Glamour & "Political" Hair: What Have We Learned?

Illustration for article titled Glamour & "Political" Hair: What Have We Learned?

Over on Racialicious, Latoya Peterson writes about the March issue of Glamour, which contains a transcript from the panel that editor-in-chief Cindi Leive put together after the slide show debacle six months ago in which an editor called an Afro "a no-no" and declared dreadlocks "political." The editor was fired, and the subsequent racial peace summit happened in November. The panel featured Farai Chideya (NPR, News & Notes), Vanessa Bush (Essence), Jami Floyd (TV anchor), Daisy Hernandez (Colorlines), Lisa Price (Carol's Daughter Hair Products), Venus Opal Reese (PH.D, University of Texas), Mally Roncal (make up artist/entrepreneur), and Barbara Trepagnier (sociology professor). And yet, Peterson writes, as she read the transcript, she asked herself, "How did something so right go so wrong?"

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She continues:

The prevailing dominance of the white beauty ideal was not mentioned. Most of the discussion focused around corporate ideals of what is acceptable and what is not... We can discuss differences in hair texture. We can discuss differences in body type. We can discuss differences in facial features. But this does not change the reality that 'white' is considered the golden standard and that everything else is deemed unacceptable. Straightened hair, fairer skin, keener features are all considered beautiful while anything else is automatically considered unattractive. If you are a woman of color, you suddenly find yourself under enormous pressure to compensate for that you 'lack.'

Well said! In fact, we were trying to make that point very recently. Peterson concludes: "Rarely does a mainstream magazine decide to tackle race directly and so Glamour should be commended for putting the panel and article together. However, the piece feels like a wonderful beginning, a springboard to a multi-part series, the small start that leads us into a more enlightened conversation. It deserves more follow up, discussions, check-ins, maybe even a small monthly feature."

Glamour Magazine on Women, Race, and Beauty [Racialicious]
Your Race, Your Looks [Glamour]

Earlier: 'Glamour' Editor To Lady Lawyers: Being Black Is Kinda A Corporate "Don't"
Glamour "Racist" Freed From Slavery To Fashion
Glamour "Racist" Ashley Baker Calls Us, Sets Nappy Hair Story Straight
Glamour Attempts To Negotiate Peace Between Blacks, Bitchy Redheads
How Does A Black Woman Feel About The Glamour Controversy? I Asked Myself!

DISCUSSION

This subject grieves me every time it comes up. I'm in my 40s and grew up in Canada. And it was tough being the only black girl, sometimes for miles around. I will never forget seeing my first Essence magazine when I was 16. You pray things will get better, will be easier for the young black girls coming up. I have dreads and I guess it is 'political'. Whenever a black woman chooses to leave her hair in its natural state, she's saying something. But you know what? I have dreadlocks because they look really good. I love my hair, it's beautiful. And on the days (and there are a lot of them) when I'm not happy with anything I see in the mirror, I'm happy about my hair. So I long for the day when the only statement my hair makes is 'damn, I look good'.