that I find this issue a vexing one.

  36. RE: the not attracted to Black women meme

    the reason this is a racist statement is because it assumes that all Black women look alike

    Black is an extremely broad category with a great diversity of physical features.

  37. Ok, you use a young women who has been described as having "white features" and proclaim that there is racism in the fashion industry. Apparently, it is not because she is black. If you used a model who looked like Alek Wek, for this post, I would believe it.

    Renee's problem is not because she is black. It is because of her presentation. There is nothing that screams Model about this girl. She is not polished.

    A model commands attention, not only because of her features but because of her "eye command." When she walks, EVERYONE, turns to look. This doesn't happen with Renee.

    Yes, there is racism in the fashion industry. However, there are girls walking around bedstuy who make Renee look like a cabbage patch. There is too much beauty in New York.

  38. Mirror,

    I knew progressive White men who'd date any woman BUT African-American women. I asked them what trait did ALL AA women have to the exclusion of not only all other women but to the exclusion of all other non-American BLACK women that made us such a turn off? I asked them that question in 1997.

    I'm still waiting on an answer.

    I'd venture it was our ability to see through their bs better being as African-American women may have been around American WM moreso than non-American Black women.

    Oh, and your friend IS a racist-ass-racist.

  39. Ladydai,

    I hear you, however, most women that model wouldn't be described as 'polished'. A high society lady one would expect some degree of polish,heck any classy lady, but for people that are basically clothes horses, not so!
    The point is that Renee as a black women has to be PERFECT, when thousands of white models as per video are booked, imperfections and all. Therein lies the problem. That extra mile long hurdle erected for the likes of Renee and countless black models when white models aren't held to the same standards.
    A white model need be rail thin, little quirky nuances that brand then 'hot' or supermodel come later. For black women being thin isn't enough. As you've pointed out she's not 'polished', Id wager most white models are far from that too. At what point, bar being rail thin, 'polished' and black does she deserve to be given a second look??
    What the hell does it take for a black woman to model period? At what point does she BREAK EVEN???

  40. A few people have brought up white women with "black" features as being still thought of as beautiful and able to have careers... Angelina Jolie, for example. I don't think this quite applies to the modeling parallel. Jolie is vilified for being overtly sexy and a tad threatening. Jennifer A, while far less "beautiful" would probably have a better time breaking into the modeling if neither had their acting careers. Oprah's another case of celebrity trumping race. Her magazine sells because it's a good product and she has spent decades building a trusting relationship with the public. The public does not trust a black person's face when the face is all they have... modeling is not about who the model is as an individual. It's about a story they are trying to tell through images. That imagery relies on the collective baggage of the viewer, so the most common baggage, ie bias, wins. At least what the decision makers believe is the most common biases.
    Models are not the most beautiful people in the world, but their done up images arguably are.
    Many of the women who turn heads in nyc probably couldn't make it in TOP MODELING.
    Of course, there is work in the lower levels for ethnic models. The racially ambiguous seem to be popular right now. What is she? You can't say? perfect! Pander to everyone.
    I've always been amused by the compliment "you could be a model." I'm like, um... I'm five feet tall, I am not modeling anything anytime soon. Plus, I don't want to look like a model. I want to look like someone who could lift my own suitcase into overhead storage in an airplane.
    Many models are quite icky and though renee is gorgeous in photos, she looks like she could use some sleep.

  41. why forget the fake hair?

  42. This is very interesting actually. I am saying this because well the media has been targetting black americans in general. Its odd to sit here and single us out on poverty, crime rates, etc etc. When you look at the real statistics. You soon realize there are more black college students than there are black people who are incarcerated at the moment. That of course there aren't that many wealthy blacks as in percentage there aren't that many wealthy whites. But lets ignore that and put these "negroes" in their place. THis is the message I am getting, and to be honest I wasn't in the US when Obama got elected, and when he was inagurated. When I came back to what I called "home" I found it to be very very racist. With both white & black people giving me the message that I will be hated no matter where I go in this world. The fact that it is almost competely false is what baffles me. Being brainwashed willingly is a grand ole American tradition. Because no one likes to admit they're wrong. Anyway I'm tired of this backlash. People ask me why I am heading back overseas, and well shit, you got my bloody answer. Too much bullshit in the US over shit that well isn't even an issue in some countries, but well the US isn't perfect. I hate how many of my people in the professional world have to cater to white supremacist in order to get anywhere. That right there is outright, and overt oppression.

  43. Man so many just wonderful view points and intelligent writers. i read every single comment on this thread, followed the links and educated myself as a young african woman trying to break into modeling myself. thank you to all. :)

  44. IT's NOT THE WHITEMAN'S JOB TO CHANGE.HE'S RULING MOST OF THE WORLD WITH AN IRON SWORD BECAUSE OF HIS VICIOUSNESS.It's time for black people to change.If they won't let you in create your own.It's not their postion to accept us.Why are we crying for their crumbs?.Create your own industry.Buy from each other.Stop looking up to them as the ideal.Value who we are as blk people.Imitation is the biggest form of flattery and white people have been mimicking our looks and swagger from day one.It upsets me when our people go crazy for the Kim Kardashian's when these people have took your look and made millions,became sex symbols all the while the natural blk women is seen as unattractive with these same features.Blk people know when you are being dooped.Until we stand up for ourselves and stop begging for others to give us a piece of their pie,we will never be respected.I believe in making your own pie.Stop looking for white America or any other race to validate you.We make the world go round,and until we understand that we are the SH#T and we don't have to beg for acceptance, people will begin to see our dignity and strength and realize they have no controll over us anymore.FREE YOUR MIND AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW.

  45. The fashion industry needs to include diversity if it wishes to remain up to date. Maintaining the status quo will catch up to them and hurt them in the long run.

  46. This is such a great topic, if black women are only deemed beautiful with so"white features", then why is the so called "Latina" percentage in the fashion world so late. So called "Latinas" possess the same facial features as white women, i personally think that it is another inferiority complex of most whites. They have to always be seen as the most beautiful, the smartest, the most riches etc. You always hear about Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but how many people know of Mark Dean? He holds three of the nine original IBM patents upon which the IBM PC personal computers were based. He led the team that developed the ISA bus, and he led the design team responsible for creating the first one-gigahertz computer processor chip.I think that it is another way to try and make us feel inferior to others, or that we can only be athletes and musicians(rappers etc). p.s. sorry for my english, it is my second language.

  47. To all of you who are either unaware, uninformed or in abject denial about prejudice against Black Models: simply Google search Black Models. You will get more results for white models with black in some keyword than you will for Black models. Worst, if you include pretty, sexy or glamor you will get a load of raunchy porn crap. If this isn't evidence of racism, then what is?

  48. And people wonder where black rage comes from. We are told anyone can reach the American Dream, but how? We often aren't even considered American really. When you are constantly told and shown that you aren't beautiful or don't look white enough. The constant rejection and pain is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

  49. Wow. I totally teared up at your post.

    I have no words to tell you how much I feel your pain, each and every day.

    If I think about what I endure, be it willful ignorance, ignorance or plain old hate, I'd resort to staying in bed forever.

    But that is the plan isn't it, make us believe we are inferior, until we truly become inferior.

  50. I really like your post it is such an eye opener you are truly an inspiration to me! :D

  51. I have modeled for several years but, It is exceedingly hard to get mainstream assignments even the times when I am the obviously the better choice.

    Very often I find a white female very under average in looks and skinny to the point of disgustingly unhealthy is chosen first.
    there are times that there is a model that gets the assignment over me because she is simply more fitting for what they are looking for and then there are times that it is simply because she is white.

    SERIOUSLY - 5'10 Size 2 !?? That is gross and why would you push females to do that to themselves, It is in-humane, worst of all you toot these girls horns just to keep from acknowledging the beauty of other races and now she walks around like she is the epitome of beauty when in actuality she is a walking crypt keeper. It is ridiculous and petty.
    It is blatant racism, for every inch we gain in the industry they get more dramatic in turning white models into the very opposite of us and slamming every social avenue that "This is the very image of fashion"!

    The very features they say are unsellable in ethnic girls they strive to achieve.....Lol

    Beauty is Beauty despite the color, Whether you like it or not.

    The industry will pick an unattractive and underweight white model over a slender but healthy and very attractive ethnic model.
    Reality - Racism and Haterism fully exist!
    You can stick as many bag of bones models on the runway and covers of mags as you want and it still doesn't change reality.

  52. Excellent blog with fantastic responses. I’m riled up enough to post about my experience.
    I live in LA & I'm 100% Igbo. I’ve received comments about my "button nose.” A white man actually told me I have a "white girl's face,” but I CORRECTED him with "NO, I have a Nigerian woman's face, ok? This is pure Africana right here."

    Ugh! I'm so sick of the entertainment/fashion industry’s BULLSH*T.

    "Elegant features?" Seriously?! Soo "Big African features" go unappreciated UNLESS they're faked by white women.

    This is why this industry makes my skin crawl...they don't want OUR big lips unless Jolie's got them, they don't want OUR big booties unless J.Lo's rocking it (because her Puerto Rican-ness isn’t as threatening as our African-ness, right?) or better yet, let's get fixated on Armenian Kim's ass instead.

    They'll say we're too dark while getting their tans and dusting their bronzer; Black women are considered tacky & ghetto with "weaves" but White women can have "extensions,” fake lips, tits, faces and STILL be considered beautiful, but our natural beauty doesn't get any love.

    Lastly, I'm really sick of effeminate gay men trying to tell women how to BE women with regards to CURVES. Sorry, but most straight men do NOT find most of the girls on the runway with their heroin chic look remotely attractive--it goes against biology.

    Fashion is about artistry and creativity, NOT gender or sexual orientation. LOVE my gay men, BUT to assume ALL my gay men are more fashion conscious than the next person is as prejudiced as assuming ALL African American people can play basketball.

    So, if many fashion designers are gay men, can you BLAME THEM for showcasing women with manly angles?

    No, so sadly I find as a Black woman, I’m up against the Eurocentric standards of beauty, AND Eurocentric homosexual standards of beauty, too. Ya know, the idea an emaciated, angular (masculine) body is more "beautiful" than the voluptuous (feminine) body?

    Well, luckily I learned early in life I'd rather be a 1st place ME than a 2nd place someone else...

    I got through this insanity by ignoring the media's agenda & looking at WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING with the actions of society.
    When I look around, I see so many people trying their damndest to BE AFRICAN, so it's hard to fall for their "you're lesser than" attitude.

    If I'm "LESSER THAN" why are you trying to be me, boo?

  53. (cont.)

    Look, WE as people of African descent MUST LOVE OURSELVES enough to DEFINE & SUPPORT ourselves because looking for validation from Whites is A WASTE OF TIME.

    Race arguments in 2011 are pointless, because from a genetic standpoint, we're all AFRICAN. I dunno about you, but I'm not interested in trying to catch up the slow…I'd rather let natural selection take its course with them. The sooner people accept this genetic fact & stop hating all that is African, the better.
    Pointless because, people of African descent need to understand AND take back our monetary power anyway--we may have PLENTY of obstacles in being equal financially with Whites, BUT we DO have spending power.

    If a designer, company etc. doesn't cater to our African heritage in a positive way, make a REAL impact & DON’T BUY FROM THEM…then SPREAD THE WORD.

    It sends a CLEAR message of who’s in control. Sometimes the most potent universal protest comes in the form of cold, hard's the only thing soulless corporations care about.
    We DON'T have to support ANYONE who doesn't respect us. We need to take a lesson from other cultures & learn to spend money on OURSELVES to improve our overall community.


    No amount of Euro-obsessed magazine covers, Music videos or runway shows can ever CHANGE THAT.
    drop me a line at

    I've written some poetry on the subject of racism, especially with regards to Black beauty. You can find them here:


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