The editors of Blackhair Magazine are under fire after their December 2016/January 2017 issue hit newsstands.
The magazine, which is an international bi-monthly publication targeted to "the style conscious black woman," per its Facebook page, approved a white model with teased hair to grace the cover of the latest issue. London-based model Emily Bador took to Instagram yesterday to post a public apology to her fans and the readers of Blackhair. Her caption paired with the cover that she shot stated:
I would deeply and sincerely like to apologise to every one for this, and black women especially.
I would like to clarify, I believe this shoot is from when I was around 15 and didn't understand cultural appropriation or the impact it has on POC. I was uneducated, which obviously is no excuse, ignorant and immature. Growing up in a very very white city, I had no idea the struggles black women face and how often they were persecuted for their hair. I didn't understand how black women are constantly told their natural hair is inappropriate/unprofessional for the work place, or how young girls are told they can't go to school with natural hair. I didn't understand that shoots like this support the very Eurocentric beauty standard that the mainstream media focus on which reinforce the idea that black features are only ok on white women.
I didn't understand that as a white passing woman I'd be praised for this hair, but if I was a black woman I'd be persecuted. I didn't understand cultural appropriation. I do regret doing this. I hold up my hands, I'm so so so sorry and I'm very sorry this cover was taken away from a black woman. This image is (I think, although I'm not 100% sure) about 3/4 years old, it was never intended to be on the cover of this magazine. If I had known it was going to be published, I would never have condoned it. I'm upset and angry I was never asked by the photographer/hair salon/anyone if this image could be used for the cover Black Hair.
I'm so glad I've educated myself and surrounded my self with people to teach me what is right and wrong. I constantly am learning and becoming more and more informed. It's important to come forward and be honest with ourselves about our past mistakes, otherwise we will never learn. Again, I'm truly, deeply sorry to anyone I've offended and I hope if nothing else this post can educated others so they don't make similar mistakes. (also please let me know if I've said anything wrong or offensive in this post!
Following Bador's IG post, Blackhair Magazine posted an apology to readers on Facebook, stating:
This morning it was brought to our attention that the model gracing our December/January issue is not of black or mixed-race heritage. We were obviously not aware of this prior to selecting the image. We often ask PR companies/salons to submit images for the magazine, specifically stating that models must be Black or mixed race. We can only take their word for it, and of course, try to use our own judgment.
At Blackhair we continuously strive to celebrate black women in all our beautiful variation of skin hues and hair textures. We are keenly aware of how black women are underrepresented in the mainstream media and the last thing we want to do is add to our erasure. In this ever-changing world, race will surely become even more fluid and no doubt conversations around Black identity will continue to change, and we definitely welcome the dialogue.
Thank you to Emily Bador for bringing this to our attention, we really appreciate your honesty. And we also thank our dear readers for your continued support, we don’t take any of it for granted and therefore welcome any emails, messages, tweets you have on this subject and others.
Enjoy your Monday
The ugly truth is that cultural appropriation is still very much an issue within our community.
However, some commenters have argued that while it could have been easily avoided with more crosschecking, this was only an innocent mistake and nothing to hang over the heads of the model and editor. I celebrate my colors with an immense amount of pride each day of my breathing life, despite what the media or society has told me. I also have tailored my mindset to see the beauty in a person that goes much deeper than their surface or any of their superficial possessions.
That being said, as an editor and published author, I also feel an incredible responsibility to encourage my community to discover their own unmatched beauty. We are placed in a position that can sway the industry's portrayal of 'beauty' in one or another; for that, people like Keysha and Emily have got to do better next time they are placed in such a position to either pose for, or publish, on a racially sensitive subject.Together, we must properly educate and inspire readers, viewers, and fans by upholding our own requirement for obtaining that same level of awareness to set as a positive example.
What is your take?
Read my most recent article, Why Every Survivor Needs to Hear Selena Gomez's Touching AMAs Speech NOW.
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