Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Color of Beauty Documentary: Sometimes You Really Don’t Get What You Pay For

When you get a chance to, watch “The Colour of Beauty” video that features Renee Thompson, a stunning Black model who exemplifies a “steel like” tenacity to succeed that all people, and particularly Black people, should model.  Her resilience and desire to succeed in the face of constant rejection from the “few Blacks allowed” modeling industry is even more admirable because her profession is based on her looks, her Blackness, yet she has made a tough living as a professional model for years.

Beverly Johnson, the first Black model to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine, shared her opinion about the modeling industry’s lack of diversity during a CNN interview:   “It’s disgusting, unforgivable, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.  It’s a sad old story.”  Beverly also mentioned she was having a flashback because the industry is the same as it was in the 1970s when she was at the top of her career.  And that everyone in the modeling industry needed to be “enlisted” to make changes.

I believe the message to Black women is that they must not only be more conscious of their fashion purchases, but they have a responsibility to at least go do some level of research about the designers, magazines, and advertisers that are directly and indirectly related to their fashion purchases, be they clothing, handbags, magazines, and so on.  If you don’t see Black or minority faces in the publications you read, or you come across articles about racist company practices (for example, Google the company’s name with the word “racism”), you need to write a couple of letters or send emails — and make some phone calls and complain.  Also tell your friends to do the same.

Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Tyson Beckford and others have spoken out and even met in regards to the ongoing “Blackout” in the modeling industry.

I was once looking through old pictures with a beautiful brown-skinned ex-girlfriend, who happened to be from NY.  I asked her why she never tried to become a model?  She said she had tried, but the industry gatekeepers  told her that her hips were too big.   She had curves but not like the curves you see on a lot of sistahs.

It’s shameful but racism consumes every area of Black life, not because we want it to, but because it does.  Some Black people seem to do their best to ignore racism, and will even criticize other Blacks who complain; however, pretending racism doesn’t exist in everyday life is insane.  You can complain and still work hard to change things or succeed.  When you repeatedly ignore racism, you begin to question yourself or internalize negativity as if something’s wrong with you.  This is bad for your mental and physical health.

The modeling industry uses “quotas of exclusion,” and they all participate in  finger-pointing in regards to who’s at fault for the lack of diversity, whether it’s the modeling agencies, casting agents, the designers, the advertisers, or whomever.  They’re all lame, and things will not change until you call it what it is — Racism — and do something about it.  The world’s population is over 80 percent people of color, and in the United States, minorities will be the majority by 2042.  Minority children are already two-fifths of all our country’s children under 18, but by 2023, minority children will be the majority of all children under 18.  So the modeling industry, like all American institutions that don’t welcome minorities, needs to understand that supporting diversity is good business.

Black women spend over $30billion a year on apparel, but when considering New York’s huge Fashion Week, Blacks were only 8 percent of the models in 2010 (an additional 8 percent were Hispanic and Asian); in 2008, women of color were only 13 percent of the models (6 percent Black; 6 percent Asian; 1 percent Hispanic); and in 2007, Fashion Week was virtually 100 percent White.  This is appalling.  It’s as if the modeling industry is stuck in the 1800s.

I would just say to Black women, it’s just like selecting the men you allow into your lives:  you make the choices so you have to accept the responsibility regarding how the relationship goes.  And if you “lay down,” the fashion industry will continue to walk all over you.

Mothers and Grandmothers and Aunts and Sisters

Mothers and grandmothers and aunts and sisters  smile at you like sunshine that binds your bones with your soul.  You feel their love and you know you can do no wrong; you can own the world with the power of love from these great women.  They may leave you, but their spirits, the core of your being, is forever woven into your DNA.

I can see my grandmother and great grandmother’s smiles in my mother’s smile.  My mother can look at me and my tired soul becomes peaceful and renewed.  Black mothers, grandmothers, and aunts – matriarchs, “holdin’ it down,” in our community, breathe courage, morals and values into our spirits so our brothers, sisters, our children live another 100 years.

The yellow cakes my paternal grandmother made still hold a sweetness I can taste to this day.  And the special pickled eggs my maternal grandmother made still swim through my blood and nourish my spirit.   Yet all of their love is reflected in every tender morsel my mother has ever fried, baked, or boiled.  Her food, everything she makes, is the best tasting thing she has ever made to me.

Then there are the aunts who hold a sparkle in their eyes that reflects the amazement we all have that love, the love of family, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers  – is eternal, and sustains you with a new burst of soulfulness with every cookout, phone call, or family reunion.

Sisters are the teammates you can trust to have your back, the ones you want to be in the foxhole with when the enemy is closing in and you know you have a chance to win the fight.  Sisters are an extension of you, they have been where you’ve been, their pain is your pain because you’re both woven from the same steel fabric that will hold the family together on into the future.

The love of family is what fertilizes our emotional and spiritual growth.

But even those that may not have been as fortunate to have been surrounded with family love should be able to feel it through whomever was there for them.  Whoever propped you up and helped you from a toddler to a child to a teenager to a young adult is your family.

And although none of our families have always said or done all the right thing, all the time, what we do receive from them, their love, played a role in our journey.  And oftentimes we simply don’t realize how blessed we all have been.